Alabama’s courts resemble those of other states. Alabama’s judiciary includes a Supreme Court, Appellate court, and network of trial courts. However, Alabama splits its appellate division into a separate civil appeals court and criminal appeals court, rather than hearing both types of cases in the same court with the same judges as most other states do. Alabama also has a separate administrative office of the courts which oversees its trial courts.
There are 13,000 lawyers in Alabama. Attorneys in Alabama must be members of the state bar and are subject to discipline through state bar courts. Members of the public may not attend disciplinary hearings in Alabama. While disciplinary actions are proceeding, complainants are under strict gag orders and may not reveal anything about the case to anyone until the attorney is found guilty.
Although the number of civil suits filed in Alabama is not above national norms, in the 1990’s Alabama introduced reforms to its judicial system to deal with an increase in criminal court cases and appeals. Alabama also currently enforces the death penalty in cases of intentional murder.
Alabama was the epicenter of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Although the physical boycott of busses by civil rights heroes such as Rosa Parks was instrumental in galvanizing the civil rights movement, the actual court case which de-segregated the busses is often forgotten. The famous Montgomery Bus Boycott eventually led to the landmark case of Browder v. Gayle, where Alabama state courts once and for all outlawed segregation on public transportation. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court and was unanimously upheld.
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