Who may file?
Anyone may file a complaint with the Commission, including a member of the Commission or the Commission’s staff. The complainant does not need to be an Alabama resident, does not need to be a party to a proceeding before the judge, and does not need to be related in any way to the alleged misconduct. The complainant must only be able to attest that his or her statement of facts and allegations is “true and correct to the best of my knowledge, information and belief.” The Commission does not consider anonymous complaints.
Requirements for filing
The Commission takes complaints against judges very seriously. However, a complaint must be properly submitted for the Commission to conduct an evaluation and investigation.
A complaint must be submitted in writing, must specifically name a judge (and not simply name an entire court), and must contain enough specific facts for the Commission to evaluate the judge’s alleged misconduct or disability. Also, be sure to provide any documents that may support your allegations.
Please see the information sheet and instruction sheet provided with the complaint form for further details.
What the Commission does not do
The Commission does not generally review legal error or disputes about the merits of a judge’s decision. The Commission does not have the authority to change a court ruling, decision, or order. Filing a complaint is not a substitute for appeal and has no effect on your legal or appellate rights. If you want or intend to appeal from a judge’s order, you must pursue your appellate rights through the judicial system. The appellate process is subject to strict deadlines, and you should immediately obtain legal advice about your appellate remedies. The Commission cannot provide legal advice.
The complaint form, information sheet, and instruction sheet can be found by clicking the button below:
Remember, the complaint form must be signed and notarized. The Commission does not consider anonymous complaints. You must send the original signed and notarized complaint form, not a copy.
Where do I send the complaint form?
Once completed, you may submit the complaint via U.S. mail to:
Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission
401 Adams Avenue, Suite 720
P.O. Box 303400
Montgomery, AL 36130
Keep a copy of everything you submit to the Commission. Once you send something to the Commission, it cannot be returned. But remember, you must mail the Commission your original signed and notarized complaint form, not a copy.
What happens after I send the complaint form?
You will receive a letter by mail acknowledging receipt of your complaint, which will be sent to the address provided on the complaint form.
Based on its preliminary review, the Commission must decide within 70 days of receiving a complaint whether to conduct further investigation. During that time, please do not contact the Commission for updates on your complaint. Because of the Commission’s strict confidentiality rules, information about a complaint cannot be given out over the phone or by email to anyone, including the complainant.
If the complaint is dismissed, you will receive a letter notifying you of the dismissal.
If the Commission decides within the 70 days to conduct further investigation, it must notify the judge within 14 days of its decision. Please note, if the Commission decides to open an investigation, a copy of your complaint and all supporting materials will be provided to the judge against whom the complaint is made.
Recent history of filed complaints
The Judicial Inquiry Commission received 181 complaints against Alabama judges during fiscal year 2022, and it carried over 17 complaints to fiscal year 2022. Of those 198 complaints, 108 were dismissed without investigation on the Commission’s findings that each complaint did not present either a reasonable basis to charge, a claim within the Commission’s jurisdiction, or an ethical violation, or a combination of any of those three. In addition, the Commission completed investigation of 17 complaints and subsequently dismissed those complaints. The Commission met with four judges regarding seven complaints against them, resulting in the Commission dismissing four of those complaints. The Commission filed charges against two judges in the Court of the Judiciary, one resulting in a judge’s 120-day suspension without pay and another, resolved by agreement, with a judge’s 45-day suspension without pay and other terms.
From its inception 1973 until the present, the Commission has filed formal charges in the Court of the Judiciary 64 times.