Lara Alvis sworn in as circuit judge

New Shelby County Circuit Judge Lara Alvis, center, surrounded by family members, takes her oath of office, which was administered by former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith, right. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

New Shelby County Circuit Judge Lara Alvis, center, surrounded by family members, takes her oath of office, which was administered by former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith, right. (Reporter Photo/Keith McCoy)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

COLUMBIANA – Shelby County’s newest circuit judge said she plans to remain “fair, honest and just” in her service to the county as she took the oath of office during a June 9 ceremony at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana.

Alvis, who began serving in the circuit judge role on May 1 after she was appointed by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Dan Reeves, received plenty of support from dozens of friends, family and loved ones, who packed the courtroom and hallway during the ceremony.

“I had a lot of spiritual growth during this campaign. It was a spiritual decision for me to run,” Alvis said, as she thanked the county’s current judges for their guidance and support since she took the bench. “It’s a very fulfilling, but a very difficult job. I will do all I can do to be fair, honest and just.”

Alvis defeated fellow judge candidate Patrick Kennedy during an April 12 runoff election for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court judge seat. Because Reeves retired on March 1, Bentley appointed Alvis to take the judge seat on May 1. Her term will expire in 2021.

“To my family, I want to thank you so much for everything. You have been so incredibly supportive of me,” Alvis said. “I would not be standing here today if it were not for (my husband) Barry. I appreciate what you’ve done for me and for our family, and I love you.”

During the June 9 investiture ceremony, several of Alvis’ supporters spoke highly of her.

“Lara is moving into a role that God has prepared her for. God has prepared her for her whole life, and she didn’t even know it,” Circuit Court Judge Bill Bostick said. “What makes a person a great judge is the hardships they’ve faced in life. Lara has had her share of hardships, and she has persevered.

“That has taught you empathy, and it’s also prepared you to know that no matter how desperate the situation, there is always a way up,” Bostick said.

Before former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith swore Alvis in, Daisy Girl Scout Troop 983 presented Alvis with a gavel set honoring the occasion.

Pelham High School teacher Connie Nolen, who taught Alvis in high school, said a hard work ethic and enthusiasm to serve others is nothing new for Alvis.

“We draw people to us when we let them see that we do what we do because we love them,” Nolen said. “Lara has certainly done that, and I know she will do well.”