Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Talking Turkey: Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two

James Irby, a Florence attorney in private practice, and Will Powell, an assistant Lauderdale district attorney, are both vying for the Republican nomination in the race for Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two. Both gentlemen are extremely qualified.

Who will win? Irby has obviously outspent Powell in political advertising, but until the beginning of this election season, didn’t have the name recognition that Powell has.

Will Powell:

Will Powell joined the Lauderdale County DA’s office in January 2005 as Chief Assistant District Attorney. He earned his law degree from The University of Alabama School of Law after receiving an undergraduate degree from Rhodes College.

Mr. Powell is an experienced trial attorney. He has successfully prosecuted multiple felony cases, including capital murder cases. He also chairs the Multidisciplinary Task Force focusing on cases involving children who are victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.

Prior to joining the Lauderdale County DA’s office, Mr. Powell worked as a Deputy District Attorney in the Montgomery County DA’s office, at which time he was honored as Prosecutor of the Year by VOCAL (Victims of Crime and Leniency). In addition to his duties as Chief Assistant DA, Mr. Powell is an adjunct Professor of Criminal Law at the University of North Alabama.

Mr. Powell is married to Emily Rhodes. The Powells have three children.

James Irby:

Born and raised in Lauderdale County, James Irby's roots in the local community run deep. After graduating from Henry A. Bradshaw High School in Florence, James Irby continued his education in Lauderdale County, receiving his Bachelors degree and two seperate Masters Degrees from the University of North Alabama. He then went to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and earned his Doctorate in Education before getting his Juris Doctorate from Thomas Goode Jones School of Law at Faulkner University in Montgomery.

Shortly after receiving his Bachelor's degree from UNA, James Irby went to work for Sheffield City Schools as their Band Director, working there for 11 years before going to work as an Assistant Principal in Decatur. James has served as the Principal of Guntersville High School, as well as Superintendent for the City School Boards of Roanoke and Athens.

After earning his Law Degree, James Irby went to work for Sherrill, Batts & Shipman in Athens, where he focused on special education law, prosecuting over 200 state-level special education due process hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act,protecting the rights of special education students to receive quality instruction.

James Irby then returned to his home of Lauderdale County and practiced education, personal injury, and criminal defense law at Potts & Young before opening up his own practice on Tennessee St in historic downtown Florence in late 2007. In addition to continuing his focus on personal injury and criminal defense law, he represents the Lauderdale County and Decatur City Boards of Education. James currently lives in Florence with his wife Margaret, who works with him at his law firm.

James Irby has been admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit United States Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Alabama, the Alabama Supreme Court, and all Circuit, District, and Municipal Courts of Alabama.

Does one have an edge over the other? We believe that one is in fact prepared to better serve in this judicial position. It’s a given that most who face criminal trials are indeed guilty. Judges primarily act as a type of referee between opposing council in making sure the letter of the law is followed. They also sentence those who have taken a plea deal—most of the accused in the legal system.

The salient point is that Will Powell obviously has the more experience in dealing with criminal matters. He’s always been there for victims’ families, as well as not participating in some of the theatrics we often see in other courtrooms (think Colbert County). We endorse Assistant District Attorney Will Powell in the race for Lauderdale Circuit Judge Place Two.


We were asked a question about William Smith and Ben Graves. Neither candidate holds an elected post. Mr. Smith was appointed to act as county license commissioner and Mr. Graves was hired to serve as municipal judge.


One year into DreamVision and no one thinks there will be any amusement park in the Shoals unless the state legislature comes to town. DreamVision promoter Bryan Robinson has now been accused of taking 500,000.00 from three local investors without purchasing the investment property he had proposed to buy with the funds.

So what did Robinson do with the money? We’re sure to see at least civil suits over this. There’s nothing like court records to reveal the actual money trail. We await.


Some Alabama legislators think supplemental nutrition funding recipients should be drug tested. Just how does that work in case of couples where one tests positive and the other negative? Does DHR make them live apart, never breaking bread together?

Perhaps some think disqualifying those who use recreational drugs from receiving any EBTs will more than offset the cost of drug testing (actual test kits and time expended by DHR workers in administering these tests). We have a better idea: Each time a legislator is arrested for impaired driving, or on any charge for that matter, he/she has to pay the state $10,000.00. That should help the budget out just a little.


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