And we're not talking about a right-wing, whack-job guy who presides over a court in the sticks.
We're talking about Suzanne Childers, who hears domestic-relations cases in Jefferson County, home to Alabama's largest city (Birmingham). Childers, by the way, is a Democrat who has shown no signs of being a gun-loving fruit loop.
In fact, 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. (See here and here.)
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. (Much more on that coming soon.)
Childers only became concerned about security after a financial crisis caused the county to lay off 46 sheriff deputies. Domestic-relations court, where contested divorces are heard, went from having two deputies to none.
After Childers became afraid for the safety of two female attorneys in her courtroom--and officers took 40 minutes to respond to her panic call--she decided to get qualified to bring a gun to court.
An expert says the public usually does not become concerned about court security until there is an incident. But Childers says, once an incident has taken place, it's too late. Writes The Birmingham News:
"We need some help," (Childers) said. "I am just really concerned that someone is going to get hurt in my courthouse because, I hate to say it, but it's an angry courthouse. Every day people come to court, someone is angry at someone else."
Childers makes a good point. All courthouses can be angry places. After all, that's where people go to have disputes heard. Certainly, the parties are at fault in some cases. But it doesn't help when our justice system is permeated with corrupt judges.
Some litigants might be particularly edgy in Childers' courtroom because they've heard about Jefferson County's richly-deserved reputation for corruption in domestic-relations court--a reputation driven largely by Judge Ferguson.
Corruption, and angry litigants, are hardly limited to domestic-relations cases. As we've reported here at Legal Schnauzer, we've had firsthand experience with at least two Jefferson County judges--Allwin Horn and Robert Vance Jr.--who are demonstrably corrupt.
And don't even get us started on Shelby County, where the whole bench seems to be a cesspool. We know for sure that J. Michael Joiner, G. Dan Reeves, and Ron Jackson are crooks. And since Joiner is the presiding judge, it's hard to imagine that there is an honest arbiter anywhere near the Shelby County Courthouse.
It's too bad that Suzanne Childers feels she has to take courtroom security into her own hands. Our guess is that she realizes the problems in Alabama courts go way beyond a shortage of deputies.