(Updated) Alabama Court of the Judiciary issues final judgement in case of District Judge Kim Chaney

Cullman Bar Association prepares resolution in support of Judge Chaney

The Honorable Judge Kim Chaney (W.C. Mann for The Cullman Tribune)

Updated 2-25-20 at 6:43 p.m. with a copy of the Cullman County Bar resolution supporting Judge Kim Chaney. See the bottom of this article to read the resolution in full.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – In a hearing Monday afternoon in Montgomery, retired Cullman District Judge Kim Chaney submitted to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary an agreement between himself and the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC, which brought a complaint against Chaney Feb. 7, 2020, based on alleged incidents between 2015 and 2017), in which they agreed to a guilty verdict on three charges brought against the judge in that complaint.

Chaney was charged with improperly appointing his son Alex Chaney to cases as an indigent defense attorney and with taking actions in those cases despite being disqualified to do so. Additionally, the JIC charged that Chaney’s actions constituted a pattern of behavior. None of the charges was criminal in nature.

In the joint agreement, both sides stipulated that “Judge Chaney be adjudged guilty of Counts I, II, and III of the Complaint and has agreed to retire from the office of judge on or before February 18, 2020.”

Chaney also agreed to pay $3,731.25 in court costs associated with the case.

The nine-member Court of the Judiciary accepted the agreement as presented.

The agreement prevents formal proceedings for the judge, who had 27 years on the bench and had been eligible for retirement for some time.

Local attorneys voice support for Chaney

As Chaney prepared to walk into the courtroom in Montgomery, the Cullman County Bar Association began drawing up a resolution stating its support for the longtime judge. See the resolution in full below.

Attorneys have noted that Alex Chaney was one of multiple area lawyers who had indigent defense contracts issued by the State of Alabama between 2012 and 2016 to selected applicants from a list submitted by a local commission. That commission was made up of local lawyers who would not participate in the types of cases for which these indigent defenders would be appointed, and did not include any judges. 

Local attorney Roy Williams, who was a member of the local commission, has spoken in support of Judge Chaney. On Monday, he sat down with The Tribune to answer questions and talk about the judge.

Asked if any judge ever requested the recommendation of a particular attorney for a contract, his response was simple: “No.”

According to Williams, after the first contracts were issued, the commission did meet with judges to review the performance of contracted attorneys for future contract consideration, but the judges did not make recommendations for the issuance of contracts in either of the two years of the program.

He said once a contract was issued, the attorney was put on a rotating list; when a case came up requiring indigent defense, the presiding judge would assign the case to the next attorney on the list. After a lawsuit temporarily shut down the contract program in 2015, a review panel examined Cullman’s system and determined that it was “exemplary,” and ordered its reinstatement. The program was discontinued after 2016.

Williams said that Judge Chaney did assign cases to his son during the contract program period, but only when it happened to be the younger Chaney’s turn on the rotating list. Additionally, any subsequent actions taken by Judge Chaney on his son’s cases were routine matters of paperwork that did not involve approval of payments or affect the outcomes of those cases.

Said Williams, “I guarantee you: I will apologize to everybody in this world if you find one thing that Kim Chaney signed that put money in his son’s pocket, or altered or changed anything within that case, period, if it for his benefit or to the detriment of any defendant. I guarantee you will never find it, because it doesn’t exist.”

Williams commended Chaney as a fair judge, and said, “If I had a civil case, and Alex Chaney was on the other side and Judge Chaney was the judge, I wouldn’t ask him to recuse, because I know his integrity is such that he would not rule against me because of Alex. If Alex had the right side, he’d rule for Alex; if I had the right side, he’d rule for me. No questions about it; no questions about it at all. That’s how much confidence I have in his integrity.”

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Cullman County Bar Resolution Supporting Judge Kim Chaney by TheCullmanTribune on Scribd


W.C. Mann