Gen. Ed Crowell not qualified for appointment as Montgomery County probate judge, will not serve
After being appointed as Montgomery County probate judge by Governor Kay Ivey on Wednesday, Brigadier General Ed Crowell (USAF, Ret.) on Thursday morning discovered he is too old under Alabama law to assume the position.
Crowell had been appointed to fill the vacancy created by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed’s inauguration on Tuesday, however the state’s maximum age limit for judges apparently bars him from being eligible for the appointment.
In a statement, Ivey explained, “This morning, I was made aware that General Ed Crowell is unqualified to serve as Probate Judge due to the age required under our state’s constitution.”
“I regret he will not be able to assume this post,” she added. “General Crowell has one of the most impressive resumes that includes many years in service to our country which should be commended. I appreciate his willingness to serve and know that he will continue to be an active leader in his community.”
Crowell commented, “It was an honor to have been selected by Governor Ivey to serve as Montgomery County’s next Probate Judge.”
“Regretfully, there was some confusion on my part about the state’s mandatory age requirement regarding judicial positions. As such, I have notified the Governor that she should choose someone who fulfills the requirements outlined in Alabama’s constitution,” he outlined.
“I apologize to the Governor for the confusion and regret the distraction this has caused and will look forward to serving my state in some other way if asked to do so,” Crowell concluded.
The relevant law states that “[n]o person shall be elected or appointed to a judicial office after reaching the age of seventy years.” In McAfee v. Milam, the Alabama Supreme Court held that this language “include[s] within its operation the office of probate judge and therefore prohibits any person seventy years of age or older from being elected to that office.” Although that case involved a prospective candidate for election to the office of probate judge, nothing in the text of the constitution or the logic of the high court’s reasoning would dictate a different outcome for prospective probate-judge appointees.
Ivey will soon name a new appointee to the vacancy.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn