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The Alabama Legislature recently passed a law which requires Judges to have minimum levels of experience before being eligible to run for office. Appellate Court Judges must have been a member of the Alabama State Bar for ten years. Circuit Court Judges must have five years of experience, and District Court Judges must have three years of experience.

The Appellate Courts consist of the Supreme Court of Alabama, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Court of Civil Appeals. In civil cases, Circuit Courts handle controversies involving amounts exceeding $10,000 (along with those between $5,000 and $10,000 if the parties file it in Circuit Court), and District Courts handle claims involving controversies over amounts less than $5,000 (in addition to evictions and some other claims).

Is this enough experience? I have been practicing law for 17 years, and only now would I feel comfortable in a Circuit Court position. In addition, I believe Appellate Court judges should be required to have experience as a Judge before being elected to an appellate position.

What levels would I recommend? I think Appellate Court Judges should have a minimum of fifteen years practicing law and one term as a Circuit Court or District Court Judge. Circuit Court Judges should have a 10 year requirement, and District Court Judges should have a five years of mandatory experience as an attorney. In addition, I believe judicial elections should be nonpartisan (not Republican or Democrat), and judges should be selected from a commission and appointed by the governor as it is done when a Judge retires mid-term.

What do you think?

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