The Complex Chief Justice of Alabama

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore gets a lot of media attention.  He has forcefully opposed same sex marriage, and earlier in his career was removed from office due to his efforts to place the Ten Commandments in the Courthouse.  Is he a rightwing demagogue as some portray him as?  Perhaps he is more complex than the stereotype.  Chief Justice Moore says the case of a 76-year-man sentenced to life without parole for a drug offense shows the need to change sentencing laws.

In his opinion, Chief Justice wrote:

Moore issued a special writing Friday as the Supreme Court refused to overturn the case of Lee Carroll Brooker. “I believe Brooker’s sentence is excessive and unjustified,” Moore wrote.

Brooker lived with his son in Houston County, and court documents show police found a marijuana-growing operation there during a search in 2013. The elderly man was convicted of drug trafficking last year, and a judge sentenced him to life without parole because of past robbery convictions in Florida. His son was also convicted. Moore writes that the life-without-parole sentence for a non-violent drug offense shows “grave flaws” in Alabama’s sentencing system.

“A trial court should have the discretion to impose a less severe sentence than life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,” Moore added. “I urge the legislature to revisit that statutory sentencing scheme to determine whether it serves an appropriate purpose.”

 

The full opinion by Chief Justice Moore is available at this link.

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