Inmates Test Rules of Alabama Supreme Court

     MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) — Two inmates in the Alabama prison system are challenging rules established by the state Supreme Court that they claim directly contradict statutory law.
     Edmond Pope is currently incarcerated at the Loxley Correctional Facility, serving a 16-year sentence for possession of a controlled substance.
     Pope claims the Alabama Legislature enacted a requirement that a court reporter must provide transcripts of all proceedings during trial, but that a rule promulgated by the Alabama Supreme Court denies him the right to those transcripts.
     He contends this violates his constitutional rights because it states that in noncapital cases, the court reporter should take full notes of the voir dire of the jury only if directed by the judge.
     Pope claims he has been denied copies of the voir dire transcripts from his trial that would reveal “irregularities” that could potentially cause his conviction to be reversed.
     The second plaintiff, Tyler Penn, is currently incarcerated in the Cullman County Detention Facility for possession of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $11,000 cash, and it’s with this that he has an issue.
     Penn claims the bond was set by an “incompetent” magistrate who has no legal experience or authority. According to Penn, the Alabama Legislature has declared that only a judge can set bail in felony cases, but the Alabama Supreme Court and the Alabama Supreme Court Standing Committee on Rules established a rule that allows magistrates to set bail. This, he says, completely contradicts statutory law.
     Both men seek a declaration that the Alabama Supreme Court’s rules are illegal and unconstitutional. They are both represented by Thomas Drake, II of Cullman, Alabama.

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