Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Article

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The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals is one of two appellate courts in the Alabama judicial system. The court was established in 1969 when what had been one unitary state Court of Appeals was broken into a criminal appeals court and a civil appeals court. The unified Court of Appeals had been operative since 1911. The court is housed in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building in downtown Montgomery, Alabama.

The court is composed of five judges elected in partisan elections, one of whom is elected by members of the court to serve as presiding judge. The Court of Criminal Appeals hears all appeals of felony and misdemeanor cases, including violations of city ordinances and all post-conviction writs in criminal cases.

The Clerk of the Court is D. Scott Mitchell. [1]


The Court of Criminal Appeals hears appeals on cases that have been decided at the Circuit Court level (of which there are 40 in the state). The five judges that sit on the Court of Criminal Appeals hear all criminal appeals including felony cases, convictions involving misdemeanors, and violations of multiple ordinances. [2]

Election of judges

Judges are usually elected to the court in statewide partisan elections for six-year terms on the court. However, the Governor has the power to fill court vacancies when they occur, usually due to death, resignation, or elevation to a higher court by one of its members. Two of the more recent members of the court were initially appointed under such circumstances. Michael Joiner, the Presiding Circuit Judge in Shelby County was appointed to the court on February 7, 2011, by Governor Robert J. Bentley, to fill the remainder of the term of James Allen Main. [3] Justice Main was appointed to the Alabama Supreme Court by Governor Bob Riley in January, 2011. Judge Joiner was elected to the remainder of that term on November 6, 2012.

District Attorney Chris McCool was appointed on November 9, 2018, to the vacancy created by the resignation of Liles C. Burke who still had 2 1/2 months remaining on his term. [4] Judge Burke had resigned from the court following his confirmation to a Federal District Judgeship on October 11, 2018. Due to his then pending U.S. Senate confirmation, Judge Burke, did not seek re-nomination to his seat in the June, 2018 Republican Primary. Chris McCool ran in the GOP primary for that seat and won a full six year term with the election on November 6, 2018.


To serve on the court, a person must:

  • Be licensed to practice law in the state of Alabama
  • Have resided in the state for a minimum of one year
  • Be no more than 70 years of age at time of appointment or election. [5]

The court's judges

Current judges

Judge Party First elected Term ends
Mary Becker Windom, Presiding Judge Republican 2008 2021
Richard J. Minor Republican 2018 2025
J. Elizabeth Kellum Republican 2008 2021
J. Chris McCool Republican 2018 2025
James William "Bill" Cole Republican 2018 2025

Former Court of Criminal Appeals judges

  • H. W. "Bucky" McMillan (R)
  • Sue Bell Cobb (D)
  • Frank Long (R)
  • Greg Shaw (R)
  • Pamela Willis Baschab (R)
  • Jean Brown (R)
  • James Allen Main (R)
  • Kelli Wise (R)
  • James H. Fry (D)
  • Mark Montiel (R)
  • Sam W. Taylor (D)
  • John M. Patterson (D)
  • Aubrey M. Cates, Jr. (D)
  • John Paul DeCarlo (D)
  • Reneau P. Almon (D)
  • Annie Lola Price (D)
  • John C. Tyson (D)
  • John O. Harris (D)
  • Liles C. Burke (R)
  • Samuel Henry Welch (R) (2007-2019)
  • Michael Joiner (R) (2012-2019)

See also


  1. ^ Alabama Judicial System - Court of Criminal Appeals
  2. ^ Judicial System Chart
  3. ^ Associated Press article 2/7/2011
  4. ^ Alabama Political Reporter website
  5. ^ About the Alabama appellate courts

External links