|Robert Vance Jr.
Robert Vance Jr., the Democratic nominee for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is part of the cronyism that has caused our state to have one of the most corrupt "justice systems" in the country. That's why you can count me as one progressive who will be supporting Republican Roy Moore in November.
Why is Vance a dreadful choice as the Democrats' nominee? One reason is his crooked handling of a legal-malpractice case I filed in 2003 against a pair of lawyers from a prominent downtown Birmingham law firm. Vance violated simple, well-settled law by dismissing my claim, allowing his lawyer buddies to escape discovery that would have shown how they sold me down the river. I have more details coming soon about Vance's hatchet job on behalf of Jesse P. Evans III and Michael B. Odom, who were then with Adams and Reese/Lange Simpson and now are at Haskell Slaughter.
But perhaps more important is this: Vance is more than just a con man who protects the interests of the legal tribe while cheating everyday consumers; he is an "empty robe" on the bench, a man with no firm convictions about what it means to serve as a judge. We know that from his own words, as reported by Dana Beyerle in a Tuscaloosa News piece titled, "Robert Vance Jr. Promises a Positive Campaign: Democrat Says He Was Frustrated by Mudslinging."
I certainly do not endorse Roy Moore's curious mix of jurisprudence and old-time religion--and I normally would not even consider voting for him. But I do see signs that Moore is not a slave to legal elites, and I believe he might shake up the Alabama State Bar, which does little more than enable lawyer/shysters in our state. If a regular Alabamian has a case before Roy Moore, I believe there is at least a chance that the law will be correctly applied. Based on personal experience before Vance, I would say there is zero chance he would rule correctly under the law. That's why Roy Moore will get my vote in November--and it's why I hope Alabama Democrats will think twice before reflexively casting a vote for Vance Jr. just because he has a "D" by his name.
At the very least, we know Roy Moore has convictions about something. While I think he is misguided about religion's place in the public square, Moore seems to have some respect for the rights of regular citizens who come before the court. I can't say the same for Robert Vance Jr.--and I see no signs that he has firm convictions about much of anything. Hence, the term "empty robe."
Consider Vance's explanation for his failure to join the chief justice race from the outset; Vance jumped into the breech only after Moore had handily won the Republican primary and after Democrats had disqualified perennial candidate Harry Lyon. From the Beyerle article:
Vance said he didn’t qualify during the original sign-up window earlier this year because he thought appointed Republican Chief Justice Charles Malone was doing a good job and probably would be elected in November.
“I am a fan of Chief Justice Malone,” Vance said in a telephone interview. “While I didn’t know him, I was impressed with his efforts to make sure the court system functioned in a time when our budgets are slashed. Out of respect for him, I felt the court would be in good hands.”
What a load of garbage! Vance says he supported a Republican chief justice who happened to be a good paper pusher. That's inspiring, isn't it? Vance's only concern, it seems, is that the court system function properly--meaning, perhaps, that his paycheck shows up on time. Vance seems to have no concern about whether courts actually dispense justice, whether they uphold the law, whether they enforce constitutional principles, whether citizens from all walks of life receive fair and equal protection.
By his own words, Robert Vance Jr. doesn't care about justice at all. He's fine with a chief justice who does nothing more than "make the trains run on time." What can we expect with Vance holding the top spot in our court system? We can rest assured that rulings will be issued in our cases; they might not be remotely correct under the law, but by God, we will get screwed in a timely and efficient manner.
Is that what Democrats want from the chief justice of Alabama's highest court? Has the party of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act sunk so far on justice issues that it is content to have a paper pusher run for the state's highest judicial office?