Conwill selected Circuit Court’s new presiding judge; Joiner leaves Feb. 25

Published 5:03 pm Friday, February 11, 2011

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Circuit Court Judge Hewitt “Sonny” Conwill was selected Feb. 11 as the court’s new presiding judge.

Conwill, 67, replaces outgoing Presiding Judge Michael Joiner, who was appointed Feb. 4 to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals by Gov. Robert Bentley.

Conwill, who has been a Circuit Court judge for five years, was selected as the new presiding judge by vote of the other Circuit Court judges, including Joiner.

“It’s flattering, but we all work together,” Conwill said of his selection. “It’s not a dictatorship. We all work together. We always have and certainly always will.”

Conwill will begin his presiding judge duties Feb. 14 and work with Joiner during a brief transitional period.

Joiner’s last day on the Circuit Court will be Feb. 25. He will start his new appointment in Montgomery Feb. 28.

When Joiner leaves, three circuit judges will remain: Conwill, Judge Hub Harrington and Judge Dan Reeves.

The search for a replacement likely will begin next week with the Shelby County Judicial Commission putting out letters of notice for the vacancy.

At that point, attorneys can nominate themselves, or be nominated by someone else. The commission will then narrow the field to three candidates and forward the list to Gov. Bentley.

Bentley, who appoints the new judge, likely will have the list of three finalists within 30 to 40 days, Conwill said.