Hastings promises ‘fairness’ in courtroom

Published 7:49 pm Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Circuit Judge candidate Clif Hastings said the 12th Circuit’s residents have grown accustomed to fair courtroom leadership, and that’s what he hopes to continue if elected to the Place 2 judge seat.

“We need to continue to have the level of representation that’s fair and impartial that we have come to know,” Hastings said.

Hastings is running against Shannon Clark of Coffee County in the June 1 Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Joel Lee Williams in November. The seat is now held by Democrat Judge Robert Barr, who is set to retire at the end of the term.

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Hastings is a Pike County attorney with the Cevera, Ralph and Reeves law firm in Troy. Previously, he was an adjuster with Alfa Insurance and a police officer in Eufaula.

“I have a very diverse background, which is important for a judge,” Hastings said. “When you look around a courtroom, all you see is diversity.”

Hastings said his experience as an insurance adjuster includes the handling of hundreds of cases, and as an attorney he said he has dealt with every type of case with the exception of bankruptcy and tax laws.

“I believe my diverse background makes me uniquely qualified (to be judge),” Hastings said. “I’ve done so many things prior to this office. I believe I’m well-rounded and can relate to all segments of society — I can relate to the common man and the wealthy.”

Hastings is running his campaign platform on promises of integrity, wisdom and fairness.

“I just know the people deserve someone to fill the position who is hardworking, fair and would rule according to the law, regardless of if they agree with it or not,” he said.

And Hastings said he would follow the law and ensure fairness to all parties involved.

“One of the reasons I’m running is I’ve been approached by a lot of my peers to run because they know me to be a fair and impartial person, one who would not let my relationships cloud my judgment,” Hastings said.

Hastings said with his background, he would be tough on crime in the courtroom.

“Obviously my ultra-conservative views as a lifelong Republican, coupled with my police training, will make me tough on crime,” he said.

With this particular circuit judge race comes an issue of an unwritten gentleman’s agreement. In the agreement, the Bar Associations of Pike and Coffee counties agreed to have a judge seated from the communities where each of the three courthouse circuits is located. Currently, those include Judge Robert Barr of Troy; Judge Thomas Head of Enterprise; and Judge Jeff Kelley of Elba.

The three rotate in the circuits, but their home offices are in the courthouses where they reside. Hastings said he believes it is important to have representation in all the areas.

“I was not around when the gentleman’s agreement was made, but I believe every area of the circuit should be represented,” he said, referring to the fact that Clark lives in Coffee County. She has said if elected she would put her office in Troy’s courthouse. “But equally important to me are the quality of the individuals, of which I believe I have the most diverse qualifications.”

Hastings said he would be fair to all in the circuit if elected, though his office would also be in Pike County.

“Irrespective of social status, irrespective of whatever background, I believe in being fair to people, and that’s the reason I’ve been successful wherever I’ve been,” he said.

Hastings said the circuit judge position is an important race for voters to cast their voices in because of the impact it has on a community.

“You should care about it because of the diversity. The circuit court hears felony crimes, civil matters above $10,000, child custody matters, divorce issues — it’s an extremely important position that impacts a lot of people,” he said.

Editors note: Stories about the other circuit judge candidates are publishing this week. Shannon Clark’s, Republican, was printed Tuesday. Joel Lee Williams, Democrat, will be published Thursday.