Anniston attorney Peggy Miller-Lacher ran on her experience working in family courts, and voters seemed to have listened to her message.
Miller-Lacher unseated incumbent Circuit Judge Brenda Stedham for the 7th Circuit, Place 4 judge’s seat in the Republican primary election Tuesday night.
“I’m on Cloud 9,” Miller-Lacher said when reached by phone late Tuesday. “I’m so proud of everyone who worked for me, who supported me. I’m so happy with the outcome.”
No Democratic or independent candidate qualified to run, meaning Miller-Lacher is expected to win the November general election.
The 7th Circuit Court serves Calhoun and Cleburne counties. The family court judge presides over cases involving divorce, child support, juvenile delinquency and adult abuse and neglect.
Miller-Lacher, 46, has 18 years of experience as a family court attorney. She also worked as a family court secretary while in law school, she said.
Miller-Lacher has owned her own law firm since 2007. She graduated from Jacksonville State University with a bachelor’s degree in management in 1990, and earned her law degree from the Birmingham School of Law in 1995.
Her desire to work in family court has roots that go back to Miller-Lacher’s high school days, she said, when she worked part-time for a local divorce attorney.
Stedham, 60, has held the position since 2009, after she was appointed the Republican nominee for the judgeship by state party leaders in 2008. The winner of the primary in that race, Ray Bryan, was disqualified as a candidate, and because no Democrat or independent candidate qualified to run, she won the seat without an opponent on the ballot.
Stedham in March started a local veterans’ treatment court which provides alternative sentencing for veterans, many of whom return from combat with mental health disorders and substance abuse issues.
Miller-Lacher said she has plans for that veterans program.
“I hope to grow and expand it. I want to make it available for more veterans. There’s only two people in it right now,” she said.
Asked what plans she has for the court if she is elected in November, Miller-Lacher said she plans to give “everyone their trial. I plan to rule in a timely fashion, and I plan to rule according to the law.”
She also would like to make some changes in existing programs, Miller-Lacher said.
“The juvenile drug court program — I’d like to see it re-established to the same level of success it had under Judge [Laura Brown] Phillips in 2011,” she said.
Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Stedham thanked all the voters who came out in support of her, and all supporters who worked on her behalf during the campaign.
“I’m thankful to all of my supporters who worked long and hard, and did a tremendous job,” Stedham said. “This experience has reminded me of how blessed my family and I are.”
Stedham also wished Miller-Lacher the best of luck.
“It’s been my privilege to serve the people of Cleburne and Calhoun counties,” Stedham said, “and I will continue to serve them as I complete my term."
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.