CONSTITUTION OF 1875


ARTICLE VI.

JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT.

 

Section 1. The judicial power of the state shall be vested in the senate sitting as a court of impeachment, a supreme court, circuit courts, chancery courts, courts of probate, such inferior courts of law and equity, to consist of not more than five members, as the general assembly may from time to time establish, and such persons as may be by law invested with powers of a judicial nature.


Sec. 2. Except in cases otherwise directed in the Constitution, the supreme court shall have appellate jurisdiction only, which shall be coextensive with the state, under such restrictions and regulations, not repugnant to this Constitution, as may from time to time be prescribed by law; provided, that said court shall have power to issue writs of injunction, habeas corpus, quo warranto, and such other remedial and original writs as may be necessary to give it a superintendence and control of inferior jurisdictions.


Sec. 3. The supreme court shall be held at the seat of government, but if that shall become dangerous from any cause, it may adjourn to a different place.


Sec. 4. The state shall be divided by the general assembly into convenient circuits, not to exceed eight in number, unless increased by a vote of two-thirds of the members of each house of the general assembly, and no circuit shall contain less than three nor more than twelve counties; and for each circuit there shall be chosen a judge, who shall, for one year next preceding his election, and during his continuance in office, reside in the circuit for which he is elected.


Sec. 5. The circuit court shall have original jurisdiction in all matters, civil and criminal, within the state, not otherwise excepted in this Constitution; but in civil cases only when the matter or sum in controversy exceeds fifty dollars.


Sec. 6. A circuit court shall be held in each county in the state at least twice in every year, and the judges of the several circuits may hold courts for each other, when they deem it expedient, and shall do so when directed by law; provided, that the judges of the several circuit courts shall have power to issue writs of injunction returnable into courts of chancery.


Sec. 7. The general assembly shall have power to establish a court or courts of chancery, with original and appellate jurisdiction. The state shall be divided by the general assembly into convenient chancery divisions, not exceeding three in number, unless an increase shall be made by a vote of two-thirds of each house of the general assembly, taken by yeas and nays and entered upon the journals, and the divisions shall be divided into districts; and for each division there shall be a chancellor, who shall, at the time of his election or appointment, and during his continuance in office, reside in the division for which he shall have been elected or appointed.


Sec. 8. A chancery court shall be held in each district, at a place to be fixed by law, at least once in each year; and the chancellors may hold courts for each other, when they deem it necessary.


Sec. 9. The general assembly shall have power to establish in each county within the state a court of probate, with general jurisdiction for the granting of letters testamentary and of administration, and for orphans' business.


Sec. 10. The judges of the supreme court, circuit courts, and chancellors shall, at stated times, receive for their services a compensation which shall not be diminished during their official terms; but they shall receive no fees or perquisites, nor hold any office (except judicial offices) of profit or trust under this state or the United States, or any other power, during the term for which they have been elected.


Sec. 11. The supreme court shall consist of one chief justice and such number of associate justices as may be prescribed by law.


Sec. 12. The chief justice and associate justices of the supreme court, judges of the circuit courts, and chancellors shall be elected by the qualified electors of the state, circuits, counties, and chancery divisions, for which such courts may be established, at such times as may be prescribed by law.


Sec. 13. The judges of such inferior courts of law and equity as may be by law established, shall be elected or appointed in such mode as the general assembly may prescribe.


Sec. 14. The judges of the supreme court, circuit courts, and chancellors, and the judges of city courts, shall have been citizens of the United States and of this state for five years next preceding their election or appointment, and shall be not less than twenty-five years of age, and learned in law.


Sec. 15. The chief justice and associate justices of the supreme court, circuit judges, chancellors, and probate judges, shall hold office for the term of six years, and until their successors are elected or appointed and qualified; and the right of such judges and chancellors to hold their offices for the full term hereby prescribed shall not be affected by any change hereafter made by law in any circuit, division, or county, or in the mode or time of election.


Sec. 16. The judges of the supreme court shall, by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the peace throughout the state; the judges of the circuit courts, within their respective circuits, and the judges of the inferior courts, within their respective jurisdictions, shall, in like manner, be conservators of the peace.


