Ethics trial suspended for Birmingham judge who declared Alabama death penalty law unconstitutional

The trial of an Alabama judge accused of judicial ethics violations continued in Montgomery on Tuesday with the prosecution’s conclusion.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Tracie Todd is accused of abusing the judiciary by relinquishing the neutral role of a judge and becoming counsel for the defendants and his own decisions, particularly on matters of death sentence. The allegations came from a complaint filed in April by the Judicial Inquiry Commission.

The Alabama Judicial Court, a panel of nine judges, hears the case.

Todd’s attorneys say the allegations are false and Todd became a target because of his 2016 ruling that Alabama’s death penalty law was unconstitutional, a ruling higher courts have not upheld.

Todd faces six counts of violating the canons of judicial ethics. If the court finds Todd guilty, it could remove her from office, suspend her, or impose other penalties the court deems appropriate. Impeachment would require a unanimous vote from the panel of nine judges.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry based its case against Todd today after calling a total of six witnesses over two days. The trial began on Monday.

The trial is suspended for a few weeks. Todd’s defense team will begin presenting his case on December 1.

Emory Anthony, one of Todd’s attorneys, said no decision has been made on whether Todd will testify. Todd declined to comment as she left the state court building today.

Todd, a former prosecutor, was elected judge in 2012 and re-elected without opposition in 2018. She has been suspended with pay since the JIC complaint was filed in April.

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