Officials surprised by Cobb’s resignation

Published 4:57 pm Friday, July 1, 2011

In a move that came as a big surprise to many, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb announced Wednesday she would be stepping down from her judgeship as of August 1, 2011.

While there had been some speculation Cobb would not campaign for a second term, Butler County Circuit Clerk Allen Stephenson said the resignation was not expected.

Stephenson said the chief justice had done an “admirable job,” doing the best she could possibly do under the increasing budget constraints.

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“I have great respect for Chief Justice Cobb and value her friendship,” Stephenson said.

“I am certain she will be doing public service in some capacity as that has always been so important to her. She really is a public servant.”

Cobb cited family concerns as her reason for leaving office in the written statement she issued to court systems throughout the state.

“My mother is 87 and my daughter, Caitlin, is 15. Another statewide race . . . would require me to sacrifice precious time I could be spending with my family,” Cobb said.

“Beginning the first of August, I will be able to dedicate the bulk of my time to being a better wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, sister,  church member and friend.”

Alabama’s deputy director of the Administrative Office of Courts, Martin Ramsay, told Greenville Rotarians on Thursday he and fellow staff members were “shocked” by Cobb’s decision.

“This was something totally unexpected,” Ramsay said. “But I had a private conversation with the chief justice and she assured me this is no game but the truth. She is concerned about her family and taking care of some of these issues she has been dealing with.”

Cobb stated the decision to step down was made “infinitely more difficult” due to the inadequate funding for the judicial system in the state, saying she had “desperately wanted to depart leaving the system on better financial footing than when I came.”

Circuit Judge Terri Bozeman Lovell of the Second Judicial Circuit described Cobb as a true public servant, saying the chief justice had been a leader of the Alabama Judicial System for many years, particularly in the areas of juvenile justice and sentencing reform.

“She has sacrificed valuable time with her family and provided a valuable service to make Alabama better for all of us,” said Lovell.

“We will miss her greatly.”

Governor Robert Bentley will appoint a replacement for Cobb to finish out the 18 months left in her term.