Montgomery, Ala. December 19, 2008–Alabama legislators are getting an early Christmas present from the Alabama State Bar – a Christmas stocking with a letter announcing that two former governors, two former Congressmen, a former mayor and a retired judge are returning to the state Legislature as members of a "Panel of Neutrals" created by the bar to serve as a resource for state legislators.
The list of seven Alabamians that make up the initial panel includes:
The Hon. Delores R. Boyd
Congressman Jack Edwards
Senator Frank C. (Butch) Ellis, Jr.
Congressman Ronnie Flippo
Mayor Scotty McCallum
Governor John M. Patterson
Members of the "Panel of Neutrals" will be available to assist the legislature in seeking consensus; in working through discord; and in resolving barriers to progress. The panelists will not seek to advance any piece of legislation, but each of them will be available to any legislator who requests assistance in sorting out the pros and cons of legislation. The Christmas letter states that “when and how they serve is totally up to you."
State Bar President J. Mark White of Birmingham (White Arnold & Dowd P.C.) said, "The purpose of convening this group is to provide a service to the legislature. While we recognize the political nature of the legislative process, we hope this gift will help the men and women who represent our state."
A Legislative Task Force co-chaired by Birmingham attorneys James Pratt (Hare Wynn Newell & Newton LLP) and former state bar president Fournier J. "Boots" Gale, III (Maynard, Cooper & Gale, P.C.) recommended the panelists.
"We believe this is a creative way to assist our lawmakers...the gift of a 'Panel of Neutrals' illustrates the fact that lawyers take seriously the motto of rendering service to their community and state,"White said.
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.