Court of Criminal Appeals,
AL Republican Primary Election
June 3, 2008
am blessed beyond measure by a loving and supportive family. I am
married to Dr. Amanda Mixon, who is an internal medicine physician
currently serving jointly at the University of Alabama at Birmingham
and the Birmingham VA Medical Center. We have the great joy of
expecting our first child this fall.
My extended family includes my mother and step-father, Ruth and Chuck
Ash, my father, James Mixon, and my grandmother, Marian Cranford, all
of Birmingham. My older sister and her husband, Kim and Michael
Spinello, live in Atlanta. My younger sister and her husband, Amy
and Bruce Cooper, live in Birmingham with their daughter, Emma
attended E.R. Dickson Elementary School and St. Paul's School in
Mobile. I attended high school in Birmingham, where I graduated
from Homewood High School in 1989. I am a 1993 gradute of Auburn
University, with a B.A. degree in history and psychology. While I
was at Auburn, I served on the University's Academic Honesty and
Grievance Committees, and I also served as the sole undergraduate
member of the steering committee overseeing the University's
application for re-accreditation by the Southern Association of
Colleges and Schools. I was also a member of the Auburn
University Marching Band.
After graduating from Auburn and working for a year in Birmingham, I
enrolled in law school at Emory University. I graduated from
Emory Law School in 1997. While at Emory, I served as President
of the Graduate Student Senate and Vice President for Graduate Affairs
of the Student Government Association.
am currently a partner in the Birmingham office of Ogletree, Deakins,
Nash, Smoak, and Stewart, which is a national law firm working with
employers who provide jobs throughout Alabama.
was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1997, and I was admitted to
the Alabama State Bar in 1998. I am also admitted to practice
before all of the state courts of Alabama; the Supreme Court of the
United States; the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh
Circuit; the United States District Courts for the Northern, Middle,
and Southern Districts of Alabama; the United States District Court for
the Northern District of Georgia; the Supreme Court of Georgia; and the
Georgia Court of Appeals.
I was still in law school, I served in externships at the Supreme Court
of Georgia and the Newton County Juvenile Court. In my final year
of law school, I served in an externship in the criminal prosecution
division of the United States Attorney’s Office, working with
prosecutors who handled both violent crimes and white collar
crimes. After graduating from law school, I worked as a Law Clerk
for Justice Hugh Maddox, of the Alabama Supreme Court. At the
conclusion of my one-year clerkship, Justice Maddox asked me to remain
on his staff as a Staff Attorney. When Justice Maddox's term on
the Supreme Court came to an end, Justice Harold See invited me to join
his staff as his Senior Staff Attorney. Since March 2003, I have
practiced law in the Birmingham office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash,
Smoak & Stewart. Ours is one of the three largest labor and
employment law firms in the country, and I became a partner in the firm
in January 2007.
I graduated from Auburn and before I enrolled at Emory Law School, I
worked for Employers Drug Program Management, Inc. EDPM works
with employers throughout the country to implement and manage drug and
alcohol testing services for those employers. I worked with
client companies to establish their respective drug and alcohol testing
policies and to facilitate all elements of implementing their testing
In late October 2001, Justice Harold See asked me to take on the
responsibility of managing his campaign for re-election to the Alabama
Supreme Court. After the successful conclusion of that election,
I joined my present law firm.
I was in school at Auburn, I was a National Merit Scholar and a
Presidential Scholar. I was also a member of the Mortar Board and
Upon graduation from Emory University School of Law, I was awarded the Dean's Award for Public Service.
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How have your
training, professional experience, and interests prepared you to serve
on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals?
prepared to serve on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals because I
have extensive personal experience working at the Alabama Supreme
Court, and in other courts, considering the arguments of the parties,
researching the law, and drafting proposed decisions. While I was
still in law school at Emory University, I served in externships at the
Supreme Court of Georgia, the Newton County Juvenile Court, and in the
criminal prosecution division of the United States Attorney’s
Office. When I graduated from Emory more than a decade ago, I
came home to Alabama to work at the Alabama Supreme Court. During
my years at the Supreme Court, I worked first as a Law Clerk and Staff
Attorney to Justice Hugh Maddox, and then as Senior Staff Attorney to
Justice Harold See. In each of those positions, I worked on all
types of criminal cases that were appealed to the Supreme Court.
