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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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Lucie McLemore
Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 1
AL Republican Primary Election
June 3, 2008

This is a candidate in the

Republican Primary Runoff,
July 15, 2008

Biographical Information
Place of Residence: Montgomery, Alabama
Family: Parents:  Rena Pope Underwood and the late Kenneth W. Underwood, Jr. of Montgomery. Two daughters and a son: Grace Jeter is an Assistant District Attorney for Covington County, Alabama; Lucie Amberg resides with her husband in California; Larry McLemore teaches history in the high school at St. James School, Montgomery.
Education: Montgomery Public Schools
B.A., English, Huntingdon College
J.D., Jones School of Law
Occupation: Attorney at Law
Employer: Currently self-employed in solo law practice
Bar Admission(s) &
Date(s) of Admission:
Alabama State Bar, September 1985
Legal & Judicial
Currently in private practice of law in Montgomery. Elected Montgomery County District Judge in 2000. Served from January 2001 – January 2007. Previous to being elected district judge, practiced law in Montgomery with her father for 15 years.
Other Experience: Current volunteer and civic work includes: Board Member, Huntingdon College Alumni Association, and Montgomery Ballet Board Secretary; memberships in Daughters of the Colonists and Colonial Dames.
Honors & Awards: One of 100 women in 2003 selected to participate in the Women's Campaign School at Yale University.
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Campaign Contact Information
Address 1: 472 S. Lawrence Street, Suite 207
Address 2: Post Office Box 263
City: Montgomery
State: Alabama
Zip Code: 36101
Voice Phone Number: 334/240-0490
Fax Phone Number: 334/240-3116
Website: LucieMcLemore.org
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?

I was elected Montgomery County District Judge in 2000 and served from January 2001 to January 2007.  My case management abilities as a judge have been commended by the Alabama Chief Justice. The jurisdiction of the district courts in Alabama is both civil and criminal: I presided over 23,000 criminal cases and 50,000 total cases. Entering the Montgomery County District Court judgeship, I found the criminal caseload seriously backlogged. I began holding criminal court two days per week and was able to clear the backlog in less than a year. My civil and criminal dockets remained current through the end of my term.

Upon assuming the district judgeship, I found that large numbers of court-ordered restitution, costs, and fines had remained uncollected for years. I established a collection docket and, in six years, I collected $1.52 million.

Prior to being elected to Montgomery County District Court, I practiced law in Montgomery from 1986-2000 under the firm name Underwood and McLemore, as its managing partner. Previously I had been employed in the Legal Division of the Alabama Department of Finance and as a law clerk in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, 15th Alabama Circuit. Currently I am engaged in the private practice of law in Montgomery.

My record speaks for itself: a good judicial officer is part judge and part administrator. All of my professional experiences have given me sound administrative and managerial training, and a broad knowledge of the law.

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

Appellate judges should have (1) a broad knowledge of the law that has been seasoned and refined by significant experience as a litigator, a judge, or both; (2) the ability to remain impartial and not allow personal beliefs or biases to interfere with the administration of justice; and (3) demonstrated success as an administrator, so that cases can be concluded in a timely manner.

3.  What is your judicial philosophy?

I believe in the vision of government codified in the United States Constitution. The framers of the Constitution and those who created our state constitution created a system with built-in checks and balances. The legislative and judicial branches were designed for separate functions. The legislative branch should create laws; and judges and justices should interpret and apply the law when presented as individual cases with individual facts and circumstances. 

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

The framers of the United States Constitution established the principle of judicial independence by creating three separate branches of government: The legislative branch having the responsibility to create laws, the executive branch having the responsibility to enforce the laws, and the judicial branch being responsible for interpreting laws that have been enacted by a legislative body. Having clear lines of responsibility was a considerable improvement over the British system as observed in the colonies before American independence. Under that system, the monarch appointed judges. At that time, members of Parliament were the only branch of government truly independent from the Crown.

The independence of judges, whether elected or appointed, is essential to the effective administration of justice.

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?

Law-abiding citizens need to have confidence that our courts are rendering effective decisions for the safety of our society. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, on the whole, has been doing a good job of keeping current and up-to-date in rendering decisions. There is one thing I would want to look into soon after becoming a member of this five-judge court. Prominent lawyers, including the president-elect of the Alabama State Bar, have suggested appellate courts need to increase the number of cases heard on oral argument. Public awareness of the processes of decision-making would go a long way toward increasing the confidence of the public. Having frequent oral argument sessions and making the sessions available in various locations throughout the state would encourage community interest in the Court of Criminal Appeals. 

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

None. It is not the duty of a judge to change the law or make new law. That is the function of the legislative branch of government. A judge's duty is to interpret the law and apply the law to the fact situation being adjudicated.

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

Alabama judges must take an oath to uphold the laws of the United States and the laws of the state of Alabama. Personal beliefs should not enter into a decision in a court case. Any judge who cannot put on legal blinders and remain completely impartial should not serve. Life experiences can render a judge unable to remain unbiased in certain types of cases or controversies. There is no room for biases that might affect the outcome of a case in which a judge might serve.

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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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