AMENDMENT 328 RATIFIED

Amendment of Article VI.

Amendment of Article VI.

Article VI of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, and amendments 317 and 323 thereof, are hereby repealed and in lieu thereof the following article shall be adopted:

ARTICLE VI.

THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT.

6.01 Judicial power.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by this Constitution, the judicial power of the state shall be vested exclusively in a unified judicial system which shall consist of a supreme court, a court of criminal appeals, a court of civil appeals, a trail court of general jurisdiction known as the circuit court, a trail court of limited jurisdiction known as the district court, a probate court and such municipal courts as may be provided by law.

(b) The legislature may create judicial officers with authority to issue warrants and may vest in administrative agencies established by law such judicial powers as may be reasonably necessary as an incident to the accomplishment of the purposes for which the agencies are created.

6.02. The supreme court.

(a) The supreme court shall be the highest court of the state and shall consist of one chief justice and such number of associate justices as may be prescribed by law.

(b) The supreme court shall have original jurisdiction (1) of cases and controversies as provided by this Constitution, (2) to issue such remedial writs or orders as may be necessary to give it general supervision and control of courts of inferior jurisdiction, and (3) to answer questions of state law certified by a court of the United States.

(c) The supreme court shall have such appellate jurisdiction as may be provided by law.

6.03. Courts of appeals.

(a) The court of criminal appeals shall consist of such number of judges as may be provided by law and shall exercise appellate jurisdiction under such terms and conditions as shall be provided by law and by rules of the supreme court.

(b) The court of civil appeals shall consist of such number of judges as may be provided by law and shall exercise appellate jurisdiction under such terms and conditions as shall be provided by law and by rules of the supreme court.

(c) The court of criminal appeals and the court of civil appeals shall have no original jurisdiction except the power to issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of appellate jurisdiction of the courts of appeals.

(d) The court of criminal appeals shall have and exercise original jurisdiction in the issuance and determination of writs of quo warranto and mandamus in relation to matters in which said court has appellate jurisdiction. Said court shall have authority to issue writs of injunction, habeas corpus and such other remedial and original writs as are necessary to give it a general superintendence and control of jurisdiction inferior to it and in matters over which it has exclusive appellate jurisdiction; to punish for contempts by the infliction of a fine as high as one hundred dollars, and imprisonment not exceeding ten days, one or both, and to exercise such other powers as may be given to said court by law.

6.04. Circuit court.

a) The state shall be divided into judicial circuits. For each circuit, there shall be one circuit court having such divisions and consisting of such number of judges as shall be provided by law.

(b) The circuit court shall exercise general jurisdiction in all cases except as may otherwise be provided by law. The circuit court may be authorized by law to review decisions of state administrative agencies and decisions of inferior courts. It shall have authority to issue such writs as may be necessary or appropriate to effectuate its powers, and shall have such other powers as may be provided by law.

6.05. District court.

The district court shall be a court of limited jurisdiction and shall exercise uniform original jurisdiction in such cases, and within such geographical boundaries, as shall be prescribed by law, provided that the district court shall hold court in each county seat and at such other places as prescribed by law. The district court shall have jurisdiction of all cases arising under ordinances of municipalities in which there is no municipal court and shall hold court in each incorporated municipality of a population of 1000 or more where there is no municipal court at places prescribed by law.

6.06. Probate court.

There shall be a probate court in each county which shall have jurisdiction as may be provided by law.

6.065 Municipal courts.

All municipal courts shall have uniform original jurisdiction limited to cases arising under municipal ordinances as prescribed by law. Judges of municipal courts shall be licensed to practice law in the state and have such other qualifications as the legislature may prescribe. A municipal judge may serve as a judge of more than one municipal court. Expenses of municipal courts and compensation of municipal judges shall be paid in a manner prescribed by law notwithstanding the provisions of section 6.09 of this article. Municipal judges shall be appointed and vacancies filled by the governing body of the municipality, in accordance with uniform terms, conditions and procedures as may be provided by law, notwithstanding the provisions of sections 6.13, 6.14 and 6.15 of this article. The prohibited activities of section 6.08(a) and (b) shall not be applicable to a judge of a municipal court.

