IN THE MATTER OF:
MARVIN W. WIGGINS, CIRCUIT JUDGE
FOURTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT OF ALABAMA
On May 4, 2009, the Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a
complaint with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary charging
Marvin W. Wiggins, Circuit Judge of the Fourth Judicial
Circuit, with violating the Canons of Judicial Ethics by
failing to recuse himself from a proceeding arising out of a
voter fraud investigation.
The Court of Judiciary is a nine-member, constitutionally
created judicial body that is only “convened to hear
complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, ” Art. VI,
§ 157(a), Ala. Const. 1901, pertaining to alleged violations
by judges of the Canons of Judicial Ethics as adopted by the
Supreme Court of Alabama.
Based on the facts as stipulated by Judge Wiggins and the
Judicial Inquiry Commission, this Court hereby finds as
1. Judge Wiggins, at the request of the Attorney
General, convened a grand jury to investigate voter fraud in
Hale County, Alabama.
2 Pursuant to the.,investigation, the, Attorney General.I.s,·, …..
Office issued a subpoena, and a Hale County’District court
judge issued a search warrant. Judge wiggins granted a motion
to quash the subpoena and the search warrant, although the
motion had not been duly assigned to him, and without giving
the Attorney General an opportunity to be heard on that
3. The Attorney General thereafter filed a motion asking
Judge Wiggins to recuse himself from proceedings involving the
4. Although the subpoena and the search warrant Judge
Wiggins quashed did not directly involve Judge Wiggins I s
relatives, he knew that his sister, Gay Nell Tinker, his
brother-in-law, Bobby Singleton, and his first cousin, Carrie
Reaves, were among those who were being in~estigated in the
5. Judge Wiggins knew that as the absentee-voter
election manager, his sister, Gay Nell Tinker, was likely to
be a material witness in the investigation and prosecution of
the voter-fraud investigation out of which the subpoena and
search warrant were issued. Judge Wiggins nevertheless failed
or refused to recuse himself until 29 days after being ordered
to do so by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
6. The failure of Judge Wiggins to recuse himself from
proceedings in which his close relatives were the subject of
investigation constitutes a serious breach of the Canons of
Judicial Ethics and an intentional act of misconduct. The
Canons of Judicial Ethics are not merely aspirational
guidelines for proper judicial conduct; they are binding on
all judges by the oath taken upon assuming officer and
violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics can serve as the
basis for disciplinary actions.
Public confidence in the integrity of our judicial system
requires that the decisions of our courts not be influenced by
private loyalties. The impartiality of the judiciary is a
right of the citizens r not a private right of judges. The
public must be able to trust that our judges will dispense
justice fairly and impartially. Judge Wiggins r by his
actions r disregarded that trust.
On the basis of the stipulated evidence r not all of which
is set out herein r this court finds Judge Marvin W. Wiggins
guilty as charged by the Judicial Inquiry Commission of
Alabama of violating Canons 1r 2r 2.A.r 2.C. r 3.C. (1) (a) rand
3C (1) (d) (ii) of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
This Court finds that Judge Wiggins’s conduct is withoutreasonable
excuse or justification and hereby publicly
reprimands and censures him for his conduct. He is also
suspended, without pay, from serving as a circuit judge for 90
days. Howe~er, because Judge Wiggins has been disqualified
from serving, with pay, since May 4, 2009/ the date the
complaint was filed with this court/ we order that he be
reinstated to service as of Monday, August 3, 2009. He will
serve without pay for 90 days beginning August 3/ 2009, after
which he will be restored to full pay.
Done this 30th day of July 2009.