• 48°
franklin county times

Interim measures continue for judge seat vacated by Dempsey’s passing

Judge Terry Lee Dempsey, the 34th circuit judge, passed away Feb. 17 at UAB Hospital after a brief illness. While his seat is yet to be filled, his duties are being shared pending an announcement by the governor naming his successor.

Franklin County district attorney Joey Rushing explained the measures currently in place.

“When Judge Dempsey became disabled, the Administrative Office of Courts appointed Judge Paula McDowell, who is also our district judge, as well as Judge Leslie Johnson, a retired circuit judge out of Lauderdale County, to handle his cases while on disabled status, and this arrangement has continued since his passing.”

Rushing explained McDowell’s husband, Danny McDowell, has a law firm in town, so she can’t preside over any McDowell and Beason cases. Any cases she has to be recused from for that or any other reason are handled by Johnson.

“Our understanding is that the governor’s office has held interviews with three candidates, all in Russellville,” Rushing said. “Nobody knows exactly when the new judge will be appointed, but the expectation is that it could be any day now.”

Rushing explained that a future effective date may be chosen, once a replacement has been selected, in order to give that person time to close their law office.