The governing body of a municipality shall have the right to elect at any time to abolish the municipal court within its limits. If such election is exercised, the jurisdiction of the court abolished shall be transferred to the district court of the district in which the municipality is located. The governing body of a municipality, may, at its election, re-establish a municipal court after appropriate notice.

6.07 Qualifications of judges.

Judges of the supreme court, courts of appeals, circuit court and district court shall be licensed to practice law in this state and have such other qualifications as the legislature may prescribe. Judges of the probate court shall have such qualifications as may be provided by law.

6.08. Prohibited activities.

(a) No judge of any court of this state shall, during his continuance in office, engage in the practice of law or receive any remuneration for his judicial service except the salary and allowances authorized by law.

(b) No judge, except a judge of a probate court, shall seek or accept any nonjudicial elective office, or hold any other office of public trust, excepting service in the military forces of the state or federal governments.

(c) The supreme court shall adopt rules of conduct and canons of ethics, not inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, for the judges of all courts of this State.

6.09 Judicial compensation.

(a) A state judicial compensation commission is hereby created which shall recommend the salary and expense allowances to be paid from the state treasury for all the judges of this state except for judges of the probate court. The commission shall consist of five members; one shall be appointed by the governor, one by the president of the senate, one by the speaker of the house, and two by the governing body of the Alabama state bar.

(b) Members of the judicial compensation commission shall serve for terms of four years. Any vacancy on the commission shall be filled in the same manner in which such position was originally filled. The legislature shall appropriate sufficient funds for the expenses of the commission.

(c) No member of the commission shall hold any other public office, or office in any political party, and no member of the commission shall be eligible for appointment to a state judicial office so long as he is a member of the commission and for two years thereafter.

(d) The commission may submit a report to the legislature at any time within the first five calendar days of any session. The recommendations of the commission shall become law unless rejected by a joint resolution or altered by an act of the legislature at the session to which the report is submitted. The compensation of a judge shall not be diminished during his official term.

6.10 Administration.

The chief justice of the supreme court shall be the administrative head of the judicial system. He shall appoint an administrative director of courts and other needed personnel to assist him with his administrative tasks. The chief justice may assign appellate justices and judges to any appellate court for temporary service and trail judges, supernumerary justices and judges, and retired trail judges and retired appellate judges for temporary service in any court. Adequate and reasonable financing for the entire unified judicial system shall be provided. Adequate and reasonable appropriations shall be made by the legislature for the entire unified judicial system, exclusive of probate courts and municipal courts. The legislature shall receive recommendations for appropriations for the trial courts from the administrative director of courts and for the appellate courts from each such court.

6.11 Power to make rules.

The supreme court shall make and promulgate rules governing the administration of all courts and rules governing practice and procedure in all courts; provided, however, that such rules shall not abridge, enlarge or modify the substantive right of any party nor affect the jurisdiction of circuit and district courts or venue of actions therein; and provided, further, that the right of trail by jury as at common law and declared by section 11 of the Constitution of Alabama 1901 shall be preserved to the parties inviolate. These rules may be changed by a general act of statewide application.

6.12. Number of circuit and district judges.

(a) The supreme court shall establish criteria for determining the number and boundaries of judicial circuits and districts, and the number of judges needed in each circuit and district. If the supreme court finds that a need exists for increasing or decreasing the number of circuit or district judges, or for changing the boundaries of judicial circuits or districts, it shall, at the beginning of any session of the legislature, certify its findings and recommendations to the legislature.

(b) If a bill is introduced at any session of the legislature to increase or decrease the number of circuit or district judges, or to change the boundaries of any judicial circuit or district, the supreme court must, within three weeks, report to the legislature its recommendations on the proposed change. No change shall be made in the number of circuit or district judges, or the boundaries of any judicial circuit or district unless authorized by an act adopted after the recommendation of the supreme court on such proposal has been filed with the legislature.

