Chief Justice Cobb to leave office

Published 4:38 pm Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb squelched two rumors Wednesday — she will not seek re-election to the office nor will she hold the office after August.

Cobb announced her decision to resign from her position in an effort to spend more time with her family. In making the announcement Cobb ended speculation about her political future.

“For many months there has been speculation about whether or not I would seek re-election for a second term as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court,” Cobb said. “For a variety of reasons, I have decided that not only to announce that I will not seek another term but also that I will be stepping down as Chief Justice.”

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Cobb said the decision was a difficult one for her, in part because of the financial status of the system.

“This decision has been infinitely more difficult because of the inadequate funding budgeted by the Legislature for our judicial system,” Cobb said. “I desperately wanted to depart leaving the system on better financial footing than when I came.”

Personal reasons Cobb noted as having some bearing on her decision included her family.

“My mother is 87 and my daughter, Caitlin, is 15,” Cobb said. “Another statewide race at this point would require me to sacrifice precious time which I could be spending with my family. I am now entering a new phase of my life. Beginning the first day of August, I will be able to dedicate the bulk of my time to being a better wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, church member and friend.”

Alyce Spruell, president of the Alabama State Bar, said Cobb’s announcement to leave the office is one she is “sorry” to hear.

“We are sorry to see Justice Cobb leave her position but wish her well,” Spruell said. “During her term she has always been sensitive to the concerns of the practicing bar. I know from personal experience, having worked side by side with her during my term as president of the state bar on issues affecting the profession and courts, that she approached every task with tireless dedication.”

Spruell said Cobb served as a leader in many ways including the justice system and women who are a part of that system.

“Justice Cobb led Alabama’s courts to institute innovate and progress reforms that have increased the public’s confidence in our legal system and ensured that equal treatment under the law is provided for all,” Spruell said. “Besides knocking down the last major hurdle for women in the judiciary, Chef Justice Cobb left a record of successes in her stewardship of the Supreme Court and in her role as chief executive officer of the state Court system.”

Cobb said she also hoped that Governor Robert Bentley would give ample consideration when choosing the next person for the job.

“I urge Governor Bentley to appoint someone who is an experienced trial judge, someone who understands that the most important aspects in people’s lives are impacted by the curt system: their children, homes, jobs, reputations, freedom, or whether the, in fact will live or die,” Cobb said. “I pray that my replacement will dedicate his or her time and energy to improving the access and quality of the justice system and most importantly, will be someone who cars about doing what is right rather than doing what is politically expedient, someone who cares more about the next generation than the next election.”

Cobb has served in her position as Chief Justice since 2007 having begun her career in Alabama’s Supreme Court in 1997 when she was appointed to serve as the Judge of the Court of the Judiciary. A former resident of Evergreen, Cobb lives in Montgomery with her family.