What qualifies you to be an Alabama Supreme Court Justice?
I love the law. And like many people, I am embarrassed by the constant articles and editorials that have been questioning the impartiality and integrity of the court. Corruption, favoritism, and political gamesmanship are the words that define our Court – and my background is best suited to stop it.
With more than 20 years of legal experience and seminary training, my career is dedicated to integrity, honesty and the highest ethical standards.
My law degree gives me the tools to deal with the technical issues that come before the Court, and my courtroom experience brings practical understanding. If elected, I would be the only justice who has tried both civil and criminal jury trials; represented injured workers and employers in workers’ compensation claims; handled divorces, child custody, child support cases, property line disputes and all manner of appeals. No current justice has this level of practical law practice, trial experience.
My seminary degree gives me the tools to uphold the values we espouse as a state, and my ministry in the church helps bring a caring understanding of people. If elected, I would be the only justice to hold a Masters in Divinity and to have been a minister that led a church.
My life experience is built on restoring lives. My voice is founded on a plain, practical approach, and my energy will be focused on restoring integrity to the Alabama Supreme Court.
Does the BP situation affect the Alabama Supreme Court races, if so how?
The BP Oil disaster will have a day of reckoning and a settlement of accounts. When that day arrives, it will be ultimately handled with our judicial system. Every Alabama citizen needs to have faith that we have a robust legal system that can fairly address the disposition of the greatest environmental disaster our coast has ever experienced. Every Justice on the Supreme Court will be challenged to set precedents that will shape how the State will respond to this and future environmental disasters.
Who would you like to set these precedents? What kind of judge do you want hearing these types of cases?
The choice in my race is simple. My opponent is an entrenched “big money” incumbent who has a record of voting for Big Oil interests over the State of Alabama, such as the Exxon case. I have a record of fighting for Alabamians and working in the community to protect the most vulnerable. There is a clear distinction.
If elected, what will be your judicial philosophy?
Too many judges are quick to say that they are strict constructionists, judicial activists or refuse to answer. These are not philosophies. They are political labels that are used to manipulate public opinion.
I want to be clear; political motivations have no place in the Alabama Supreme Court. The current clouds of corruption that surround our Court have been created because of special interests that want judges with philosophies that protect them instead of philosophies that treat everyone equal under the law. They have undermined any sense of judicial independence and fairness.
My philosophy is simple, it is “to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with the Lord, my God.”
What about the obscene amount of money spent on elections?
Our Supreme Court has developed a shameful perception that “Justice is for Sale.”
Clouds of corruption are overtaking our Court because of the incredible and obscene amounts of money pouring into these races from outside sources. The problem is so big that a long line of State Bar presidents has raised this perception problem as the most pressing legal concern in Alabama. From all standpoints it looks as if the court is being controlled by out-of-state interests – and that the citizens of Alabama are not equal before the law.
There are judges on the court who have received massive amounts of money from special interests; one judge received $540,000 from one business interest alone. When Exxon and out-of-state drug companies come before the court, the Court has voted repeatedly against the interests of the State of Alabama. News of leaks and impropriety on the Court have gotten so bad, that the Court has initiated an investigation against itself.
How do we get these clouds of corruption to dissipate?
First, we must be open and transparent. Pac-to-Pac transfers of political money need to stop. Second, the current Riley Court needs to be voted out of office. We need fresh new faces, such as my own, to be elected to the Court. And the 8-1 unbalanced Court needs to be brought into balance ideologically.
Finally, each justice needs to pledge that their top priority will be to erase the clouds of corruption and restore integrity to our Court.