Bud Turner was sworn in as Place 1 circuit judge and Chris McIntyre took his oath as Place 2 district judge.
Turner addressed the standing-room-only courtroom, which until Monday morning belonged to newly retired Judge Malcolm Street. Turner said after the election people asked him which judge’s place he was taking.
“Nobody’s,” Turner said in response. “You can’t take Judge Street’s place.”
Turner said he’s humbled and honored to sit in the same courtroom where Street presided for 36 years. The new circuit judge compared himself to a coach following in Bear Bryant’s footsteps.
“If I can fill half a footstep of Judge Street I’ll feel like I’ve done a yeoman’s work,” Turner said. “I’ll try not to do anything to mess up what he’s already put in place all these years.”
Fellow Circuit Judge Brenda Stedham said she’s known Turner throughout her career as a lawyer and judge. Stedham described Turner as “passionate” when he tried cases in her courtroom.
“He takes to heart (clients’) concerns and situations. I’m sure he’ll bring that passion to the job here,” Stedham said.
Stedham said Turner has a lot of experience and she’s looking forward to working with him.
Judge Street said even though he’s officially retired, he’ll still be around the courthouse to “address a couple matters.”
Street compared Turner’s position to baseball and said, “You’ve got to step up to the plate and take your swings.”
“That’s the only way to gain the experience and knowledge to do the job,” Street said. “He’ll do fine I’m sure.”
Turner will be ruling in civil and criminal cases.
Gene Howard, Calhoun County Republican Party chairman, said Chris McIntyre showed people how to get elected, by knocking on people’s doors and shaking their hands.
“He did it one vote at a time,” Howard said.
McIntyre will oversee misdemeanor criminal cases such as traffic tickets, bad checks and driving-under-the-influence charges.
McIntyre took his oath surrounded by colleagues, family and friends in Circuit Judge Brian Howell’s courtroom Monday afternoon.
McIntyre said he’s looking forward to his first day in court on Wednesday and said the day has felt like a long time coming since the election results were announced.
“Since March I knew I was going to be in this position, so it’s been a long wait. I’m excited to finally step in,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre, who worked as an assistant district attorney for nearly three years, said he’s well acquainted with everyone in the courthouse.
One of McIntyre’s main campaign promises was to send more inmates to rehabilitation programs, which he said he’ll look into now.
“The jail is way too overcrowded,” he said.
The judge said he’ll research several rehab programs, some of them private, to see how the facilities are run.
“Hopefully, they will meet my approval and I’ll be able to send those folks there and ease the crowding in that way,” McIntyre said.
Attorney Randy Moeller said he’s known McIntyre since 2005 and describes their working relationship as amicable. Moeller said there’s a large caseload in district court and in order to run it, a judge needs to be efficient and effective.
“I’m hopeful he’ll maintain the same pace and structure that our prior judges have done,” Moeller said.
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.