Locals respond to historic decision

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2003

Local attorneys expressed mixed feelings after hearing about former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s removal from office.

Moore was removed from his position on Thursday by a judicial ethics panel for disobeying a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state courthouse.

Fourth Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Mickey Avery quoted President Theodore Roosevelt, who stated, &uot;No man is above the law and no man below the law. Nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.&uot;

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Avery said he was a strong advocate for placing the Ten Commandments in public locations. However, he added that when a judge gives an order, it must be obeyed, &uot;no matter if we like it or not.&uot;

Ultimately, Avery noted, the bedrock of the American judicial system comes down to obeying a judge’s orders.

Local attorney Alston Keith said he agreed with the judicial ethics panel’s decision.

Keith said Moore could conceivably run for the office of chief justice again, unless he was disbarred. Keith, though, said he didn’t believe Moore should be disbarred.

According to Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the groups that sued Moore over the monument, the Alabama State Bar Association would receive a complaint asking that Moore be disbarred.

Mitzi Johnson-Theodoro, Fourth Judicial Circuit assistant district attorney, said American law was based on religious law. &uot;Religion is the basis of our laws,&uot; Johnson-Theodoro said. &uot;Do right, not wrong.&uot;

Johnson-Theodoro said laws must be obeyed, but added that inconsistencies existed in the law. One judicial circuit may rule a religious monument is acceptable in a public location while another circuit may rule against it. &uot;There’s no consistency it seems like,&uot; she said.

Concerning the monument’s location, Johnson-Theodoro said she didn’t think it was offensive. &uot;Not every trivial matter reeks of litigation,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s not like it was something sitting inside the courtroom.&uot;