(c) An act decreasing the number of circuit or district judges shall not affect the right of any judge to hold his office for his full term.

6.13. Election of judges.

All judges shall be elected by vote if the electors within the territorial jurisdiction of their respective courts.

6.14. Vacancies in judicial office.

The office of a judge shall be vacant if he dies, resigns, retires, or is removed. Vacancies in any judicial office shall be filled by appointment by the governor; however, vacancies occurring in any judicial office in Jefferson county shall be filled as now provided by amendments 83 and 110 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 and vacancies occurring in Shelby, Madison, Wilcox, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Washington, Henry, Etowah, Walker, Tallapoosa, Pickens, Greene, Tuscaloosa, St. Clair county shall be filled as provided in the Constitution of 1901 with amendments now or hereafter adopted, or as may be otherwise established by a properly advertised and enacted local law. A judge, other than a probate judge, appointed to fill a vacancy, shall serve an initial term lasting until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election held after he has completed one year in office. At such election such judicial office shall be filled for a full term of office beginning at the end of the appointed term.

6.15. Tenure of office.

(a) The term of office of each judge of a court of the judicial system of this state shall be six years.

(b) A law reducing the number of judges of the supreme court or of a court of appeals shall be without prejudice to the right of the judges affected to seek retention in office. The reduction shall become effective when a vacancy in the affected court occurs.

6.16. Retirement.

The legislature shall provide by law for the retirement of judges, including supernumerary judges, with such conditions, retirement benefits, and pensions for them and their dependents as it may prescribe. No person shall be elected or appointed to a judicial office after reaching the age of seventy years, provided that a judge over the age of seventy may be appointed to the office of supernumerary judge if he is not eligible to receive state judicial retirement benefits.

6.17. Judicial inquiry commission.

(a) A judicial inquiry commission is created consisting of seven members. The supreme court shall appoint one appellate justice or judge and the circuit judges' association shall appoint two judges of the circuit as members of the commission. The governor shall appoint two persons who are not lawyers and the governing body of the Alabama state bar shall appoint two members of the state bar to serve as members of the commission. The commission shall select its own chairman. The terms of the members of the commission shall be four years. A vacancy on the commission shall be filled for a full term in the manner the original appointment was made.

(b) The commission shall be convened permanently with authority to conduct investigations, receive or initiate complaints concerning any judge of a court of the judicial system of this state. The commission shall file a complaint with the court of the judiciary in the event that a majority of the members of the commission decide that a reasonable basis exists, (1) to charge a judge with violation of any canon of judicial ethics, misconduct in office, failure to perform his duties, (2) to charge that the judge is physically or mentally unable to perform his duties. All proceedings of the commission shall be confidential except the filing of a complaint with the court of the judiciary. The commission shall prosecute the complaints.

(c) The supreme court shall adopt rules governing the procedures of the commission.

(d) The commission shall have subpoena power and authority to appoint and direct its staff. Members of the commission who are not judges shall receive per diem compensation and necessary expenses; members who are judges shall receive necessary expenses only. The legislature shall appropriate funds for the operation of the commission.

6.18. Court of the judiciary.

(a) The court of the judiciary is created consisting of one judge of an appellate court, who shall be selected by the supreme court and shall serve as chief judge of the court of the judiciary, two judges of the circuit court, who shall be selected by the circuit judges' association, and two members of the state bar, who shall be selected by the governing body of the Alabama state bar. The court shall be convened to hear complaints filed by the judicial inquiry commission. The court shall have authority, after notice and public hearing (1) to remove from office, suspend without pay, or censure a judge, or apply such other sanction as may be prescribed by law, for violation of a canon of judicial ethics, misconduct in office, failure to perform his duties, or (2) to suspend with or without pay, or to retire a judge who is physically or mentally unable to perform his duties.

(b) A judge aggrieved by a decision of the court of the judiciary may appeal to the supreme court. The supreme court shall review the record of the proceedings on the law and the facts.

(c) The supreme court shall adopt rules governing the procedures of the court of the judiciary.

