10 months ago

Yellowhammer’s Exclusive Interview with Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall

Good afternoon Mr. Attorney General. I’d like to start by asking when you first become interested in the law and what sparked that interest? It wasn’t until I was in college. Earlier in life, I’d hoped to become a professional golfer. However, I was the first person in my family to attend college and, once there, I realized my interest in research, writing, and communicating ideas could allow me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. For those skills, a legal education fit the bill and that’s what prompted me to go to law school.

Who’s had the biggest influence on your career? The person who had the greatest influence on my legal career was a man named Bo Torbert. He was Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and I was fortunate to work with him for about two and a half years. He was a remarkable person who invested in me, not so much by teaching me technical aspects of the law, but by teaching me the duties and responsibilities of being a lawyer. He continually instilled in me an ethical code that’s guided my career and that means something. He was a great teacher and a great man, and he cared about me not just professionally, but personally. He’s someone for whom I will be forever grateful.

When did you decide you wanted to become a criminal prosecutor? Before becoming a prosecutor, I was appointed to defend a man shot another man over a game of checkers. The defendant went to his truck, pulled out a .22 rifle and shot a man in the back from 20 yards away. It was horrendous. As a young lawyer, I was appointed to represent him. We tried the case and the jury found him not guilty. I performed the role I was bound by law to execute, but when that case was over, I didn’t feel good about how my skills had been used. At that moment, I made a commitment that for the rest of my career, I’d prosecute criminals, so when I was offered the opportunity to become a district attorney in Marshall County, it was part of a natural progression from previous prosecutorial roles.

What’s the most rewarding case you’ve prosecuted? The case that had the most profound impact on me involved a young girl who’d been sexually abused. When I first met her, she’d barely look anyone in the eye or speak a word. Two years later we were trying her case and I had to ask her to go in front of 12 strangers on that jury and share the horrible and intensely private accounts of her abuse. The jury found the perpetrator guilty. After the trial, I went to check on her and she thanked me. I said ‘you don’t have to thank me for the jury finding him guilty, I was just doing my job.’ She said, ‘No sir, I’m thanking you for believing my story and for believing in me.’ After gathering myself emotionally, there was a profound recognition that we were able to restore a sense of belief in this innocent young girl—a belief in herself and faith in others that this predator had torn from her. That made me realize that, as prosecutors, we have the ability to not only convict criminals but to truly help change the lives of the victims and their families. What I was so poignantly reminded of that day is that justice isn’t just punitive, it’s also restorative. The word “redemption” means to buy back and in this case, I believe that trial literally bought this girl’s earthly life back. So in that sense, it was truly redemptive. That’s what drives not only me, but prosecutors around the state to seek justice on behalf of the people. That one story perfectly captures why I go to work every day and fight the fight.

What’s most personally exciting to you about this position? First, I’m passionate about law enforcement and victims’ rights, so it gives me a platform to advocate for those things on a broader scale. Leaving the job as Marshall County’s District Attorney was the single hardest decision I’ve ever made because it was a great job and an amazing community, and there’s no doubt this is the only job I would’ve left it for. Whether I’m here for 18 months or 10 years, my responsibility is to serve the people of this state ethically and responsibly. That’s the mission every day coming to work, just as it was back home. So my hope is that people all across Alabama will get to know the same man the people in Marshall County knew as their prosecutor who executed those duties to the best of his ability every day.

What are Alabama’s most pressing needs with respect to curbing crime?  There are many, but a few come immediately to mind:

  • • First is the heroin/opioid addiction problem. It came to Alabama a little more slowly than to other states, but it’s here now and we must not only view this as a law enforcement challenge but a public health problem. As our understanding grows, we need to be engaged in policy discussions and in creating tools for law enforcement. That said, it’s not merely a badges and guns solution. It will have to be a comprehensive effort by the broader community. The good news is there are positive steps being taken in Alabama now to determine real, tangible ways we can make a difference in curbing this problem.
  • • Human trafficking is another emerging issue in this state. Like the opioid fight, it’s two-pronged. First, we must raise awareness, which we’re doing with our state task force on human trafficking—End It Alabama. The other side is law enforcement. In the three months, I’ve been in this job, I’ve spent more time on this issue than any other because we must identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable. Just like domestic violence, this is a crime in which some are skeptical of our ability to make a difference. Victims, however, need to understand that we’re here to support them by prosecuting cases and by affirming the fact that they’re truly victims of horrendous crimes and that we are totally committed to bringing swift justice to those who exploit them.
  • • Technology crimes are also growing at a tremendous rate. We’ve had three significant cases that this office has been involved with and we’re helping share technology with law enforcement so they can better work these cases. Like with the other issues, public awareness is key so we can help individuals and institutions more quickly identify how they can become a victim of these increasingly sophisticated crimes. That’s something you’ll hear us talk about more and more.
  • • Another issue that continues to be a priority is public corruption. This office plays a vital role in supporting local law enforcement and prosecutors, as we have expertise and specialists in this area that allow us to serve that role effectively across the state.
  • • Finally, I’d just say that one passion of mine is advancing best practices cases across Alabama regarding how law enforcement works in communities. For example, the Alabama Safe Schools Initiative is important because we can point to communities like Orange Beach who do this very well and share the reasons they’re being successful with other communities statewide.