Sec. 17. Vacancies in the office of any of the judges or chancellors of this state shall be filled by appointment by the governor; and such appointee shall hold his office for the unexpired term, and until his successor is elected or appointed and qualified.


Sec. 18. If in any case, civil or criminal, pending in any circuit, chancery, or city court in this state, the presiding judge or chancellor shall, for any legal cause, be incompetent to try, hear, or render judgment in such cause, the parties or their attorneys of record, if it be a civil case, or the solicitor or other prosecuting officer, and the defendant or defendants, if it be a criminal case, may agree upon some disinterested person practicing in the court and learned in the law, to act as special judge or chancellor, to sit as a court, and to hear, decide, and render judgment in the same manner and to the same effect as a judge of the circuit or city court, or chancellor sitting as a court might do in such case. If the case be a civil one, and the parties or their attorneys of record do not agree, or if the case be a criminal one, and the prosecuting officer and the defendant or defendants do not agree upon a special judge or chancellor, or if either party in a civil cause is not represented in court, the clerk of the circuit or city court, or register in chancery, of the court in which said cause is pending, shall appoint the special judge or chancellor, who shall preside, try, and render judgment as in this section provided.


Sec. 19. The general assembly shall have power to provide for the holding of circuit and chancery courts in this state, when the judges or chancellors thereof fail to attend regular terms.


Sec. 20. No judge of any court of record in this state shall practice law in any of the courts of this state or of the United States.


Sec. 21.
Registers in chancery shall be appointed by the chancellors of the divisions, and shall hold office during the term of the chancellor making such appointment; and such registers shall receive as compensation for their services only such fees and commissions as may be specifically prescribed by law.


Sec. 22. A clerk of the supreme court shall be appointed by the judges thereof, and shall hold office during the term of the judges making the appointment; and clerks of such inferior courts as may be established by law shall be appointed by the judges thereof, and shall hold office during the term of the judge making such appointment.


Sec. 23. Clerks of the circuit court shall be elected by the qualified electors in each county for the term of six years. Vacancies in such office shall be filled by the governor for the unexpired term.


Sec. 24. The clerk of the supreme court and registers in chancery may be removed from office by the judges of the supreme court and chancellors, respectively, for cause, to be entered at length upon the records of the court.


Sec. 25. A solicitor for each judicial circuit shall be elected by joint ballot of the general assembly, who shall be learned in the law, and who shall, at the time of his election, and during his continuance in office, reside in the circuit for which he is chosen, and whose term of office shall be for six years; provided, that the general assembly, at the first session thereof after the ratification of this Constitution, shall, by joint ballot, elect a solicitor for each judicial circuit of the state, whose term of office shall begin on Tuesday after the first Monday in November, eighteen hundred and seventy-six, and continue for four years; and provided, that the general assembly may, when necessary, provide for the election or appointment of county solicitors.


Sec. 26.
There shall be elected by the qualified electors of each precinct of the counties not exceeding two justices of the peace and one constable. Such justices shall have jurisdiction in all civil cases wherein the amount in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars, except in cases of libel, slander, assault and battery, and ejectment. In all cases tried before such justices the right of appeal, without prepayment of costs, shall be secured by law; provided, that the governor may appoint one notary public for each election precinct in counties, and one for each ward in cities of over five thousand inhabitants, who, in addition to the powers of notary, shall have and exercise the same jurisdiction as justices of the peace within the precincts and wards for which they are respectively appointed; and provided, that notaries public without jurisdiction may be appointed. The term of office of such justices and notaries public shall be prescribed by law.


Sec. 27. An attorney-general shall be elected by the qualified electors of the state at the same time and places of election of members of the general assembly, whose term of office shall be for two years, and until his successor is elected and qualified. After his election he shall reside at the seat of government, and shall be the law officer of the state, and shall perform such duties as may be required of him by law. Sec. 28. The style of all process shall be "The State of Alabama," and all prosecutions shall be carried on in the name and by the authority of the same, and shall conclude, "Against the peace and dignity of the state."


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