Supreme Court and State Law Library

Supreme Court and State Law Library

AOC Museum Area

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The Administrative Office of Courts is on this floor. The Administrative Office of Courts, under the direction of the Administrative Director of Courts, provides the centralized, state-level administrative support necessary Mahogany Chair for the operation of the state's court system; the development of improved procedures and systems to increase the operational capacity of the courts; and the collection and dissemination of the information necessary for the development of policy to promote the more efficient operation of the courts.

"Wooton Desk" bought in 1880. Patented by Wooton, who later became a Quaker minister. Others still in existence belonged to Joseph Pulitzer, the founder of the New York World; John D. Rockefeller, who organized the Standard Oil Company; Prof. Spencer F. Baird, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; and D.C. Sidney Lanier (now at John Hopkins University).

Portrait of John Archibald Campbell. Justice Campbell was Alabama's contribution to the United States Supreme Court during the antebellum period. He was married to Chief Justice Goldthwaite's sister.

Portrait of Judge Anthony Sayre. Associate Justice of Supreme Court, father of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, who was wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Governor John Gayle. John Gayle was governor during the forced removal of the Indians ("Trail of Tears").

Other portraits are of Silas Parsons, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1849 to 1851, and Daniel Coleman, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1851.

The building exhibit occupies three walls. The first shows conditions in the old judicial building on Dexter Avenue and the beginnings of the plans for a much-needed new building under the tenure of Chief Justice Livingston.

The second wall shows the actual building under construction, entitled "The Great Monument to Justice Takes Form," with photographs from the groundbreaking to completion.

The third wall is displayed over a mock-up of the mahogany Supreme Court bench and shows the plans and finalization of the grand Supreme Court Courtroom on the third floor of the new building.

The unusual oak partners' desk was among the original furnishings of the Houston County Courthouse in Dothan in 1903, and beside it are a Victorian office chair (left of desk) donated by former Chief Justice Torbert and a wood and iron dictionary stand (to right of desk) from the old Supreme Court and State Law Library.

The importance of the judiciary, and the separation of powers.

In 1829, the Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court came under attack when a money lender named Kelly, who lived in Huntsville (then the financial center of the state), brought suit to have them impeached by the Senate.

Under the Territorial Constitution of 1818, any restrictions on lending money were eliminated, so that anybody could lend money at any rate of interest. In 1819, when Alabama became a state, this was not changed, even though the U.S. Constitution forbade usury. Kelly and other money lenders were making a fortune lending money at 50% and 100% per month, and people were going bankrupt constantly. The Supreme Court met in Tuscaloosa and decided it was unconstitutional for money lenders to charge outrageous rates.

The money lenders accused the Supreme Court of interfering with the Alabama Constitution. The Alabama Senate heard the case, and acquitted all the Justices. This was the first step towards a judiciary that was independent of the other branches of government. The Supreme Court was the only appellate court, and the Justices were elected by the legislature, and had been a subsidiary to the legislature and the executive branch. The 1867 Constitution provided for judges to be elected independently, as they have been ever since.


Library Information


The library is located on the first floor of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building.


Alabama Supreme Court and State Law Library
300 Dexter Avenue Montgomery, AL 36104


The Library is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. except State holidays. (Calendar)

Contact Information

Supreme Court of Alabama
Court of Civil Appeals
Court of Criminal Appeals
State Law Library