Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb will step down in August. According to Cobb, she wanted to spend more time with her family and friends.
Cobb announced her decision at the state judicial building in Montgomery Wednesday morning.
“Although I am reluctant to leave for many reasons, I am now entering a new phase of my life, Cobb said. “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.”
Cobb’s departure from the bench will leave the court without a sitting Democrat. Further, the state will have only one Democrat serving in statewide office, Public Service Commissioner Lucy Baxley. Gov. Robert Bentley has not chosen a replacement appointment to complete Cobb’s term, WBRC reported this morning.
Cobb was elected to the court in 2006 after defeating Gov. Bob Riley’s appointent to the bench, Drayton Nabers. Her signature campaign ad, which featured her singing “This Little Light of Mine” and playing piano in her church, resonated with Alabama voters.
While serving as executive of the Alabama court system, Cobb has worked with Republican lawmakers to advocate sentencing reform and reduced prison overcrowding. Currently the Alabama prison system is at double its capacity and at risk of federal take over, Cobb and the lawmakers warned. However, those reforms were rejected by the Legislature during the 2011 regular session. Cobb also advocated reforming the state’s judicial selection process.
“Although I look at numerous accomplishments which have been achieved during the last four and one-half years, one of my keenest disappointments has been my inability to convince the members of the Legislature to improve the method in which judges are selected in our state,” Cobb said.
A press release from Cobb Wednesday morning included a state-by-state comparison of campaign cash spent on judicial races. Alabama far out-paces the rest of the country in campaign funds spent on court elections. Cobb said the time necessary raising campaign funds factored into her decision not to pursue another term.
Before serving as Chief Justice, Cobb served two terms on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.