News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Moore, Shashy, Welch for appellate courts

We recommend court of appeals candidates Terry Moore, Bill Shashy and Sam Welch in the June 6 Republican primary.

Mr. Welch is challenging Republicans Clay Crenshaw, Alva Lambert and Beth Kellum for Place 3 on the Court of Criminal Appeals.

He is the sole judge in the 35th Judicial Circuit, which includes Monroe and Conecuh counties. He is known as a tough, no-nonsense judge. He is intelligent, has a commanding presence and, even outside the courtroom, has little patience for irrelevancies.

Our only reservation in endorsing him was whether it would pull him away from what he does best. He said, however, that he plans to retire in January if he loses the appellate election.

We were particularly pleased with his willingness to talk bluntly about what he sees as activism by Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker. Judge Welch, a member of the Federalist Society, is more conservative than we might like, but the best method of correcting Justice Parker's habit of ignoring the law in deference to his own agenda may be a groundswell of opposition from other judges in the state.

Judge Welch, who graduated from The University of Alabama School of Law, is a veteran who saw active duty in the Gulf War. He is also active in community affairs, particularly those aimed at helping children.

Judge Welch has solid competition in Republicans Beth Kellum, Clay Crenshaw and Alva Lambert, but his experience and no-nonsense demeanor put him at the top of the list.

The winner will face Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur in the general election.

We make no endorsement for the Democratic primary for Place 2 on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Jamie Durham of Montgomery or Claude E. Patton of Mobile will face incumbent Republican Kelli Wise.

In Place 1 of the Court of Civil Appeals, we endorse Terry Moore over Mark Anderson. This is a tough call. Both are articulate and show sparks of wisdom that would serve the state well. Mr. Moore has no judicial experience, but has considerable experience in workers' compensation, a field that generates a large percentage of Court of Civil Appeals cases.

Mr. Moore is cozier with big business than we would prefer, particularly businesses that have large workers' compensation exposure. He convinced us, however, that partisan and corporate ties will have no impact on his judicial philosophy.

The winner will face Demo-crat Ray Vaughan in the general election.

We endorse Judge Bill Shashy for the Place 3 Court of Civil Appeals. He faces Terri Willingham Thomas and Phillip W. Wood. The winner will face Democrat Jim McFerrin in November.

Judge Shashy, who presides over the 15th Judicial Circuit, was appointed to the bench in 1996, after more than 15 years in private practice, by then-Gov. Fob James.

Judge Shashy has not shied from controversy, even at the risk of alienating his party. Most recently he showed character in his handling of a case involving prison overcrowding.

Like Judge Welch, Judge Shashy has a clear understanding of a judge's authority. He is not to make law, but apply it. Before his appointment to the bench, Mr. Shashy represented corporations including CSX Transportation Corp. and Conair Corp. He graduated from Cumberland School of Law and was formerly a lawyer for the Alabama Securities Commission.

The headline judicial races in June are on the state Supreme Court, but solid candidates who understand their role could temper the excesses of some Supreme Court justices. These Republicans could help accomplish quiet judicial reform, as could several of the Democrats they will face in November.

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