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Stephen C. Wallace

Circuit Judge
10th Judicial Circuit - Criminal Division

801 Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North, Suite 405
Birmingham, AL 35203
(205)325-5323 /

Stephen is a 2001 graduate of the University of Alabama School of Law. He also has a B.S. in Finance from Birmingham Southern College. Upon receiving his Juris Doctorate he worked at Partner, Dawson & Wallace, LLC trying over 40 civil and criminal jury trials, including capital murder and other serious felonies. He represented police officers and other public service employees in administrative employment appeals, represented plaintiffs in First Amendment and employment discrimination cases, and successfully prosecuted civil rights actions. As a Circuit Court Judge, Stephen presides over felony and misdemeanor cases.

Stephen is a frequent moderator and speaker for the Birmingham Bar Association, is a Special Municipal Court prosecutor, a volunteer for Homeless Experience Legal Protection, and has been recognized by peers as one of Birmingham’s top criminal attorneys.

The Circuit Judge who recommended Stephen said, ”I have had the honor of watching Stephen develop from a law student into a lawyer and now, to a very accomplished judge. Stephen entered the legal profession not because he wanted to make a lot of money, but because he loved to see the law and the justice system work on behalf of human beings. As a practicing criminal defense lawyer, it was obvious that Stephen was advocating on behalf of a person who was a client, not just a client. Rarely in this day and time do we see young lawyers eager to use the law to make a difference in someone’s life rather than to make a living. Rarely in this day and time do we see lawyers who are themselves role models for other lawyers as well as the people they represent and their neighbors in the community. As a judge, Stephen is so conscientious. He wants to follow the law and he wants to see it applied fairly. Judge Wallace wants to know all there is to know about the case before him. He doesn’t want to make knee jerk rulings to move a case along, but rather wants to do the right thing under the law and on those decisions where he has discretion he wants to do the fair thing for all those involved. Judge Wallace knows that the legal system doesn’t operate in a vacuum. He is aware that his decisions have a far reaching impact into the lives and well being of many people. He also has a keen sense of the affect of what judges do on a daily basis has on local communities.”

In his own words Stephen said, “My unique legal experience and practice makes me a solid candidate for the Leadership Forum Class 9. Prior to joining the bench, I primarily represented individuals in criminal and civil damage suits. Through an extensive trial practice, I was able to gain experience in the courtroom trying a range of cases. In addition to trying jury trials, I also represented public employees in administrative employment appeals and successfully prosecuted civil rights actions. During the course of my legal practice, I felt strongly that I could make a contribution as a judge. In 2010, after receiving encouragement from my peers, I decided to run for a Circuit Court judicial position. Running for office is an experience like none other and Jefferson County has a diverse population that compels you to meet a wide range of people and personalities. Campaigning was also a particularly time consuming and demanding endeavor for me and my family. Out of approximately two hundred and eight thousand votes cast, I won by less than four thousand votes. It was an extremely thrilling and humbling experience to win and I certainly owe it to my supporters and family. In January 2011, I was sworn into office as a Circuit Court Judge presiding over criminal cases. I can honestly say that I enjoy waking up every day and coming to work. It has been a most rewarding experience and I feel honored to serve. Because of my unique legal and political experience I can provide different and valuable points of view to the class. I am most proud of the civil rights actions my firm prosecuted to stop the illegal practice of incarcerating indigent defendants because of their inability to pay nominal fines and court costs. In particular, my firm filed suit against city courts seeking class-wide injunctive relief regarding their treatment of criminal defendants. A number of municipal courts were notorious for warehousing indigent defendants simply because they lacked the means to pay certain fines and costs for traffic or misdemeanor convictions. Eventually, these cases were resolved, and the defendants agreed to stop these unlawful practices and implement procedural safeguards to ensure against future abuses. These efforts also served to highlight the vast disparity of how our legal system treats those persons with affluence and wealth relative to those that are poor. Fortunately, through the course of the litigation, the named defendants along with other municipalities stopped these practices and sought to provide indigent defendants with adequate legal counsel and alternatives to incarceration. Also, through some of the publicity it generated, it brought this matter to the public’s attention. Through the Leadership Forum, I would like to increase my involvement with the bar and build stronger bonds with others who are also committed to making Alabama a better place. Some of the most valuable lessons I have learned have been from other lawyers. The Leadership Forum would be a great opportunity to forge stronger bonds with lawyers from diverse practices, backgrounds, and geography to strengthen me, and I hope them, in service to our profession and community. Finally, we live in a state that needs the legal profession to step up and contribute. Alabama has a number of chronic problems that require attention, thoughtfulness, and leadership of serious people. Unlike other lines of work, lawyers and judges have often contributed in meaningful ways to advocate our state for the better. I would like to participate in that important service of trying to advance the legal profession and particularly our state.”