Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tina Parker - A Woman of Vision

Billy Underwood, Democratic Party leader in Colbert County, has pronounced the election for District Court Judge to be the one to follow this year. Five candidates are vying to succeed Judge George Carpenter, not counting the unopposed Republican whom we have not as yet profiled.

We have previously received personal communications from Chad Coker, Tim Milam, and Tina Parker; our sources show Coker and Parker as the front runners. Our original showcase of Parker was in July of last year, and since that time the citizens have asked many insightful questions of all the candidates. Today we bring you an update from Tina Miller Parker:


I am a native of Colbert County, born in 1970 and raised in Muscle Shoals, where I still live today. My parents are Jerry Miller, originally from Florence, and Sue Russell Miller, originally from Tuscumbia. My maternal great grandparents were raised in Cherokee before they married and moved to Sheffield. I have one brother, Jeff, who is married to the former Stephanie Kimbrough from Leighton.

I am a licensed attorney practicing primarily in the areas of personal injury, family law, consumer bankruptcy, and workers’ compensation. I was raised in a blue collar family, and through them I learned the value of hard work. I have never been afraid of long hours, and I earned my law degree by attending classes at night while working full time during the day as a paralegal. I began practicing law in April 2002 for a large insurance defense firm before I began representing injured people in 2005. I have experience handling civil and criminal cases in both District Court and Circuit Court, and I would love to take that balanced experience with me to the District Court Judge’s office.

Between graduating from UNA in 1993 and starting law school, I earned a childhood development certification from Northwest-Shoals Community College, and I opened and directed Kid Safari Child Care in Muscle Shoals, where my staff of 13 and I cared for 85 children. I spend a large amount of my spare time giving back to the community by volunteering for local organizations, mainly those that support our community’s children. I serve as the President of C.A.S.A. (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Colbert County, where we pair trained volunteers with abused and neglected children and advocate for those children through the judicial system. I serve on the board of directors for the Shoals Optimist Club, another youth organization, and I have volunteered and raised funds for Safeplace, Habitat for Humanity, and P.A.W.S. (Pets are Worth Saving) of the Shoals.


There is no question that the new Colbert County District Court Judge will have big shoes to fill. Judge Carpenter has enjoyed five terms on the bench. I had the experience of winning one of my very first trials as a new lawyer in his court, and he was fair and respectful. Judge Carpenter is responsible for a very large docket of cases each year. In addition to hearing traffic cases and other misdemeanors, he also hears juvenile cases, evictions, and civil cases involving monetary damages up to $10,000 in value.

One of my goals for the District Judge’s office, should the voters in Colbert County allow me the privilege, is to organize the voluminous traffic court docket in such a manner that people do not have to take an entire morning or afternoon off work for a court appearance. One way this could be accomplished would be by dividing the docket alphabetically by last name into two or three groups, staggering the court date and time for each of these groups.

I would also like to separate the DUI docket from the other traffic docket and invite guest speakers whose lives have been permanently changed as a result of DUI-related crashes to address the DUI defendants. I have spoken to local people who have lost loved ones in DUI-related accidents who are eager to participate in this program. So many people, and young adults in particular, have the mind set that they are invincible. My hope is that, through this program, we can reduce the number of repeat DUI offenders in Colbert County.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to start a juvenile drug court in our county. We have a program for adult offenders, but we need a program for young people who are starting down a slippery slope of drug or alcohol abuse. A juvenile drug court would place nonviolent youthful offenders in a community corrections program, provide them with much-needed counseling, and require them to perform community service and undergo random drug testing and strict monitoring. If a juvenile fails to complete the program, he or she is still subject to being placed in a detention center. But if a juvenile successfully completes the program, we have one less delinquent breaking into cars or homes to steal for drug money, or driving under the influence and placing innocent folks in danger, and we have one more good, contributing member of society. We have a successful juvenile drug courts already in place in our state, and we could benefit from this program in our county.

A good judge is one who treats every man, woman, and child who comes before her or him with respect, whether they are rich or poor, black or white, young or old. When it comes to a judge, people deserve equal access to the system, a speedy trial and ruling, and fair, unbiased decisions that are based upon the law and the facts of each individual case. A good judge will have an open door to listen to the concerns of the citizens in the county. Judges are granted much discretion under the law, but a good judge will not abuse that discretion. A good judge will manage the courtroom and docket efficiently and will always be mindful of the fact that she or he is a servant of the citizens. I respectfully ask for your support and for your vote on June 1st.

Tomorrow: An endorsement