New Chief Justice Wants Non-Partisan Elections

Sue Bell Cobb was elected Alabama's first female chief justice after what was likely the second most expensive judicial race in American history. She says she's determined to change more about Alabama's courts than the gender of the top judge.

Cobb told The Associated Press in an interview she hopes to use her six-year term to institute nonpartisan elections for judges in Alabama. She says it wouldn't fix all the problems by any stretch, but it would at least take the issue of party out of it.

Cobb polled 51.5% of the vote against Republican incumbent Drayton Nabers in the November Seventh general election.

When she takes office on January 16th, it won't be the first time she has helped women break new ground. When she became a district judge in Evergreen in November of 1981, Cobb was the 11th woman to be a trial court judge in Alabama.

In 1994, she became the first woman elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, although one woman had served earlier through appointment.

Two years after her election, two more women were elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and Alabama became one of only two states in the nation where women held a majority of the seats on an intermediate appellate court.

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