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State Bar President Responds To ‘Swift Boat Tactics’ Used In Supreme Court Race

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Brad Carr
Alabama State Bar
Public Information Officer
(334) 517-2128 or
(334) 782-2781
brad.carr@alabar.org
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Montgomery, Ala., October 9, 2008 – Alabama State Bar officials have been made aware of a telephone campaign being waged by an out-of-state special interest group to spread misinformation and disinformation about one of the candidates running for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Voters in Alabama have been targeted to receive a “push poll” phone call claiming the state bar has conducted a judicial evaluation poll that gave one candidate an “F” grade and that the bar’s membership is primarily affiliated with the Democratic Party.

State Bar President J. Mark White of Birmingham (White Arnold & Dowd P.C.) said, “Let me make this very clear: the state bar does not conduct an evaluation poll of any judicial candidates and the state bar has no way of knowing the political affiliations of its members. These falsehoods and misrepresentations are nothing short of reprehensible.”

White also said that today he has communicated with both candidates about this matter and shared the bar’s concern with the Judicial Oversight Committee.

He noted there is no evidence to suggest that one of the candidates is aware of or condones these tactics. “Judges Paseur and Shaw are to be commended for adhering to the highest standards of judicial campaign conduct,” he said.

White said Alabama’s voters should not be misled by special interest groups who use lies and distortion to attack judges. Such attacks are examples of how far third party support groups are willing to go to win. “It is unfortunate that civility and intelligence have been replaced by a mean-spirited and misleading approach to the judicial election process that is truly unconscionable,” he said.

From a historical perspective, interest group involvement usually spikes as Election Day nears. Today, in states like Alabama that use elections to select judges, campaign costs have risen exponentially, television advertising has become a predominant feature in many campaigns, and special interest groups have begun to actively campaign for or against specific candidates. With increasing frequency, special interest groups are playing an active role in judicial elections.

He said voters who have questions about judicial campaign conduct should contact retired Circuit Court Judge William R. Gordon of Montgomery who co-chairs the Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee.

The 15,756-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.

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