What’s surprised you most about the job since you’ve taken it? I clearly come from a public safety background where we put bad guys in jail. In this job, however, I recently spent a day and a half with AG’s from across the nation discussing the intersection of public health and crimes. Also, my first act as Alabama’s Attorney General was suing the state of California over regulatory issues involving Alabama’s egg producers. There are also issues with Attorney Generals across the nation standing together to support the 10th amendment (states’ rights). So while those sort of things are probably not what I would’ve envisioned being part of this job, I’ve been fascinated and greatly energized by them, recognizing that they’re part of serving our citizens well.

In closing, tell me about your family: My wife and I have a daughter who’s 20, who’s a rising junior in college here in the state of Alabama. My wife and my daughter are my support system and I’m excited for my wife to be here in Montgomery with me soon.

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Attorney General’s initiatives, visit his website at ago.state.al.us


array(1) {

1 hour ago

The Hollywood Conservative shares her views on the celebrities moving because of Trump

The Hollywood Conservative, Amanda Head, tunes in for “The Final 30” to talk about how she’s been lately and updating The Ford Faction on the places she’s been to.  Amanda sheds light on the list of celebrities moving away from America due to President Trump winning the 2016 Election.  Amanda talks about social media titans Snapchat and Instagram dumping the GIF site Giphy because of one user being offended by her search results.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

2 hours ago

Nancy Collat Goedecke is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact

Nancy Collat Goedecke is a powerhouse not just in the business world, but the philanthropic sphere, as well.

She also is a 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact.


Goedecke, who serves as CEO of Mayer Electric Supply in Birmingham, became the first-ever woman to chair the United Way of Central Alabama fundraising campaign in 2015. Under her leadership, the charity raised $38.8 million, about $600,000 more than the previous year.

Business and philanthropy both run in the family. Her grandfather, Ben Weil, founded Mayer Electric Supply in 1930, and her parents took over the business in 1979. Their philanthropy includes $25 million in contributions to the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Business, which took on the name Collat School of Business in 2013.

“I grew up watching my mom and dad give back to the community — first with their time, and then with their money and their time,” Goedecke told AL.com in 2015.

Goedecke told the website that she recalled her parents going door to door soliciting donations for the United Way. Community service, she said, is “just in my DNA.”

Goedecke worked her way up the company, starting with summer jobs in high school. After college, she worked as a sales associate in Tampa, Florida, before returning to Birmingham. She became vice chairwoman of the board in 2005 and chairwoman and CEO three years later.

The UAB Commission on the Status of Women honored Goedecke as one of seven Outstanding Women for 2015.

The list of Goedecke’s charitable activities is long. In addition to the United Way, she has supported the Collat School of Business and has contributed to the school’s Women and Infants Center. She has volunteered with the Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama and Pathways of Birmingham. She has led more than a dozen fundraising campaigns, including the YWCA, the American Red Cross and Collat Jewish Family Services.

“You know how they say, you give a busy person something to do and they find a way to do it?” she told AL.com. “I don’t waste a lot of time.”

Brendan Kirby is senior political reporter at LifeZette.com and a Yellowhammer contributor. He also is the author of “Wicked Mobile.” Follow him on Twitter.

3 hours ago

Sexton, Petty lead Alabama by Virginia Tech 86-83

Avery Johnson has spent plenty of time trying to convince Alabama freshman star Collin Sexton to take ownership of his play and the Crimson Tide, a message the coach has repeated frequently during his team’s uneven season.

It finally seems to be getting through. The fact it took until March hardly matters.

“(Sexton’s) giving more speeches to our team, which is showing leadership,” Johnson said.

