By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Supreme Court Justice candidate Debra Jones was in Pell City to address the St. Clair County Republican Party.
Jones is a Circuit Court Judge in Cleburne and Calhoun Counties. She is running for the Place 1 on the court. This place was vacated last month where Justice Glenn Murdock left the bench to pursue other opportunities.
Jones said the she was elected in 2010, defeating a 20-year Democratic incumbent.
“We are a very busy court room with a lot of trials,” Jones said.
Jones said that she began her legal career in St. Clair County as a clerk for Bill Weathington and Jim Hill. Both would later become Republican judges. Hill, a state representative, currently chairs the House Judiciary Committee in the Alabama Legislature.
Following graduation, she went to work for the Calhoun County District Attorney’s office as a prosecutor. There, she founded the Calhoun Cleburne Children’s Advocacy Center. The children’s center is a professional residential place for children to be interviewed by trained counselors when they have been victims of abuse or neglect.
There, she authored the Felony DUI Act.
“We had those chronic drunk drivers,” Jones said. “A Judge would convict them and then they would get arrested again. I had one person I convicted nine times.”
Mothers Against Drunk Driving helped pass the legislation, which would make the fourth conviction a felony punishable up to 10 years.
She also authored the Sexual Torture Act. A father, a missionary, was caught raping his five-year-old daughter with an inanimate object by the mother.
Since it was not rape under Alabama law, then all they could convict him of was a Class C felony, and he has appealed that conviction despite admitting to it on the stand. With the help of the Children’s Trust Fund, Jones was able to convince the Alabama Legislature to change the law so that rape with an inanimate object is a Class A felony.
Jones was in private practice for 16 years. She co-founded the Daybreak Rape Crisis Center, a free counseling center for rape victims. Jones also founded and operated Mercy House, a faith based domestic violence shelter for women and children.
Jones has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama and a law degree from Cumberland. She has been married to her husband, William, for 26 years. They have five children. They, as a family, are very active in sports and church.
Jones said that a recent report showed that we are the number one state for corruption in the whole country. “I don’t like that.”
She praised our lawmakers for forcing Bentley to resign and former Attorney General Luther Strange for getting a grand jury together to convict then Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.
“My judicial philosophy is that judges should follow their oath of office by respecting the rule of law, by strictly interpreting the law according to the constitutions as they are written, and by applying the law without fear and without favor,” Jones said in a statement. “As Circuit Judge with years of criminal and civil jury trial experience, I have served with integrity, discernment, and honesty. I have consistently and fairly applied the law equally to everyone according to the constitutions of Alabama and of the United States. As an attorney, I have practiced in many areas of the law particularly in criminal, civil, probate, juvenile, and family law. This invaluable experience will be an asset to the Alabama Supreme Court and to the people of Alabama.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently appointed Brad Mendheim to fill that vacancy on the court, and Mendheim has since qualified to run for the position. Sarah Hicks Stewart, a circuit judge in Mobile, is also running in the Republican primary on June 5.
There is no Democratic candidate running for the seat on the court.
The next meeting of the St. Clair County Republican Party will be 6 p.m. Thursday, March 15 at Moody City Hall. There will be barbecue catered by Bowling’s Barbecue of Odenville.