By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY — Gov. Robert Bentley has appointed Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall as the next attorney general of Alabama, according to the Governor’s Office Friday.
“It is a great honor to be named Attorney General, and I am thankful to Governor Bentley for the opportunity to serve the people of Alabama,” Marshall said. “The time spent working alongside law enforcement for the last 20 years has been a remarkable privilege. As Attorney General, we will continue to support their efforts to keep Alabamians safe and free from violent crime.”
Before his appointment, Marshall was serving as the chief prosecutor for the north Alabama county of Marshall County on the 27th Judicial Circuit, which includes the city of Guntersville. He was appointed in 2001 and was reelected in 2004, 2010 and 2016 without any opponents.
“Steve is a well-respected District Attorney with impeccable credentials and strong conservative values,” Bentley said. “I know he will be a great Attorney General who will uphold the laws of this state and serve the people of Alabama with fairness. Steve has been instrumental in key legislation to protect Alabamians when it comes to opioid abuse, and I know he will continue to uphold the law as he serves as the state’s top law enforcement official.”
Marshall also had a private practice law firm, McLaughlin & Marshall. He has served as a district representative for Alabama and Georgia to the American Bar Association. While serving as a prosecutor for the Arab and Albertville municipal circuits, he was also a legal analyst for the Alabama House for several legislative sessions.
Having served as a past president of the Alabama District Attorney’s Association, Marshall built connections with other prosecutors throughout the State that would have presumably made him a viable choice for Attorney General.
Efforts to reach Marshall for comment by the time of publication were unsuccessful.
The vacancy was left at the top of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office because of the resignation of Sen. Luther Strange, whom Bentley appointed to the US Senate Thursday. With Strange’s appointment, the question arose of what power the new Attorney General will have over any investigation of Bentley, if one exists.
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Bentley also interviewed Sen. Cam Ward, Sen. Phil Williams and considered Chief Deputy Attorney General Alice Martin and Fayette County District Attorney Chris McCool for the position.
“I think he’s got a good pick,” Ward said. “Steve Marshall has a great reputation as a prosecutor. He will do a good job as attorney general, and I look forward to working with him.”
Ward, who interviewed for the position Friday morning, told APR Thursday that he would recuse himself from any Bentley investigation if he were named AG, but wasn’t ready to call on Marshall to do the same.
“That will be a personal decision for him to make, but that’s just morally what I thought anybody in that position would have to do,” Ward said. “But that will be up to him. He has a good legal mind.”
Williams, who also interviewed Friday, said he was happy to be considered, but thought Marshall was a good choice.
“I certainly appreciate the Governor thinking of me in that regard, and I wish Steve Marshall the best,” Williams said. “It is a broad, and wide-encompassing job in the midst of a very difficult time. He has my support.”
The new AG will have to decide whether to recuse himself based on what type of investigation there is, if there is one at all, Williams said.
“It depends on what is in front of him at the time,” Williams said. “If it is something that comes up where he is assisting, or working and providing input, I don’t think so. If he is presiding over the full-blown investigation, and therefore prosecuting something related to the Governor’s Office, he will have to consider recusing himself because he received an appointment from the Governor.”
In addition to Ward, Martin, McCool, Williams and Marshall, the Governor also interviewed Bryan Taylor, general counsel to the State Finance Department, Board of Education member Mary Scott Hunter and Sen. Tom Whatley from Auburn.