Acting Chief Justice Says Seats Should Be Reduced

Montgomery, AL – The state's acting chief justice says Alabama could save about one million dollars a year by reducing the number of Supreme Court justices from nine to seven. Senior Associate Justice Gorman Houston says the changes could be implemented in January 2005. That's when he and Justice Douglas Johnstone retire at the end of their terms. Houston says the state Legislature has the authority to change the number of justices on the Supreme Court. Lawmakers did that in 1969 when they added the two justice seats to help reduce a large backlog of cases. At the time, it was understood the extra seats would be removed when the backlog was eliminated. Justice Houston says now might be a good time to make the change. Houston is serving as acting chief justice while Chief Justice Roy Moore is serving a suspension on ethics charges.