Home Columns Inside the Statehouse By Steve Flowers

Inside the Statehouse By Steve Flowers

Among the plethora
of races on the ballot this
year are the important seats
on the Alabama Supreme
Court. We have an unprec-
edented five out of nine
seats up for election.
Our Alabama Supreme
Court as well as our Courts
of Criminal Appeals are
extremely conservative,
pro-business and all Re-
This conservatism
dates back to the 1980’s
and 1990’s. During
that two-decade run, the
plaintiff lawyers controlled
and dominated our State
Supreme Court. We were
known throughout the
country as a Plaintiff’s
paradise. It was like a fai-
rytale jackpot justice sys-
tem. It was not uncommon
for ludicrous multimillion
dollar verdicts to be upheld
daily for all types of cases.
We were called Tort Hell
by “Time Magazine.”
Tort reform became the
dominant issue in the Halls
of the Legislature.
When you have un-
bridled monetary verdicts
coming out of Alabama
that gives a plaintiff mil-
lions of dollars for having a
wreck in a General Motors
vehicle, it affects the entire
country. General Motors
does business in all 50
Well the business
community throughout
the country and in Ala-
bama decided enough was
enough. They decided to
close down tort hell. They
put their money where their
mouth was and replaced
an all Democratic plaintiff
trial lawyer Supreme Court
with an all Republican
pro-business court. The
pendulum has swung com-
pletely from left to right.
If yesterday’s court was
extremely liberal, today’s
Alabama Supreme Court is
extremely conservative.
These five open seats
will be held by conserva-
tive Republicans when the
dust settles at the end of the

year and they begin their
six-year terms. It is just a
matter of which Republi-
can presides and decides
the major cases that affect
Will Sellers, a very well
respected Montgomery
attorney, was appointed
by Governor Kay Ivey last
year to Place 3 on the high
court. Justice Sellers is
running without opposition
and will have a full six-
year term.
Popular Justice, Tommy
Bryan, also has no opposi-
tion and will return for
another six-years on the
high tribunal.
Justice Jim Main who
has had a distinguished
career as a private law-
yer, finance director and
Supreme Court Justice,
cannot run for reelection
due to an antiquated law
that disallows judges to
run for reelection after they
turn 70.
Main’s Place 2 is be-
ing sought by Jefferson
County’s John Bahakel
and Jay Mitchell, also of
Circuit Judge, Debra
Jones of Calhoun County
has been a judge for a de-
cade and has run a get ac-
quainted race for the court.
She will be formidable.
This place was held
by Justice Glen Murdock
who is originally from
the Wiregrass. Murdock
retired a few months ago
and Governor Kay Ivey did
a good day’s work when
she appointed another
Wiregrass native, Brad
Mendheim to replace him.
Mendheim has served a
decade as a Circuit Judge
in Dothan. He is very well
respected in his hometown.
He is seeking a full term.
Sarah Stewart of Mobile is
also in the race and should
benefit from being from the
vote rich Mobile-Baldwin
The battle royale will
be for the Chief Justice
post. The Chief Justice not
only presides over the nine

member Supreme Court
but also oversees the entire
Court System.
Justice Lyn Stuart cur-
rently presides as Chief
Justice. She is running for
a full 6-year reign.
When the business com-
munity orchestrated the
takeover of the Court, they
brought in the vaunted Karl
Rove to mastermind the
plan. When he departed,
victoriously, he left with
this admonition, “The best
candidate that you can put
forward is a female Repub-
lican who has some experi-
ence as a Circuit Judge.”
Alabamians prefer fe-
males on the Bench. If you
have a race for Judge in
Alabama and you have two
names on the ballot, one
Sue Smith and one Sam
Smith and neither spends
any money on campaigns
and neither is known, Sue
Smith will win.
Lyn Stuart epitomizes
this scenario perfectly. She
became a respected Circuit
Judge in Baldwin County
at a very young age. She
was elected to the Supreme
Court over a decade ago
and is the longest serving
member of the Court.
She will be pitted
against another sitting
member of the Court,
Justice Tom Parker. He has
excellent polling numbers.
He was Roy Moore’s clos-
est ally on the Court. Stu-
art is the sweetheart of the
Business Council. Parker
is the darling of the social
The race for Chief
Justice will be one of the
premier contests this year.
See you next week