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State to pay justice’s attorney fees in free-speech dispute

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama agency that investigates judicial ethics complaints has agreed to pay $100,000 in legal fees for lawyers representing Associate Justice Tom Parker in a free-speech dispute.

Parker’s attorneys with the Florida-based Liberty Counsel on Thursday released details of an agreement between them and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission.

Besides agreeing to pay the lawyers, the document shows the commission has agreed not to enforce judicial ethics rules that limit what judges can say in public. Parker challenged the rules as a violation of First Amendment rights.
A federal judge still must approve the settlement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center had filed a complaint against Parker over his public comments opposing same-sex marriage.

Parker is seeking the Republican nomination for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in Tuesday’s primary.

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