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Judicial Experience Bill Headed to Gov. Riley for Signing;
Legislation Championed by Rep. Paul Demarco And Supported by State Bar

Brad Carr
Alabama State Bar
Public Information Officer
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(334) 782-2781
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Montgomery, Ala., May 8, 2009 – The Alabama State Bar today (May 8) hailed the passage of an important bill which sets minimum experience requirements for judges and is headed to Gov. Riley's office where it is expected to be signed. The legislation, which improves the administration of justice for all citizens was unanimously supported by the state bar.

State Bar President J. Mark White of Birmingham (White Arnold & Dowd P.C.) applauded passage of SB 28. "Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Paul DeMarco, who drafted the legislation, and the spirit of bi-partisanship exhibited by Sen. Roger Bedford, the citizens of our state can be confident that a judges' ruling is the product of experience and the application of the law to the set of facts."

The bill requires that anyone sitting on a state appellate-level court (i.e., Supreme Court, Court of Civil Appeals and Court of Criminal Appeals) be licensed as a lawyer for at least 10 years. Circuit judges would need to have five years of experience as a lawyer and district court judges would need at least three years of experience. The bill would require that candidates for judicial positions in the 2010 elections have the required experience. Current judges are exempt from the requirements.

White noted the significance of this act merits a public signing event by the governor. "Representative DeMarco's tireless efforts to improve the quality of our judiciary was simply good public policy. Judges make life and death decisions every day so who wouldn't want them to have experience?," White said.

There are approximately 30 states that have adopted similar judicial experience requirements. All Southeastern states with the exception of Tennessee and North Carolina have such laws.

The 16,000-member Alabama State Bar is dedicated to promoting the professional responsibility, competence and satisfaction of its members; improving the administration of justice and increasing public understanding and respect for the law.