Judge Joiner says goodbye to county

Judge Michael Joiner, who served on the Circuit Court for 18 years, was honored Feb. 25, his last day on the job before starting his new position Feb. 28 on the state's Court of Criminal Appeals. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Former Shelby County Circuit Court Judge Michael Joiner was honored Feb. 25 with an hour-long reception in his old courtroom at the Shelby County Courthouse.

It was Joiner’s last day on the job after serving for 18 years.

Joiner begins serving the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals on Feb. 28 in Montgomery.

“I have tried in these 18 years to be a judge who rendered justice in a fair and impartial manner, and tried to treat the litigants in a way that I would want to be treated,” Joiner said.

At the end of the reception, at precisely 2:50 p.m., Joiner raised his right hand and placed his left on a Bible. He was then ceremonially sworn-in to the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals by Ret. Associate Justice Patti Smith.

Joiner will be formally sworn-in at a later date in Montgomery, he said.

With wife Cathy and daughter Christy by his side, Judge Michael Joiner (right) is ceremonially sworn-in to the state's Court of Criminal Appeals by Ret. Associate Justice Patti Smith. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

“Mike started out a very, very good person from very good parents, and he lived up to that,” said Judge Hewitt “Sonny” Conwill, who replaced Joiner as the Circuit Court’s presiding judge. “We’re all here to congratulate him on what he’s done and also for what he’s about to do.”

Shelby County Commission Chairman Corley Ellis presented Joiner with a resolution honoring him for his years of service to the county.

“I’m excited to be here on this occasion, though I’m not excited about losing you. We’re excited about the possibilities for you,” Ellis said. “We know you will do great things at the state level like you have here.”

Shelby County Commission Chairman Corley Ellis (right) presents Judge Michael Joiner with a resolution honoring him for his years of service to Shelby County. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

Shelby County Bar Association President Phil Hutcheson also presented Joiner with a resolution.

When the bar learned Joiner was leaving, it sent e-mails to lawyers throughout the county to collect money for a parting gift.

“You wouldn’t believe the contributions that came pouring in,” Hutcheson said.

The lawyers gave Joiner, who enjoys running and golfing, a $1,000 gift certificate to Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“I will accept this contingent upon the approval of the ethics commission,” Joiner said, adding that if not then he will refer the gift back to the Bar to donate to a charity of its choice.

Shelby County Bar Association President Phil Hutcheson (right) presents Judge Michael Joiner (left) with a resolution honoring him for his service. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

District Attorney Robby Owens spoke next and praised Joiner for his fairness.

“I always knew when I stood in front of him that I was going to lose what I was supposed to lose and I was going to win what I was suppose to win,” Owens said. “When the case got to a jury, it was going to be presented honestly and fairly and the verdicts that were reached were going to be verdicts that I could sleep with that night.”

“It always makes it sad when somebody like that is leaving,” Owens added. “I wish you well.”

District Attorney Robby Owens (right) shakes hands with Judge Michael Joiner after thanking him for his years of service. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick stepped forward to present Joiner with a parting gift.

“What can we give the judge from the D.A.’s office, if you will, that would be appropriate since he’s basically going to be in his new position reviewing our work?” Bostick said. “The giant, inflatable ‘affirmed’ stamp we thought might be a little inappropriate, so we found something else.”

Courtesy of the Shelby County Historical Society, Bostick then presented Joiner a plaque with one of only two existing pieces of marble slab used in 1954 to construct a new addition to the existing courthouse.

“If I can be so bold, I’d like to present this plaque to you, because in some ways it’s symbolic of you,” Bostick said. “On the outside, it’s smooth and polished, but on the inside it is firm and it is strong, and it is the foundation on which great things are built and have been built.”

Assistant District Attorney Bill Bostick (right) presents Judge Michael Joiner (left) with a plaque containing one of only two existing pieces of marble used in 1954 to construct a new addition to the current courthouse. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

Conwill presented Joiner a plaque on behalf of Shelby County judges.

“The praise and the kind words exceed anything that is deserved,” Joiner told those in attendance.

Members of Joiner’s family present included wife Cathy, daughter Christy, brother Dr. Wade Joiner and parents Hubert and Dorothy Christiane Joiner.

Judge Michael Joiner (center) pauses to pose for a photo with wife Cathy (left) and daughter Christy. (Reporter photo/BRAD GASKINS)

“I was raised in a way that I didn’t have to come to the bench to learn work ethic and a standard of integrity,” Judge Joiner said. “I learned that from an early age.”

Joiner chocked up as he began to speak of his parents’ influence in his life. He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts.

“There’s not a man in this world I respect more than my father,” Joiner said. “He has always earned that respect, and the same is true of my mother. I never doubted their full love and devotion and support.”