Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Jack Montgomery


In August, we’re celebrating Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks, whether they be liars, thieves, extortionists, swindlers or thugs. A 30-part series running daily until Birmingham mayor Larry Langford’s Aug. 31 Oct. 19 federal trial. Thanks to Bhamwiki for helping with this project.

Jack Montgomery

Jack MontgomeryPosition held: state judge, attorney

Wanted for: racketeering and extortion

Date of conviction: Jan. 4, 1994

Sentence: Montgomery faced up to 100 years in prison, but was found dead in the basement of his Vestavia Hills home 2 days before sentencing. His death was ruled suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound, but the gun was never found. Montgomery had to be declared legally innocent by the court, since he had not been sentenced prior to his death.

Criminally fun fact: Montgomery, known as the “Slamming Judge,” scared defendants by flipping a coin to decide sentencing. He once set bail at a record $9 trillion.

Montgomery claimed to have been tortured as a prisoner of war during the Korean War, but never served.

Montgomery took bribes from a drug dealer to fix trials until caught by an undercover Hoover police detective. Prior to sentencing, he broke his hip while running naked down his driveway and also wounded himself with a chainsaw.

Birmingham Post-Herald reporter Steve Joynt wrote about Montgomery in the biography, “Jack’s Law,” which Memphis’ Flashlight Films is developing into a movie.

(Hat tip: The Progressive Electorate.)

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Additional reading:

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11 Yips for “Birmingham’s Biggest Crooks: Jack Montgomery”

  1. Progressive E
    Thursday, August 27, 2009, 8:45 pm

    The tales of Jack’s Law still run through the courthouse. Never got to experience Jack Montgomery.

  2. Wade
    Thursday, August 27, 2009, 11:15 pm

    Colorful? Yes.

    Dangerous? Absolutely.

  3. Judge “Mad Jack” Montgomery | flashpoint
    Wednesday, September 9, 2009, 7:49 pm

    […] month when “Wade on Birmingham” compiled “Birminghams’s Biggest Crooks”, I recalled the least boring judge I’ve ever seen. Seeing the list sent me on a drive down […]

  4. D Bishop
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 8:19 am

    As I stood in front of Judge Jack Montgomery in Alabama years ago, a fellow was getting sentenced for armed robbery, he had a suit on and a bible under his hand, he told the judge, “I found god” (and held up his bible) The Judge said “do you know how many people a day come before me with a bible saying “I found god”? …”At least 10, so that is what I am going to give you,10 years. “Next case”

  5. D Bishop
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 8:19 am

    I remember another story about Jack, This guy was in front of him for his 3rd felony. Jack said “Do you like golf?” The gentleman said “No” Jack said “Well, I do so I am going to give you life and go shoot 18 holes” the gavel falls. His mother in the crowd shrieks in horror. (Habitual offender act just went into play) I was to stand before him next. (I was terrified) I would bet my life he is still in prison.

  6. D Bishop
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 8:28 am

    To this day I can not vote in the state of Alabama because of Jack, my crime fell under the “youthful offender act” and I lost my privilege to vote in the state of Alabama for life when I signed it, some 30 years ago. At least I have no felony’s on my record and I can vote in other states.

  7. Wade
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 10:58 am

    People tend to think of Jack Montgomery as “colorful” and fail to see the price many people paid for such colorfulness. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. MP
    Saturday, January 2, 2016, 9:56 am

    I realize this is an old story, but I just wanted to ask some questions. I am 28 years old and have no recollection of this story or Jack Montgomery, nor do my parents, and we have lived here 25 years.

    I was looking at an old house for sale with intentions of flipping it for a profit. It’s been on the market for 400+ days, so I thought I could get a great deal on. I walked to the front door yesterday. It had a note about the house being found abandoned and that the mortgage company had been contacted. I didn’t think much of it. I wanted to look inside the house, but didn’t want to contact the real estate agent. All of the doors were locked, except for one around the back into a basement area. In fact, that door didn’t even have a lock on it.

    I opened the door and went in, there was no access to the rest of the house, but there was a door with an additional with a lock on it. I opened it and found an additional small basement area, walked in and looked around, then left the property with intentions of contacting the real estate company Monday morning.

    Last night (Friday night) I had a dream that I was walking through the house and it was full of porcelain dolls and dining room tables. I saw a man with a dentist-type mask on, and he saw me. He ran out of the house screaming. I tried to run out of the house but was locked in.

    I woke up and started researching the house. I discovered that the house is the one where Jack Montgomery was killed, which is how I actually came across the article on this website. I also discovered that the owners after his wife sold it only lived there for a few years before selling.

    Then the most recent owners abandoned the house, but didn’t foreclose on it.

    I am not a strong believer in anything supernatural, nor am I a religious person; however, I am an open-minded person and just find that this is all too coincidental.

    Can anyone give me any information about this house? I’m not going to post the address because I’d hate to know I was responsible for the house being pillaged or anything.

    I wanted to reach out to the previous owners, but I don’t want to seem like some weirdo.

  9. Aaron
    Friday, February 19, 2016, 8:20 pm

    Just out of curiosity is there any museums or anyone that may be interested on some of his old belongings I ran up on a bank book from Florence Alabama dated 1951 has his name signed don’t really know anything about it looked the mane up and this is what I found

  10. lynn kelly
    Tuesday, January 8, 2019, 6:35 am

    I knew a man who told me jack hired someone to kill him before his sentencing. He just didn‘t know when or where.

  11. Wade Kwon
    Wednesday, January 9, 2019, 12:57 pm


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