Parker could challenge Nabors in primary

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 29, 2005

MONTGOMERY &8212; Rumors persist that Associate Justice Tom Parker may challenge Supreme Court Chief Justice Drayton Nabers in the upcoming Republican primary.

Parker is the lone outspoken supporter of ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore now serving on the high court. In fact, of the five judicial candidates Moore endorsed in 2004, Parker was the lone winner.

Justice Parker has a built-in advantage should he make this race. It would be something close to a win-win situation. If he runs and loses, he does not lose his seat on the court.

Be sure the possibility of an incumbent associate justice challenging an incumbent chief justice has raised the obvious question: Has anything like this ever happened before?

It has indeed … ironically almost exactly a century ago. In 1906, Associate Justice John R. Tyson challenged Chief Justice Samuel L. Weakley in the Democratic primary, which in those days was held in August.

It was a spirited campaign between Tyson of Lowndes County and Weakley of Morgan County, with Tyson prevailing by the narrowest of margins … 45,363 votes to 41,714 votes.

Three years later Chief Justice Tyson resigned and Gov. B.B. Comer offered the job to Weakley but he declined it. A sidebar to this story:

During his early years Weakley was a law partner of a young attorney named Hugo Black.

While on this subject, there was another long-predicted development in this same race last week.

Criminal Appeals Court Judge Sue Bell Cobb announced that she would seek the office of chief justice as a Democrat.

Judge Cobb, a native of Evergreen, has been a judge almost as long as she has been a voter. She was appointed as a district judge in 1982, only a year out of law school, and later, was elected to the state court in 1994.

Cobb is taking a far greater risk in making this race than Parker, should he run as her present term on the Criminals Appeal Court expires in 2007. If she loses, she is off the bench.

Former Gov. Don Siegelman had his first day in court last week following his indictment for alleged wrongdoing during his administration, and it was not a good day for him.

While nothing official was said, it may be that Siegelman will not stand trial until late March or early April. The trial itself could last several weeks.

This means the case against him may not be finally adjudicated until only four-to-six weeks before the June 1 gubernatorial primary. If so, most of his campaigning will be done under that cloud.

The Speedy Trial Act calls for trials to start within 70 days of an initial court appearance, but that deadline could be pushed back farther due to delays caused by pre-trial motions. Siegelman remained upbeat about the allegations, as he has been from the beginning.

&8220;I’m not the slightest bit worried about the outcome,&8221; he said. &8220;I think the people of Alabama see through this.&8221;

Former State Auditor Susan Parker has announced her candidacy for the seat on the Public Service Commission being vacated by George Wallace Jr., who plans to run for lieutenant governor.

Parker waged a spirited race for the U. S. Senate four years ago, winning the Democratic nomination but losing in the General Election to U. S. Sen. Jeff Sessions. She was the first woman ever to win a major party nomination for that office.

One candidate has already announced for the PSC seat as a Democrat … Debbie Murphy of Prattville. The only announced GOP candidate for the PSC seat is former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. of Montgomery.

Jere Beasley, the super successful plaintiff lawyer, is about to enter what could well be called a &8220;heavyweight championship&8221; court fight and he will be fighting with only one arm…he broke his left arm a few weeks ago.

Beasley, the former lieutenant governor, is the lead attorney in a suit filed against Merck and Co. which charges that the painkiller Vioxx caused the death of a Florida man.

Opposing Beasley in this huge case is Phil Beck, who some may remember was President Bush’s lead attorney in the disputed election in Florida in 2000.

&8220;It’s David versus Goliath, but that doesn’t bother me,&8221; Beasley said in an interview last week. &8220;I have been an underdog all my life.&8221;