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First African-American judge appointed to 19th judicial circuit

Published: Oct. 13, 2016 at 9:47 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2016 at 10:34 PM CDT
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WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - Attorney Bill Lewis' career ambition of sitting on the bench turned into a reality with one phone call from the governor's office.

"I really haven't gotten to a point that it's sunk in that I'm in this position," Lewis admitted. "I've been reflecting on what a tremendous opportunity it is."

It's a historic appointment as Lewis is the first African-American judge to serve in the 19th Circuit.

"Even though George Wallace came back and apologized for all his actions, he was the judge that appointed Judge [John] Bush," Lewis said. 
"It's a little bit of poetic irony that 30 years later that Judge Bush's replacement would be somebody that looked like me."

Lewis hopes his influence on the bench will be motivation to those who come through his courtroom.

"I'd like to think that we have come so far in this state that someone like me, that's qualified, can get a position based on his qualifications without any consideration for his race," Lewis said.

Lewis is no stranger to the 19th Circuit, trying cases as a prosecutor, defense attorney, and clerk for outgoing Judge Bush.

"God has put me in a position where everything has worked out and everything led me to this point," Lewis said.

The new judge's top priority is maintaining the scheduled dockets, and not increasing the case backlog during his transition.

He will be sworn in over the weekend and Monday will be Lewis' first official day on the job.

"Right now, I'm at the time in my law practice and in my life, I can embrace this and take this on," Lewis said.

Judge John Bush's retirement is effective this week, he served on the bench for 30 years.

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