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General News    H3'ed 8/30/10

Alabama Democrats Pull a Shocker--And We Love It!

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Message Roger Shuler

Cross Posted atLegal Schnauzer

The Alabama Democratic Executive Committee last week threw a curveball at the public, while essentially flipping a giant middle finger to Gov. Bob Riley and the Alabama State Bar. We give both actions two thumbs up.

Most observers, including this one, expected the committee to remove Kenya Lavender Marshall from the general-election ballot for a spot on the Jefferson County Circuit Court and replace her with Nicole Gordon Still. The process that led to Marshall's removalreeked of politics, but we figured the Democratic committee would cave and pick Still, who had placed second to Marshall in the party primary.

We, however, underestimated the committee. They indeed removed Marshall, following allegations from the State Bar that she had misappropriated $30,000 in a client fund. But instead of going with Still, who had been appointed to the judgeship last June by Riley,they chose Birmingham lawyer Elisabeth French. With no Republican in the running, French is likely to take office in January 2011.

Our first reaction to the news was shock. After all, French (photo above) had not run in the primary. But state party bylaws do not limit who can be considered if a party nomination is vacated. The committee had every right to consider someone who had not run for the position, and we now think choosing French was a master stroke--the kind of gutsy, smart move for which Alabama Democrats are not always known.

On paper, French is at least as qualified as Still and more qualified than Marshall. Both French and Still have practiced law for 13 years, while Marshall has five years of experience.

We have not seen Still's full biography, but it appears that most of her experience has come while working in law firms operated by her father, Bruce Gordon. He worked for years at the state's largest employment law firm, Gordon Silberman Wiggins & Childs (now Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis) and now leads the Birmingham firm of Gordon Dana Knight & Gilmore. As we reported yesterday,Bruce Gordon has ties to the Rileys. He represented Alabama Pain Consultants, a company affiliated with Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the governor's son. We suspect that connection to the Rileys is the reason Nicole Gordon Still was appointed in the first place.

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I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and work in higher education. I became interested in justice-related issues after experiencing gross judicial corruption in Alabama state courts. This corruption has a strong political component. The corrupt judges are (more...)
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