Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals

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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 currently housed in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama.

The court is composed of five judges, one of whom is elected by the 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[edit]

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. The two newest members of the court were 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. Judge Joiner has announced his candidacy for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court and will face Justice Will Sellers in the June, 2018 primary.

Governor Bentley also appointed Marshall County District Judge Liles C. Burke to the court on February 16, 2011, to fill the remainder of Justice Kelli Wise' term.[4] Justice Wise was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in November 2010. Judge Burke was elected to a full six-year term on November 6, 2012. He was nominated for a U.S. District Court Judgeship for North Alabama in July, 2017 by President Donald Trump which will create a vacancy upon his confirmation.


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[edit]

Current judges[edit]

Judge Party First elected Term ends
Mary Becker Windom, Presiding Judge Republican 2008 2014
Samuel Henry Welch Republican 2006 2018
J. Elizabeth Kellum Republican 2008 2014
Liles C. Burke Republican 2012 2018
Michael Joiner Republican 2012 2018

Former Court of Criminal Appeals judges[edit]

  • 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)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Alabama Judicial System - Court of Criminal Appeals
  2. ^ Judicial System Chart
  3. ^ Associated Press article 2/7/2011
  4. ^ Associated Press article 2/16/2011
  5. ^ About the Alabama appellate courts

External links[edit]