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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Alabama Judge Switches Parties for Purely Electoral Reasons

Suzanne Childers

An Alabama domestic-relations judge says she is switching parties because of a gradual change in philosophy. But a source tells Legal Schnauzer that Suzanne Childers really is becoming a Republican because she feels a white Democrat no longer can win elections in Jefferson County.

Childers told The Birmingham News that she had been watching Fox News and found herself more and more agreeing with its conservative commentators. But a source, who knows Childers personally, told Legal Schnauzer last week that the judge felt it was no longer possible to win elections in Jefferson County as a white Democrat. Childers reportedly made that statement after several white judicial candidates lost to black candidates in recent Democratic Party primaries.

This is the second time Childers has been in the news of late for peculiar reasons. Last December, she announced that she was carrying a gun with her to court for protection. That came after the county had laid off 46 sheriff deputies during a financial crisis.

These two stories might make Childers seem like a bit of a loon, and that's unfortunate because our sources say she is the best judge in a Jefferson County domestic-relations court that is wracked with corruption. Here is how we described her in an earlier post:

Our sources say Childers is far and away the best domestic-relations judge in Jefferson County, which might not be saying much. One of Childers' colleagues, Ralph A. "Sonny" Ferguson, is a hideously bad judge and has been the subject of coverage at Legal Schnauzer.

Our sources say there is a pretty good chance of receiving justice when your case is before Childers, mainly because she does not play favorites with certain Birmingham law firms--something Ferguson is notorious for doing.

Here is how The Birmingham News describes Childers' decision to become a Republican:

Childers said Tuesday that she started watching the conservative-oriented Fox News Channel and increasingly found herself agreeing with what its commentators said.

"It's been a gradual progression," Childers said. "I have become more and more aware that my values, principles and ideas are more parallel with the Republican Party."

In a statement, Childers said the switch was "in the people's" best interest.

"It's in the people's best interest if I remain a judge," she said when asked to explain her statement.

The first part of that statement, according to our source, is not true. Childers really is changing affiliations because she thinks it will help her win elections.

The second part of the statement, while it sounds arrogant, might be true. Childers surely knows that a number of other judges who have served on the domestic-relations court are hopelessly corrupt. And it's probably true that Childers is the only hope many parties have of getting an honest ruling in a Jefferson County divorce case.

Just how bad is the corruption in the domestic-relations court? We soon will be starting a series of articles that will lay it out in grotesque detail.

6 comments:

Robby Scott Hill said...

I wish Justice Childers good luck with her new political party. It didn't work out too well for poor Parker Griffith who thought rich White people in Huntsville would ignore his Democratic past. Honestly, if I thought I didn't stand a chance of getting elected as a Democrat, I would run as an Independent. If she truly is a great judge and she can't manage to get 5,000 registered voters in Jefferson County (a county with approx. 5,000 legal professionals who work with her office on a regular basis) to sign a petition to get her name on the ballot as an Independent, then perhaps she has a bigger problem than the Democratic Party.

Anonymous said...

"Just how bad is the corruption in the domestic-relations court?"

Things aren't any better in Montgomery County.

On July 20, 2010, the Alabama Democratic Conference filed a complaint against Circuit Court Judge Patricia Warner over what the organization's chairman said are questionable and misleading campaign tactics. Joe Reed, chairman of the ADC, filed a complaint with the Judicial Inquiry Commission, alleging that a campaign flier produced by Warner as part of her re-election campaign improperly implied the state organization had endorsed her. Secretary of State Beth Chapman heard complaints that misleading sample ballots were being distributed that were in the same format and color as the Alabama Democratic Conference but were labeled “Alabama Democratic Committee.” Alabama Democratic Conference chairman Joe Reed said the ballot was designed to deceive voters into thinking Warner had been endorsed by his organization when in fact the ADC had endorsed Brown.

Warner was the only Montgomery County circuit judge to face opposition in the primary. Her opponent Kathy Brown said she had compiled data that indicated Warner has a reversal rate of approximately 41 percent, which includes cases that were either fully or partly reversed or where a petition was granted. Warner said those numbers, which she had obtained from the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals, were closer to 30 percent.

Warner won the primary with 53%. At Doc's Political Parlor, comments about television ads that Judge Warner ran during the primary:

...it does concern me that Pat has a higher reversal rate than the other judges. Of the cases appealed, 30-40% is pretty good odds and as an attorney if I had a case and I didn’t like the ruling – based on those numbers from both sides, I’d roll the dice on an appeal as overall reversals are rare, except apparently in 30-40 percent of Pat’s cases.

...Does anyone else find it problematic that we have a judge recruiting people who have benefitted from her rulings to endorse her reelection? Particularly in a field like family law, where the court typically has ongoing jurisdiction and can revise a custody determination at any time?

http://www.politicalparlor.net/wp/2010/05/20/dueling-ads-in-montgomery-judicial-race/#more-8228

Anonymous said...

Appearance usually is a good insight to reality and excusing Judge Childers' appearance as a "loon" as stated is probably no exception. By her own statements presented here she expresses her desire to change for better electoral prospects but then deflects those self-motivated changes as in the "best interest of children". Really? The facts are that she will face opposition from her own party because she has been a very controversial judge. Half of the domestic relations attorneys in Jefferson County are excused from practicing before her because of inappropriate communications the judge had written later admitting her own mistakes and the gravity of her inappropriate conduct. Let's call this what it is, a politician in the cloak of a judge doing whatever she can do to save her state retirement and income. This isn't some sucessful attorney who became a judge to contribute to the good of the people, this is a night school attorney who had a unsucessful law practice that by chance benefited from the fallout of charges of corruption against her opposition. She's not an humble servant, but an opportunist seizing upon public displays of personal promotion including her well publicized (on CNN no less)carrying of a firearm into the court room. How exactly do such displays promote justice or benefit the children who she has a sworn duty to protect? Of course these actions don't, they serve only to promote the interest of Judge Childers.

James Greek said...

and I will tell you that the Republican Party is pro-gun so she will run into controversy carrying a gun if she is in the democratic party.

Anonymous said...

Of Judge Warner's cases that make it to appeals at least 90% are overturned. My case is among her overturns. Judge Patricia Warner is so legally incorrect that I suggest you try anything to get out of her court if you are a woman. Otherwise, start saving money for the appeal and wait till the end to report her to the Judicial Inquiry Commission. Everything you try to do in her court will be designed to waste your resources and weaken you in every way.

legalschnauzer said...

I'm hearing Judge Warner has serious problems with the JIC investigation. It takes a lot to get the JIC to take action against a judge. But Warner apparently crossed so many lines that even the JIC could not ignore it.