What's At Stake

People who’ve had no direct experience with the justice system sometimes wonder why they should care who sits on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Unlike the Alabama Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals hears all appeals from criminal convictions in Alabama, from minor crimes up to capital murder. The Court has a responsibility to make sure that Alabama convictions are based on enough evidence, that they are based on fair trials, and, when they are, that sentences are carried out. Because of this, the Court plays a key role in making sure that our justice system works. Law-abiding Alabamians need to be confident that the courts will deliver just convictions and sentences. And criminals should be confident that Alabama law enforcement will catch them, that they’ll be convicted, and that their sentences will be upheld. When we have a justice system that we can be confident in, we’ll all be safer.

It’s also important that the opinions the Court issues be well written, legally sound, and factually accurate. While the Court may be the last Alabama court that reviews nearly every conviction, it’s not the last court to get a say on Alabama convictions. The Federal Courts also review Alabama decisions and have the power to override the decisions made by Alabama judges. As an appellate prosecutor, I’ve spent years defending Alabama convictions in front of the Federal District Courts in Alabama, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court. An opinion that’s not strongly reasoned and written can result in an Alabama conviction getting reversed years later. 

This year's election is critical, because with three of the five seats on the Court of Criminal Appeals up for election, there's a substantial chance that a majority of the Court will be newly elected. In those circumstances, Alabama needs a candidate with the experience to be an effective appellate judge from day one. Rich Anderson is the candidate with the necessary criminal law and appellate experience. He'll work hard every day to make Alabama's justice system stronger.

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