I understand the role of an appellate court judge, and I will not
require any on-the-job training. In addition to my years of
service at the Supreme Court, I have also practiced law in the
Birmingham office of a national law firm, litigating cases on behalf of
both individuals and employers before state and federal trial courts,
the Alabama Supreme Court, and the United States Court of Appeals for
the Eleventh Circuit. I have a strongly held, conservative
judicial philosophy. I believe in working hard, and I have
tested, proven experience.
What do you consider to be the three most important
attributes of a judge?
believe it is essential that a judge be experienced, objective, and
strong. It is particularly important for a judge on an appellate
court to have the requisite experience to understand the proper role of
an appellate court judge. Appeals courts are places of research,
study, and thoughtful debate, where a judge must follow the law and not
attempt to re-write the law from the bench. A judge on an
appellate court must have the skills and ability to objectively
evaluate arguments presented by the parties on novel issues of law,
determine what the law requires, and articulate an explanation of the
law’s requirements that can be applied in trial courts throughout the
state. A judge must also have the strength of character and
conscience to apply the law faithfully and impartially, without regard
to outside pressure or interests.
What is your judicial philosophy?
have a conservative judicial philosophy, which was informed and
strengthened by my years of experience working at the Alabama Supreme
Court. I believe the role of a judge is to faithfully and
impartially apply the law to the facts of the case, without legislating
from the bench or attempting to re-write the law. I believe
Alabama’s appellate court judges should be experienced doing the work
of an appeals court and must respect the rights of victims in our
criminal justice system while ensuring due process of law to all
parties who come before the Court. Ultimately, they must ensure
that the rule of law prevails. The Alabama Constitution requires
that our state government be “a government of laws and not of men,” and
it is the duty of a judge to abide by that Constitutional requirement.
How do you define “judicial independence,” and how
important is it to our judicial system?
independence is an essential element of the separation-of-powers
doctrine upon which the framers of our Constitution relied to ensure
the continued liberty and prosperity of the people. Section 43 of
our state Constitution prohibits the executive and legislative branches
from attempting to usurp the judicial power, which is reserved
exclusively to the judicial branch. The same section of the
Constitution also prohibits the judiciary from attempting to usurp the
powers and prerogatives of the executive and legislative
branches. An impartial and independent judiciary is, therefore,
an integral part of the system of checks and balances that prevents any
branch of government from accumulating unfettered power. The
preservation of judicial independence helps to ensure that the reins of
power remain firmly in the hands of the people.
What is the greatest area of need in the Alabama criminal justice
how should the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals respond, if at all?
principal issue that is always before all of our courts is to ensure
that the rule of law prevails. The Court of Criminal Appeals must
uphold the rule of law and provide guidance on the law’s requirements
to the trial courts throughout the state. To that end, I will
faithfully and impartially perform the duties of a judge on the Alabama
Court of Criminal Appeals and will support the Constitution of the
United States and the Constitution of the State of Alabama.
What part, if any, should public opinion play in the decision of a
taking office, judges swear an oath to support the Constitution of the
State of Alabama and the Constitution of the United States. That
oath requires judges to follow the law faithfully and
impartially. Judges are obliged to apply the law as they
understand it to the facts of the case without regard to outside
influences. If a citizen believes that a particular law is
unwise, our Constitution guarantees him or her the right to petition
the Legislature to have that law changed.
In a case before the court, how should a judge handle a conflict
between his/her personal beliefs and the law?
oath of office that judges take requires them to follow the law
faithfully and impartially. If a judge’s conscience will not
allow him or her to follow the law in a particular case, he or she
should recuse himself or herself from involvement in that case.
League of Women Voters of Alabama Education Fund does not endorse any
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