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Birmingham Bar Association Spring 2014

1994-2013, I had my own firm called Blankenship and Company where I did general civil litigation, land use law and planning and zoning. Approximately 45 percent of my practice was litigation and the rest was focused on property law. Role models? Justice Ralph Cook, Doug Coretti, Judge U. W. Clemon, Mason Davis, Judge Houston Brown. Admirable qualities in judges? Temperament. We’ve had some great ones, like Dan Rogers. He could keep things settled down no matter what was happening in the courtroom. Another good one is Tom King. He’s like a referee in a boxing match, you never knew he was there unless there was a problem. Biggest frustrations of practicing law: Dealing with unruly clients. Most rewarding about the practice: Getting the job done for clients. It thrilled me when the client was satisfied with my work. As a Judge Your judicial style? I have a fair, even-tempered, real-world style. I never forget that I practiced law and things don’t always go as planned. And you can come from anywhere in Alabama and you will not get ‘home cooked’. It’s happened to me more than once and I won’t do it to another lawyer. Formal or Informal? Informally formal. I like courtroom decorum but not to the extent that it makes the courtroom stiff. Most formalities take place during jury trials. Chambers v. Courtroom? Everything is done on the bench. Scheduling/Status conferences: If you live more than 50 miles away or you have a conflict, you can do any type of conference that doesn’t involve argument by phone. Docket call or special setting? Docket call. It starts every morning at 8:15 and all are set at the same time. The status and scheduling conferences go first. If it’s going to be a longer morning, then there will be a 9:00 setting and we give 30 or more minutes for each motion. Standard office protocol: My office will always call lawyers the day before to remind them of their hearing. Briefing preferences: I don’t have any. It doesn’t have to be blue book perfect but it does need to be done. Oral Argument? I value oral argument. I will ask a lot of questions. I prefer highlights versus full recitation of the brief. Give me your side of the story. Also, call ahead and get a hearing date before filing the motion. Time restrictions? No limits on anything. Sit or Stand? Always stand in the courtroom. Technology? ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. Any demonstrative presentation is always helpful during oral argument. It’s also great in front of juries. However, if you want technology in the courthouse then you have to bring it because there is no money in the county to have state-of-the- art courtrooms. Jury trials: I’ve had three jury trials since being sworn into office. Everything seems to settle. There is always a pretrial conference the Friday before the trial date and many cases settle at that time. As for jurors, I encourage note taking. I always warn jurors that it’s for them only and it’s not a definitive source. I do not allow the use of exhibits during voir dire or opening statements. Striking a Jury? Two panels of 12 plus six. Each side will get 6 strikes from the first 24 and then 3/2 to make the alternate. Discovery disputes? I like for lawyers to bring it to me so we can resolve it. Fastest way to get on your bad side? Disrespect to the court and other lawyers; Talking over me and other lawyers. Advice to young lawyers appearing in your courtroom for the first time? Be respectful of the Court and other lawyers. As a Person Family: Married with two adult children. Proudest achievement? Obtaining this office. Personal role models: My biggest role model is my father, Eddie Blankenship. He was the president of the Birmingham City Council for two terms and he served on the council for four terms. He was a retired federal employee from the Department of Commerce. He was also a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Free time? Watching political pundits and basketball. Something interesting about yourself: On command, I can tell you the name and numeric order of any president of the United States and vice versa. I also know obscure facts about each of them. Work forever or retire? I won’t work forever. I will likely retire after a second term. G Birmingham Bar Bulletin/ Spring 2014 29


Birmingham Bar Association Spring 2014
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