When a judge is accused of misconduct, who brings the charges?
That vital issue is concerning not only to the general public but also to citizens with court cases, lawyers who represent citizens in front of judges, law enforcement, and other judges.
For many years, the answer to that question in Alabama has been Billy C. Bedsole until he passed away recently at his home in Mobile.
He was appointed to the Judicial Inquiry Commission in 2011. He became its chairman in 2015.
The Commission enforces the ethical rules that govern Alabama’s state judges. Its jurisdiction includes sworn complaints concerning any state judge’s alleged violation of the ethical rules, misconduct in office, failure to perform judicial duties or inability to perform judicial duties because of a physical or mental disability.
In addition, the Alabama Supreme Court has authorized the Commission to advise judges regarding their duties under the ethical rules.
After the Commission brings a charge against a judge, it leads prosecution in a hearing before the Court of the Judiciary. The court can discipline or remove a judge if found guilty.
Bedsole was a graduate of the University of Alabama Law School. He was admitted to the bar association in 1963.
He was chosen for the Howell Heflin Award for the attorney who “brought honor and integrity to the legal profession.”
Bedsole practiced law with the Mobile firm of Stockman & Bedsole. He had practiced with a younger Jeff Sessions before Sessions ran for Attorney General of Alabama and the U.S. Senate and was appointed by President Donald Trump as U.S. Attorney General.
In addition to his legal career, Bedsole was an athlete and avid runner. He was a long-time football and basketball coach for the Youth Conference. His win/loss record was an amazing 325-9-1. He was Coach of the Year 13 times.
A street was named for Bedsole in Mobile’s Municipal Park off Zeigler Boulevard.
Arrangements will be announced.
Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor.
You can reach him for comments at [email protected].