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Alabama Appellate Courts
Voter Guide 2008

A nonpartisan guide to information about the Alabama Courts of Appeal
and the candidates running in those elections in 2008

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Clyde Jones
Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals, Place No. 1
General Election
November 8, 2008

Biographical Information
Place of Residence: Birmingham, AL
Family: Wife: Julia N. Jones
Two daughters:  Jakarra and Jasmine
Education: BA - Knoxville College
JD - Cumberland School of Law
Occupation: Circuit Judge - Criminal Division - 10th Judicial Circuit
Employer: State of Alabama
Bar Admission(s) &
Date(s) of Admission:
1980 State of Alabama
Legal & Judicial
          I have been a Circuit Judge for Jefferson County, Criminal Division for the past six years.  I have served as a Deputy District Attorney in the Tenth Judicial Circuit and an Assistant District Attorney in the Fifth Judicial Circuit.  I have also served as a partner in the law firm of Penick, Williams and Jones before opening his own law firm, Law Offices of Clyde E. Jones, P.C., in 1987.
Other Experience:  
          I have served the Magic City Bar Association (“MCBA”) as President in 1989, and also served as the MCBA’s representative to the Birmingham Bar Association’s Increased Minority Participation Committee.  During my tenure as President, I created the scholarship program that has evolved to the Magic City Bar Scholarship Banquet.  I have worked within the Birmingham Bar Association serving in various capacities, which include Chairman of the Criminal Justice and Procedures Committee (1994-1995), Chairman of the Municipal Courts Committee, Member of the Fee Arbitration Committee (1998-1999), Grievance Committee (1997-1998), Executive Committee (1994-1995), and Birmingham Bar Foundation (1996-1997).  I have also been a member of the Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
I am a 1989 graduate of Leadership Birmingham, and am currently serving a three-year term on Leadership Birmingham’s Members Council.  In 2005, I was appointed to a three (3) year term on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Symphonic Association, in 2006 to the Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Alabama, as well as the Advisory Board for the Cumberland School of Law.  Other accomplishments have included being a 2003 graduate of the National Judicial College, Member of the American Judicature Society, the Alabama Law Institute, Jefferson County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee and the Alabama Sentencing Commission.
Honors & Awards:           The Fred L. Shuttlesworth Freedom Fighter Award, the Magic City Bar Association’s 2004 Scroll Award, and the 2007 Fairfield Chamber of Commerce Civic Leader of the Year Award.   In October of 2007 I was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court  to serve a three (3) year term on the Advisory Committee on Alabama Criminal Procedure.
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Campaign Contact Information
Address 1: P.O. Box 10005, Birmingham, AL 35202
Address 2: 2222 Second Avenue North
City: Birmingham
State: Alabama
Zip Code: 35203
Voice Phone Number: 2055313503
Fax Phone Number: 2055314868
Website: www.judgeclydejones.net
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 Court of Criminal Appeals?

Having served as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge, I understand all sides of criminal law related issues.

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

Knowledge, integrity and patience.

3.  What is your judicial philosophy?

Appellate judges should follow the law as written and not legislate the law from the bench.

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

"Judicial independence" is vital not only to our judicial system but to our democratic society as envisioned by and imbedded in our Constitution. Whenever it is compromised for any reason, not only are our State and Federal Constitutions violated, but the public loses faith in the judiciary. Our society will only believe in our judicial system if the decisions and rulings made by it are based upon and perceived to be objective, fair and consistent with legal precedent and sound legal reasoning. If our legal disputes are based upon political considerations, characteristics of the litigants or the tide of public opinion, our society will breakdown and cease to function as a democracy. The court system needs to serve as a safe haven for its litigants, where politics plays no role in the decision-making process. Our judiciary must administer equal justice under the law which only occurs when our judges conduct trials and rule from the appellate bench based solely on the law as written. This is the way that I have constructed my court since 2002 when I first took the bench, and this is the way that I will conduct myself as an Appellate Judge on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The public deserves no less and our democratic system depends upon it. 

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

To ensure that the criminal laws of the State of Alabama and US Constitution are applied equally and fairly to all citizens.  The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals should respond by applying the law equally to all defendants, regardless of their station in life.

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

 If public opinion plays any role in the decision-making function of a judge, the judges cease to become fair and impartial arbitrars and become politicians.  Politicians answer to the whims of political tides.  The function of a judge is to decide a case based upon the rule of law and judicial precedent.  Deciding cases upon the perception of public opinion would destroy the public’s confidence in our judicial system which is based upon equal justice for all and fundamental fairness.  The role of the court system is to level the playing field so that considerations of economic status, political persuasion, race, gender or any other external factor play no part in the outcome of the litigation.  The role of the judiciary is to resist public pressure, not cave into it. In this way the public can reasonably rely upon the integrity of our judicial system to resolve disputes.  Judges must be both independent and impartial in order to safeguard our democratic system and maintain an orderly society.

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

When I took an oath to serve as Circuit Judge of Jefferson County, Criminal Division, in 2002, I swore to uphold the law and the Constitution.  I remember that solemn oath every single day that I take the bench to preside over criminal cases. If any judge allows his or her personal beliefs to influence his or her judicial decisions, it would be a clear violation of that oath. If personal beliefs influence the decisions that judges make, those decisions would be based upon passion, prejudice and bias.  The rule of law, which is the hallmark of our judicial system, would no longer exist.  The principle of justice, which is what our system is supposed to stand for and dispense, would evaporate.  Our criminal justice system is based upon the notion that justice is blind and that judges are fair and impartial.  A judge is only as good as his or her ability to adhere to those principles.  Obviously, all judges are human and all of us have opinions and personal beliefs.  However, our oath requires, our Constitution mandates and our public demands that judges follow the law and make rulings and decisions based upon it.  History itself has judged our greatest judges as those who rose above their personal beliefs and stood for fairness and impartiality.  I intend to continue to respect and follow the rule of law that I am sworn to uphold, respect and observe.

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The League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund does not endorse any political candidate or party. The information presented here is intended solely for the education of Alabama voters. Responses are printed verbatim as submitted by the candidates up to the 250-word limit.

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