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Alabama Supreme Court
Voter Guide 2006

Nonpartisan information about the Alabama Supreme Court and the
2006 general election candidates running for seats on that court

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Drayton Nabers, Jr.
for Chief Justice

Biographical Information
Place of Residence: Birmingham, Alabama
Family: Wife:  Fairfax; Children:  Mary, Deak, and Sissy; Grandchildren:  Maggie (Age 2) and Bo (Age 1).
Education: Princeton University (B.A., 1962)
Yale School of Law (J.D., 1965)
Occupation: Chief Justice, Alabama Supreme Court
Bar Admission(s) &
Date(s) of Admission:
Alabama (1967)
Legal & Judicial
I have spent the last 40 years of my life working as a lawyer, businessman and judge.  Immediately following my graduation from Yale School of Law, I was honored to serve as a clerk at the United States Supreme Court for Justice Hugo Black, Alabama's first (and only) U.S. Supreme Court Justice. I practiced law with the Birmingham firm of Cabaniss, Johnston, Gardner, Dumas and O'Neal for 12 years before becoming General Counsel at Alabama-based Protective Life Corporation, where I ultimately became President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board.  It has been my honor to serve as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court since 2004.  
Other Experience: Following my retirement from Protective in 2002, I was appointed Finance Director for the State of Alabama by Governor Riley.  I served as Finance Director until my appointment to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2004.  I have also served as an Adjunct Instructor at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, where I taught a course in Christian Ethics.  I am the author of A Case For Character: Looking at Character from a Biblical Perspective.  
Honors & Awards: I am a member of the Alabama Academy of Honor and I've had the privilege of serving as chairman of Leadership Birmingham, United Way of Central Alabama and Cornerstone Schools of Alabama (which I invite you to learn more about by visiting www.csalabama.org).  I also served as Director of the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army.  
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Campaign Contact Information
Address 1: P.O. Box 550310
Address 2:
City: Birmingham
State: Alabama
Zip Code: 35255
Voice Phone Number: 205-801-9265
Fax Phone Number: 205-801-9052
Website: www.draytonnabers.com
Email Address:
(or Contact Webform Address)
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Questions & Answers:
1.  How have your training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve on the Alabama Supreme Court?

I have over forty years of real world experience as a lawyer, businessman & judge.  Following my graduation from Yale School of Law, I served as a law clerk at the United States Supreme Court.  I tried cases as a lawyer at a Birmingham firm, where I practiced law for 12 years.  I have cast thousands of votes in cases involving virtually every area of law as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.  And my decades of experience in the senior management of one of Alabama’s largest companies has uniquely equipped me for the challenge of serving as the chief administrator of the entire Alabama judicial system.   Serving as the judicial system’s chief administrator is a big, big job, as the Chief Justice is responsible for the management of approximately 2,000 employees and a budget over $160 million.  I believe that it is critically important for the Chief Justice to have meaningful administrative experience in order to ensure a high quality, efficient judicial system for all Alabamians.

2.  What do you consider to be the three most important attributes of a judge?

First, integrity.  Second, wisdom.  And third, a solid understanding of the law.

3.  What is your judicial philosophy?

I am a judicial conservative.  I have done, and will continue to do, my best to decide each case that comes before our Court fairly and impartially – regardless of the parties involved - with faithful commitment to the fundamental principle that in a democratic republic judges are to interpret and apply the law, not make it.

4.  How do you define “judicial independence,” and how important is it to our judicial system?

Judicial independence needs to be understood in relation to the separation of powers.  An independent judiciary is a judiciary that remains independent of influence from the executive and legislative branches of government.  This is the essential foundation of the rule of law.

5.  What is the greatest area of need in the Alabama justice system, and how should the Supreme Court respond, if at all?

The most important need of any organization, including the Alabama justice system, is to continuously improve quality.  This is done in a number of ways, but a very important factor is the Alabama Judicial College, which had been discontinued before I became Chief Justice, and which I have reestablished and enhanced.  

Upon my appointment as Chief Justice in 2004, our courts were facing a significant financial and administrative crisis, as budget shortfalls had triggered large layoffs of court staff.  The result:  a tremendous backlog of cases in courts throughout the state, as the remaining court system employees, despite their tireless efforts, simply could not keep pace with the demands of dockets and filings.

Since 2004, however, we have formulated and begun to implement a number of new initiatives – including E-Filing, E-Appellate, E-Citation, the Traffic Call Center, and AlaPay – that are improving the quality and efficiency of justice in Alabama, even at the reduced manpower levels that our courts are currently facing.  In fact, our E-Filing program has established Alabama as a national leader in the use of technology, making our courts among the most efficient in the nation.  To learn more about the positive impact of these and other initiatives, I invite you to review the 2005 Chief Justice’s Report, which can be found on the Internet at www.draytonnabers.com/Nabers_Report.pdf.  

6.  What part, if any, should public opinion play in the decision of a judge?


7.  In a case before the court, how should a judge handle a conflict between his/her personal beliefs and the law?

In order to maintain the strength and integrity of the rule of law, personal beliefs (other than a deeply held religious belief) must always be subordinate to the application of the law.  In matters involving a conflict between the law and a judge’s deeply held religious beliefs, however, I believe a slightly different analysis should be employed.  A judge’s role is to strictly interpret the law, not to disregard existing law or create new law because of their religious beliefs.  However, a judge may be confronted with a situation placing his/her religious beliefs in conflict with the law.  In the event that the judge cannot reconcile a conflict between his or her religious beliefs and what the law dictates, that judge should either recuse himself/herself from the proceedings or resign their office. 

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Neither the League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund nor the Alabama Appleseed Center for Law and Justice endorses any political candidate or party. The information presented here is intended solely for the education of Alabama voters. Responses to the questionnaire are printed verbatim as submitted by the candidate.