Judge, Court of Criminal Appeals,
Place No. 1
November 8, 2008
Julia N. Jones
Two daughters: Jakarra and Jasmine
- Knoxville College
JD - Cumberland School of Law
Judge - Criminal Division - 10th Judicial Circuit
State of Alabama
I have been a Circuit Judge
County, Criminal Division for the past six years. I have
as a Deputy District Attorney in the Tenth Judicial Circuit and an
Assistant District Attorney in the Fifth Judicial Circuit. I
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.,
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
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
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.
The Fred L. Shuttlesworth
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
Supreme Court to serve a three (3) year term on the Advisory
Committee on Alabama Criminal Procedure.
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Box 10005, Birmingham, AL 35202
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How have your
training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve
on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals?
served as a prosecutor, defense attorney and judge, I understand all
sides of criminal law related issues.
What do you consider to be the three most important
attributes of a judge?
Knowledge, integrity and
What is your judicial philosophy?
judges should follow the law as written and not legislate the law from
How do you define “judicial independence,” and how
important is it to our judicial system?
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.
What is the greatest area of need in the Alabama criminal justice
how should the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals respond, if at all?
ensure that the criminal laws of the State of Alabama and US
Constitution are applied equally and fairly to all citizens.
Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals should respond by applying the law
equally to all defendants, regardless of their station in life.
What part, if any, should public opinion play in the decision of a
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
tides. The function of a judge is to decide a case based upon
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
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
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
to safeguard our democratic system and maintain an orderly society.
In a case before the court, how should a judge handle a conflict
between his/her personal beliefs and the law?
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
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
adhere to those principles. Obviously, all judges are human
all of us have opinions and personal beliefs. However, our
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
intend to continue to respect and follow the rule of law that I am
sworn to uphold, respect and observe.
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