Make no mistake, however. It’s the point guard’s play — and not his talk — that sent the Crimson Tide into the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Sexton shook off a shaky and foul-marred first half to score 21 of his team-high 24 points after the break as Alabama took control late in an 86-83 victory over Virginia Tech on Thursday night.


“The coaches prepare us for stuff like this,” Sexton said. “They do so many hours of film, and they tell us all the answers to the test.”

The proof came during the second half.

Sexton made six of 10 field goals and 10 of 14 free throws over the final 20 minutes, including a jumper that got a friendly bounce off the back of the rim and a turnaround that gave the Crimson Tide a bit of breathing room in a game that featured 10 lead changes and never saw either club go in front by more than seven points.

No. 9 seed Alabama will face top-seeded Villanova in the East Region’s second round on Saturday. The Wildcats had little trouble dispatching Radford earlier Thursday.

Things weren’t nearly as easy for the Crimson Tide, who needed Sexton and freshman backcourt mate John Petty — and a serious uptick in defensive intensity in the late going — to reach the round 32 for the first time since 2006.

Sexton and Petty were in elementary school back then. Now they’re the centerpiece of Johnson’s dynamic attack with the Crimson Tide (20-15). Alabama shot 60 percent (30 of 50) from the floor. Petty, mired in a serious slump near the end of the regular season, finished with 20 points while making six of eight 3-pointers, including three in the first half to help the Crimson Tide hang around until Sexton got going.

“When I get in that type of mode, I feel like no one can stop me from shooting the ball,” Petty said. “I always have my eyes locked on my target and I’m going to hit it.”


Point guard Justin Robinson led the eighth-seeded Hokies (21-12) with 19 points but fouled out after being whistled for a charge with 48 seconds remaining and Virginia Tech down 78-74. Hokies coach Buzz Williams got a technical foul after erupting in frustration. Sexton made one of two free throws and then added two more on Alabama’s ensuing possession to give the Crimson Tide just enough of a cushion.

“I shouldn’t have had a towel in my hand,” Williams said. “That made it look worse.”

The bigger issue for Virginia Tech was an inability to keep Alabama in check. The Hokies forced 17 turnovers but couldn’t slow down Petty and had trouble whenever Sexton got into the lane. Alabama made 20 of 30 2-point shots, including 11 of 14 in the second half.


Johnson paid tribute to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, who died on Thursday at age 90. Benson gave Johnson, a New Orleans native, a Super Bowl ring after the Saints won their only title in February 2010 after Johnson served as a consultant and honorary ambassador for the club.

“He meant so much to the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana and so many people,” Johnson said.


Alabama: Sexton might be the thinking man’s version of Oklahoma star point guard Trae Young. Sexton lacks Young’s shooting touch, but his quickness makes it nearly impossible to keep him out of the lane. And rather than force shots late, Sexton tried to get to the rim.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are on the rise in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but success in March remains elusive. Virginia Tech has just one NCAA Tournament win in the last 21 years.


Alabama will try to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004 when it takes on Villanova.

(Image: Collin Sexton, Alabama Men’s Basketball/Twitter)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

3 hours ago

Alabama sheriff pocketing $750,000 in jail-food money draws new attention to old law

A recent report about the more than $750,000 that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has pocketed over the last three years in extra “Food Provisions” money has reinvigorated attention into a state law that allows sheriffs to keep leftover money not used to feed inmates.

The report, authored by Birmingham News reporter Connor Sheets, details how Entrekin used the money to purchase a $740,000 home in Orange Beach last September, raising questions of whether the sheriff is doing right by inmates and taxpayers by keeping the money.

Entrekin has defended himself against insinuations of illegality or misconduct, saying he has followed the law.


“The Food Bill is a controversial issue that’s used every election cycle to attack the Sheriff’s Office,” Entrekin told NPR News. “Alabama Law is clear regarding my personal financial responsibilities of feeding inmates. Until the legislature acts otherwise, the Sheriff must follow the current law.”

The chief argument against the law used to justify such behavior was summarized by Aaron Littman, a staff attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights who in conjunction with the Alabama Appleseed Center has sued 49 Alabama sheriffs for access to records dealing with inmate feeding funds.

“This archaic system is based on a dubious interpretation of state law that has been rejected by two different Attorneys General of Alabama, who concluded that the law merely allows sheriffs to manage the money and use it for official purposes–not to line their own pockets,” Littman said in a statement in January. “It also raises grave ethical concerns, invites public corruption, and creates a perverse incentive to spend as little as possible on feeding people who are in jail.”

Critics cite the case of former Morgan County Sheriff Greg Bartlett, who was ordered by a federal judge to stop personally taking money from the inmate-food account when prisoners testified to receiving inadequate meals.

Some sheriffs have told a different story about their responsibilities to feed inmates.

Colbert County Sheriff Frank Williamson, one of the sheriffs on the lawsuit, told WAAY 31 in January that he had to take out a $10,000 loan to help pay for meals because the $1.75 per diem per inmate wasn’t covering the bill.

“I had to borrow money to do this on my own personal social security number and I still owe money on that,” Williamson told WAAY 31.

4 hours ago

Licensing away economic prosperity in Alabama

Do you want to alleviate poverty in Alabama? Do you want to curb the power of special interest groups over government agencies? Do you want more affordable goods and services in basic industries?  Do you want to help disadvantaged groups find good jobs and become productive citizens? Do you want to reduce the population of our overcrowded prisons?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should read a new report published by the Alabama Policy Institute titled “The Costs of Occupational Licensing in Alabama.”


Coauthored by Daniel Smith (Troy University), Courtney Michaluk (Troy University), David Hall (Troy University), and Alex Kanode (George Mason University), the report details the effects of occupational licensure on our state.

What is occupational licensure? In short, it’s governmental regulation requiring people to obtain a license before entering into certain trades or fields.

Sounds harmless, right? Aren’t these regulations in place to protect consumers from exploitation and inexpert practices? Such reasoning led to the rise in occupational licensure, which today extends to several zones of economic activity.

However well-meaning, occupational licensure has had unintended consequences on the people it’s designed to protect. Instead of helping average consumers, it lines the pockets of industries that have lobbied to regulate away entrepreneurial forces that drive down costs.

If you’re poor and trying to find low-skilled work as a barber, manicurist, eyebrow threader, hair stylist, school bus driver, or shampoo assistant, you must obtain a license first. This license may be prohibitively expensive because of renewal fees, coursework, continuing education, and so forth.

“Alabama licenses a total of 151 occupations,” according to the report, “covering over 432,000 Alabama workers, which represents over 21 percent of the labor force.” Think about that: more than two of every 10 people working in Alabama need a license to do what they do for a living. Licensing boards governing admission standards and prerequisites can mandate expensive training and dues that don’t affect the quality of industry services.

Economists refer to occupational licensure as a barrier to entry. Barriers to entry ensure that those already within a profession or trade can raise prices to artificially high levels, in effect squeezing out competition by using the mechanisms of government to control the market.

Inflated prices harm low-income families who cannot afford to buy what they could have bought if the market had set prices based on natural supply and demand. Spouses of military service members often suffer from occupational licensure because, when they move from state to state, they must jump through hoops to enter the licensed profession in which they practiced in other jurisdictions.

Occupational licensure is, in short, a net burden on the economy, escalating prices, limiting consumer choice, and restricting economic mobility.  The API report estimates that the overall costs of occupational licensure in Alabama exceed $122 million. That’s a lot of money. What can be done to keep some of it in the hands of the ordinary people who need it most?

The report proposes five reforms for Alabama policymakers:

1. “[T]hey can reform current procedures for extending occupational licensing to new occupations and mandate thorough review processes to ensure that licensing is not extended to new occupations without a demonstrable and severe threat to consumer safety that cannot be overcome with the market mechanisms, such as consumer or expert reviews, reputation, guarantees, or private certification, or the already existing government laws, such as those dealing with liability, fraud, misrepresentation, and false advertising.”

2. “[T]hey can establish procedures to systematically review all licensure requirements for currently licensed occupations to ensure that they do not require unnecessary or excessive requirements or costs for licensure.

3. “[T]hey can systematically review all currently licensed occupations to determine, individually, whether a demonstrable severe threat to consumer safety exists. If not, they can remove occupation licensing entirely for those occupations.”

4. “[They] can explore licensure reforms that specifically target ex-offenders” to reduce the prison population and criminal recidivism.

5. “[They] can … explore occupational licensing reform with military members and their families in mind.”
A short article cannot capture the nuance and particulars of the entire report; readers should view the report for themselves to make up their own minds.

During this time of partisan divide and political rancor, people of good faith on both the left and the right can agree that something needs to be done about occupational licensure. The problem cannot continue to grow. It presents a unique opportunity for Republican and Democratic lawmakers to come together to ease economic burdens on the people of Alabama. Let’s hope they seize it.

(Image: Pixabay)

Allen Mendenhall is associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.