Judges visit Pike County

Published 6:27 am Friday, March 9, 2012

Two Alabama judges were in Troy Thursday to meet with local court officials and area residents.

“I’m out just making the rounds,” said Chief Justice Chuck Malone on Thursday morning. “It’s fun to meet people.”

This was Malone’s third trip to Pike County since the governor appointed him to his position in August.

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Thursday’s stop was part of a state tour to meet voters before the March 13 primary elections.

Malone said that he feels funding is a big issue in Alabama’s court system and he is working hard to correct that.

“Regardless of your job in the court system, if the doors aren’t open, you can’t do your job,” Malone said.

Right now, staffing levels in clerks’ offices are averaging 50 percent. Malone estimated the Pike County office was at 40 percent.

“We are trying to get our staffing level up to 70 percent,” he said.

Malone also said the state was lacking in the technology and equipment court staff needs to do their job well.

He said the state operates using a DOS system and uses Windows 03.

“I asked for an additional $18 million for use for clerks and other offices around the state.”

Malone is a lifelong Republican who was elected to the circuit judge bench in 2000. He was re-elected in 2006 and colleagues twice elected him as presiding judge.

“I am an optimistic person and I believe things are looking up in Alabama,” Malone said. “I ask for people’s support and their votes and their prayers.”

Judge Debra Jones is the circuit judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Alabama and has qualified to be a Republican candidate for associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in Place 1, the seat currently held by Justice Thomas Woodall who is retiring.

Jones, who was elected to the bench in 2010 said she’d been involved in a trial for the last three weeks and her trip to Troy was part of whirlwind tour of Alabama to encourage voters to go out to the polls on March 13.

“There is no Democratic candidate for this position,” Jones said. “So voters will decide the next supreme court justice on Tuesday.”

Jones said public service has always been in her heart. She was an attorney for 20 years and founded Mercy House for Calhoun and Cleburne counties. She also co-founded the local children’s advocacy center there.

During her time in the legal world, Jones established several laws for Alabama. She created the Sexual Torture Law, the Felony DUI Law and has established case law for child sexual abuse victims.

Jones said she hopes, if she is elected, to be an example of what a supreme court justice should be.

“A supreme court justice should be fair and impartial and they should be consistent,” Jones said. “I do not believe that they should be influenced by special interests. Justice for all. Justice is not for sale.”