Alabama State Bar wants to change how some judges are elected

As candidates begin to announce for the state Supreme Court elections next year, the Alabama State Bar is trying to do away with partisan elections for Alabama's three appellate courts.

The lawyers' group is pushing for an appointed system that it says will end the practice of judges having to raise millions of dollars from special interest groups and will restore public confidence in the fairness of the judiciary.

Republicans hold every seat on the Alabama Supreme Court and Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and all but one seat on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. With that 18-to-1 margin, the state Republican Party is determined to kill the Bar Association's proposal when the Legislature considers it in January.

Alabama is one of seven states that use totally partisan elections to select the judges for their top courts. Two other states pick their nominees in partisan primaries or party conventions, but use nonpartisan general elections.

A spokesman for Justice at Stake, said switching from partisan elections to judicial selection is difficult politically. No state has done it since Utah in 1984.