The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is continuing to hammer away, fighting against a judicial seat that was moved to a different county.

In May, Tiara Young Hudson won the Democratic primary for circuit court judge in Jefferson County. With no Republican running in the race, the SPLC claims that the election results were "tantamount to victory" for Hudson.

Weeks later, the Alabama Judicial Resources Allocation Commission (JRAC) moved the judgeship from Jefferson County's 10th Judicial Circuit to Madison County's 23rd Judicial Circuit.

JRAC was created by the legislature in 2017 and given the authority to relocate judicial seats; this is the first time JRAC has exercised that prerogative.

The SPLC, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Alabama, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hudson to challenge the constitutionality of the transfer.

The complaint claims the state constitution only allows the legislature to relocate judgeships, not JRAC.

In July, Assistant Attorney General Reid Harris filed a brief for the state that opposed the challenge to the judgeship reallocation, claiming the authority the legislature gave JRAC was not unconstitutional.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Jimmy B. Pool dismissed the case on August 12, a decision the SPLC is now appealing.

"It is imperative that the court block this unconstitutional removal of a judgeship from the diverse community of Jefferson County to a majority-white Madison County when there are better solutions for delivering adequate judicial resources to both communities," said Ahmed Soussi, the Voting Rights staff attorney with SPLC. "We will not rest until Jefferson County has fair representation in the judiciary and adequate resources to address the needs of the community."

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville), who represents Madison County, told 1819 News that the case law was well-established to defeat the appeal.

Givhan and JRAC claim that Jefferson County had an excess of judges while the growing Madison County desperately needed them. JRAC cited a 2020 caseload study in its ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court, which stated that Jefferson County had excess judges.  

Givhan said, "From my recollection, there are at least seven excess circuit judges in Jefferson County and a number of district court justices as well.

"[W]e are still, in Madison County, operating with a volunteer judge. Judge Smith is a retired judge, and he is essentially working for free. The county is providing him with a court reporter and an assistant, but at some point in time, he's going to get tired of continuing to work for free, and he's going to really retire, and we are going to be back to being three judges short here in Madison County."

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