9 months ago

Alabama’s Andrew Brasher confirmed as federal judge

Trump-nominee Andrew Brasher, a resident of Montgomery, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday as the federal District Judge for the Middle District of Alabama.

Brasher was nominated for the federal judgeship by President Donald Trump in April 2018. In June, he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration of his nomination and was favorably reported out of the committee.

In statements, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall praised Brasher’s confirmation. He was serving as the solicitor general of the state of Alabama until the Senate’s 52-47 vote on Wednesday. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) voted against the confirmation.

“Andrew Brasher is an outstanding choice to serve as a district judge for the Middle District of Alabama,” Shelby said. “His judicial temperament and vast legal experience make him well-suited to assume this new role. I congratulate him on this honor and am confident that his integrity and commitment to the rule of law will further contribute to the high standard of our nation’s judicial system.”

In addition to Brasher’s confirmation, six Alabama judicial nominees, initially nominated by Trump in 2017, have been confirmed. Corey Maze, who was nominated by the president in 2018 to be a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Alabama, has been voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee and is still awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

Shelby’s office pointed to “historic obstruction by Democrats” that has occurred during the Trump administration’s attempt to confirm federal judges. The previous six presidents combined faced a total of 24 procedural votes on judicial nominees while Trump faced more than 100 during his first two years in office. To confirm Brasher on Wednesday, cloture had to be invoked.

This came after the Senate last month voted to reduce post-cloture debate time from 30 hours to two hours for certain executive and federal judicial nominations, including district court appointments, preventing further delay on confirming hundreds of qualified nominees.

Brasher has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Alabama Supreme Court as the state’s solicitor general. Brasher has tried cases in federal and state courts and won two “Best Brief Award” honors from the National Association of Attorneys General. Before his appointment as solicitor general in 2014, he served for several years as deputy solicitor general.

“It is hard to imagine anyone who is more qualified to take on the responsibility of a federal judgeship than Andrew Brasher,” Marshall emphasized. “He brings to the federal bench impeccable professional credentials as Alabama’s Solicitor General and Deputy Solicitor General for the last seven years, during which time he successfully argued cases before Alabama Supreme Court judges and U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Before joining the attorney general’s office, Brasher practiced in the litigation and white collar criminal defense practice groups in the prestigious Birmingham office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. Upon graduation from law school, he served as a law clerk to Alabama’s Judge William H. Pryor, Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Brasher earned his Bachelor of Arts with honors and summa cum laude, from Samford University, where he presently serves on the Board of Overseers, and his Juris Doctorate, cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Harvard Law Review and winner of the Victor Brudney Prize.

Marshall concluded, “I was proud to support Mr. Brasher’s nomination by President Trump and I wish him all the best as the newest judge on the U.S. Middle District Court here in Alabama.”

New Alabama solicitor general appointed

On Wednesday, Marshall also announced the appointment of Edmund LaCour, Jr. to succeed Brasher as state solicitor general.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Edmund LaCour as the new Solicitor General of the State of Alabama,” the attorney general said.

Marshall added, “Mr. LaCour, a Wiregrass native, draws upon an impressive legal and academic background to lead my office’s legal team. He has served as Alabama’s Deputy Solicitor General since December 2018 and has already made his mark. In addition to arguing multiple appeals, he has drafted briefs in several important cases, including the State’s response to Mike Hubbard’s Alabama Supreme Court appeal. I look forward to his continued service on behalf of the State of Alabama here in the Attorney General’s Office.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 mins ago

Birmingham marketing firm tapped for Super Bowl ad

Birmingham-headquartered marketing firm Big Communications has made a Super Bowl ad promoting the Fox broadcast of the 2020 Daytona 500.

The firm was tasked with making the ad by Fox Sports’ marketing team. When the ad airs on Sunday, it will be the first time in Big’s 25-year history that one of their ads will broadcast during the Super Bowl, which is the advertising industry’s biggest event of the year. Recent Super Bowls have averaged around 100 million American television viewers.

Blake Danforth, vice president of marketing for Fox Sports, credits Big’s award-winning work on Valvoline’s Never Idle campaign with piquing his interest in the firm.

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In a statement, Danforth said, “Big’s creative team had a genuine understanding of exactly what makes NASCAR fans love the sport with such an unrelenting, unrivaled intensity.”

“Promoting something as huge as the Great American Race on the biggest stage in all of advertising — that’s kind of a big deal,” commented Ford Wiles, Big partner and chief creative officer.

“This is the kind of moment that we live for — putting Alabama’s talent on display for the world to see,” Wiles concluded.

You can view Big’s Super Bowl ad here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

39 mins ago

Monument to gold star families will be added to Huntsville’s Veterans Memorial

The Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial, a park on the north side of Huntsville’s downtown area, will be adding a monument to gold star families in 2020.

Gold Star families are those who have lost a member during service in the United States Armed Forces.

The monument is the final planned addition to the veterans memorial, a project that was first dedicated on 11/11/2011. Its origin dates back to 2000 when a half-sized replica of the Vietnam memorial was temporarily displayed in Huntsville. Some residents wanted something more permanent.

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“The Veterans Memorial has been erected not to commemorate the glory of battle or triumph of victory, but to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans, and to pay homage to those heroes we have lost,” said Brigadier General (Retired) Bob Drolet, chair of the Huntsville-Madison County Veterans Memorial Foundation.

