Governor Kay Ivey on Tuesday appointed James P. “Jim” Naftel II as presiding probate judge of Jefferson County.
Naftel, a shareholder at the prestigious Birmingham-headquartered law firm of Maynard Cooper & Gale, fills the vacant Place 1 spot on the probate court and becomes the chief elections official of Alabama’s largest county. Longtime Probate Judge Alan King recently retired from this position.
Ivey made the appointment in a letter to Naftel which was released to the media.
“As one of my appointees, you will be making important decisions that directly affect the citizens of Alabama,” the governor wrote. “I have made honesty and integrity a priority in my Administration, and I know that you will embody these two virtues while serving the people of Alabama.”
Maynard Cooper’s website describes Naftel as a “member of the Firm’s Estate, Trust and Business Planning Practice, Fiduciary Advisory Services Practice, and the Fiduciary, Trust and Estate Litigation Practice groups.”
He is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel and past chair of the Birmingham Bar’s probate section. Naftel has earned recognition from The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of Trust and Estates and Litigation: Trusts and Estates. He received his J.D magna cum laude from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1998.
Naftel told Yellowhammer News in a written response to a request for comment that he is thankful to “Governor Ivey for this honor.”
“I look forward to serving Jefferson County in this important role,” he wrote.
Naftel advised that he has not made a decision on whether he will seek election to this office after the appointment term expires, however Naftel added that he would run as a Republican if he did run.
Per Title 17 Section 17-14-6 of the Code of Alabama, “The appointment of a judge of probate is for the remainder of the unexpired term.”
The term filled Tuesday by Naftel will next be up for its regularly scheduled election in 2024. No Republican won countywide in Jefferson County in the 2018 election cycle.
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 4:55 p.m. to reflect Naftel’s response
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn