Debra Jones, 53, has been practicing law for 28 years and is currently a circuit judge in Calhoun County. She is running as a Republican for Place 1 on the state Supreme Court. Her opponents in the June 5 primary are Brad Mendheim and Sarah Stewart. No Democrats are running.
Jones and her husband, Buddy, have been married 26 years and have five children.
She sat down today with The Daily Home Editorial Board. Here’s five takeaways from that conversation.
- Many lawyers all over the state have decades of experience, but are not putting their hat in the ring. How did you know it was time to run for the Supreme Court? There’s an open seat; Justice (Glenn) Murdock resigned. I’m in my second term (as circuit court), and if I lose, I can retain my seat, so timing is a factor. And I just want to serve.
- The state constitution is the largest in the country and is extremely unwieldy. What’s the best approach to fixing it? It’s highly political. You need a committee of people like law professors, judges and lawmakers, and then go through it section-by-section. But unless there’s some crisis, no one’s going to tackle it.
- Why should people care about who sits on the state Supreme Court? Because everything ends up in the Supreme Court. Whether is a controversy or a law that’s been fought for a long time, it’s going to end up in the Supreme Court, and that’s going to be the final say.
- When you ran in 2012, you refused to take campaign contributions from PACs (Political Action Committees). Will that be your approach this time? Back then, it was legal to hide those contributions. Now the law makes it more transparent. I’ll accept it, but I would not promise them anything. I’m my largest contributor.
- What do you think of judges having to declare a party affiliation? The opinions of the Supreme Court can shape the culture of our society. When you elect someone who’s going to have that kind of impact, you need to know that they share your views. You can’t ask a judge where they stand on every issue and we’re not supposed to state our views on issues, so declaring party affiliation helps voters know where you stand.