The monument to the gold star families is designed and aided by the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation, a foundation that has helped install similar monuments across the United States. To date, the group has placed 59 monuments across 45 states.

An identical monument was recently announced for installation in Mobile.

The primary sponsors of the Huntsville installation are Mike and Christine Wicks.

The Gold Star Family Memorial to be installed in Huntsville will be the first of its kind in Alabama.

The four panels on the back of the monument will read, “Homeland, Family, Patriot, and Sacrifice.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

2 hours ago

Bruce Pearl praises religious freedom in Alabama — ‘I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith’

Speaking to members of the media Monday on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl lauded the religious freedom he enjoys living in the state of Alabama. He also called for unity and spoke strongly against anti-Semitism.

Pearl last spring became the fourth Jewish head coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Final Four. He was the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

“Today has always been a difficult day for me as it Holocaust Remembrance Day,” the coach said on Monday in the opening statement of his press availability.

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“I was born in 1960, 15 years after we opened up the gates in Auschwitz and discovered the atrocities,” he continued. “We vow to never let that happen again to anyone. Anti-Semitism is a terrible thing. As a Jewish man, I’ve lived with it my whole life and I’ve seen its ugly face many times.”

Pearl explained, “That’s why I’m so blessed to live in this country where there is great religious freedom. I can live here in Auburn and practice my faith.”

“The great challenge for me has always been that we are brothers. We are all brothers. We are all sisters. We are all related,” he outlined. “Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. That makes us brothers because we have the same father – Abraham the father of many nations. Jesus was born a Jew and he died a Jew. That makes me brothers with my Christian brothers. If we can focus on that, whether you agree with it or not, that’s not my point. The point is we have a lot more in common than we have apart. We should celebrate those. We should never tolerate racism or something like anti-Semitism. What I would ask you all to remember is: never again.”

RELATED: Bruce Pearl slams AOC for ‘concentration camps’ tweets: ‘Attempt to rewrite the Holocaust’

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

2 hours ago

Ivey previews 2020 State of the State — ‘Challenges to address’

MONTGOMERY — Speaking at a gathering of the Alabama Council of Association Executives at Montgomery City Hall on Tuesday morning, Governor Kay Ivey gave a glimpse of her top priorities heading into the 2020 state legislative session.

The session gavels in at noon this coming Tuesday, February 4 — seven days from Ivey’s remarks. Her 2020 State of the State Address will follow the start of the session that evening, before President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address.

Ivey took to the podium Tuesday morning to an enthusiastic standing ovation.

“Already, 2020 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for our state and our people,” the governor said.

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While noting the “great things” going on with the Yellowhammer State’s record-breaking economy, Ivey added, “But y’all, we do have some work to do and some challenges to address.”

She urged everyone to tune into her State of the State Address next week for more specifics while broadly underlining some of the “challenges” she will discuss in that speech and tackle this year.

The governor listed “the upcoming Census, our prison concerns, healthcare, mental healthcare and education reform” as the top 2020 issues.

“2020 will be a make or break year regarding our Census. … I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a full, accurate count in the 2020 Census,” Ivey stressed. “These numbers directly impact our representation in the United States House of Representatives and directly impact billions — with a ‘b’ — of dollars that come to our state, including funds for community programs, healthcare, education and job opportunities.”

“Ten years ago when we had the [last] Census, an estimated one million children went uncounted [in Alabama],” she continued. “Folks, we’ve got to close this gap and be sure that every person who’s living and breathing in Alabama completes a Census form and returns it — parents do it for their children. This is a must.”

Transitioning to her next priority, Ivey lamented, “Another large issue that has gone unaddressed in our state for decades is our heinous prison conditions.”

She acknowledged the state’s prison problems as “multifaceted and longstanding.”

In turn, Ivey said, a “multifaceted solution” will be needed.

“Y’all, this is an Alabama problem, and we’re going to have an Alabama solution for it,” the governor added. “It’s absolutely imperative we in the state of Alabama solve our prison problems. If we don’t, the Department of Justice will come in, take over, control the administration, control our funds … so failure is not an option.”

Ivey subsequently urged all Alabamians to vote “yes” on statewide Amendment One on March 3. She referred to this as the type of “bold action” needed to improve the state’s public education system.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

Three partners elected at Balch & Bingham

One of Alabama’s most prestigious law firms has elected three new partners, the firm announced on Tuesday.

Ryan Hodinka, Alan Lovett and Dan Ruth will receive the much-desired designation with Balch & Bingham, a firm that has over 200 attorneys.

All three are based in the firm’s Birmingham office and work in high-impact areas of Balch’s wide-ranging offerings.

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“I am pleased to welcome this talented group of emerging leaders to our partnership. They have demonstrated the highest ideals of client service, collaboration and commitment to excellence,” said Stan Blanton, Balch & Bingham managing partner.

Hodinka focuses on litigation, where he represents companies in matters concerning commercial, construction and products liability.

Lovett works mainly on energy issues. He will give guidance to utility companies in commercial and regulatory issues. Lovett also specializes in all aspects of nuclear energy production.

Ruth’s primary area of concern is corporations. Ruth will advise all manner of companies and organizations on issues like mergers and acquisitions, tax controversies and economic development initiatives.

“Their talents and dedication will continue to lead the way for our clients, staff and attorneys well into the future,” added Blanton.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.