MONTGOMERY — A lawsuit challenging Alabama's practice of electing appellate judges by statewide vote says the practice results in all-white courts in a state where one in four people is African American.

A federal judge will hear oral arguments next month in the 2016 lawsuit filed by the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and four black registered voters.

In a post-trial brief filed Monday, plaintiffs' lawyers said the at-large elections result in a "racially segregated judiciary" that violates the Voting Rights Act.

There has never been a black judge on the criminal and civil appeals courts. There have been three black judges on the Alabama Supreme Court but all were first appointed by governors.

State lawyers argue the process is not racially discriminatory and will file their brief later this month.

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