(d) The court of the judiciary shall have power to issue subpoenas. The legislature shall provide by law for the expenses of the court.

6.19. Disqualification.

A judge shall be disqualified from acting as a judge, without loss of salary, while there is pending (1) an indictment or an information charging him in the United States with a crime punishable as a felony under a state or federal law, or (2) a complaint against him filed by the judicial inquiry commission with the court of the judiciary.

6.20. District attorneys, clerks, court revenue.

(a) A district attorney for each judicial circuit shall be elected by the qualified electors of those counties in such circuit. Such district attorney shall be licensed to practice law in this state and shall, at the time of his election and during his continuance in office, reside in his circuit. His term of office shall be for six years and he shall receive such compensation as provided by law. Vacancies in the office of district attorney and in his staff shall be filled as provided by law.

(b) Clerks of the circuit courts shall be elected by the qualified electors in each county for a term of six years. If the office of register in chancery continues to be provided by law then the clerk of the circuit court may also fill such office in a manner prescribed by law. Vacancies in the office of clerk of the circuit court shall be filled by the judge or judges of the circuit court who have jurisdiction over the county in which the office of clerk of the circuit court is located.

(c) Persons elected to the position of constable to assist the courts of the state as provided by law shall be subject to the same restrictions, rights and limitations as are specified in section 280 of the Constitution of 1901, and no law shall prohibit the receipt of fees for the performance of official duties of said position while holding any other elected or appointed office.

(d) The revenue from fines, forfeitures and court costs produced in district courts from the exercise of jurisdiction under municipal ordinances shall be apportioned between the municipality and the state as shall be provided by law.

6.21. Continuation of courts, district attorneys, clerks.

(a) All courts not herein authorized which are in existence at the time this article becomes effective shall retain their powers for four years, unless sooner terminated by act of the legislature.

(b) All judges of the supreme court, court of criminal appeals, court of civil appeals and circuit courts shall retain their offices for the remainder of their respective terms.

(c) All justices of the supreme court in office when this article becomes effective shall be justices of the supreme court. All judges of the court of criminal appeals shall be judges of the court of criminal appeals. All judges of the court of civil appeals shall be judges of the court of civil appeals. All circuit judges in office when this article becomes effective shall be judges of the circuit courts. All city judges who are in office when this article becomes effective shall continue to be judges of their respective courts. All present city courts shall continue to function as provided by law for four years.

(d) All judges of any court in this state, excepting the supreme court, court of criminal appeals, court of civil appeals, circuit courts, probate courts, and city courts, whose salaries or compensation are paid by their respective counties, who are qualified under the provisions of this article, and who are holding office at the time of the approval of this constitutional amendment by the legislature and on the date of the establishment of the district court, shall be commissioned judges of the district court. Each such judge, accepting commission as a district judge, shall serve an initial term lasting until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after he has completed three years in office as a district judge. At such election said judicial office shall be filled for a full term of office beginning at the end of the term for which such judge was commissioned.

(e) In the event a city ceases to have a city or municipal court, all judges of any city court in this state in cities which have more than one such judge at the time of approval of this constitutional amendment by the legislature and on the date of the establishment of the district court, if otherwise qualified under the provisions of this article, shall be commissioned judges of the district court. Each such judge accepting commission as a district judge shall serve an initial term lasting until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after he has completed three years in office as a district judge. At such election said judicial office shall be filled for a full term of office beginning at the end of the term for which such judge was commissioned.

(f) All district attorneys of any circuit of this state, who are qualified under the provisions of this article, and who are holding office at the time of the approval of this constitutional amendment by the electors of the state, shall retain their offices for the remainder of their respective terms.

(g) All clerks of the circuit court of this state, who are holding office at the time of the approval of this constitutional amendment by the electors of the state, shall retain their offices for the remainder of their respective terms.

(h) Except to the extent inconsistent with the provisions of this article, all provisions of law and rules of court in force on the effective date of this article shall continue in effect until superseded in the manner authorized by the Constitution.