On Thursday, a Mobile County Judicial Commission will recommend three names to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, who may choose to appoint a replacement for retiring Circuit Court Judge Rusty Johnston.
Johnston announced his retirement in April, in the middle of an extended medical leave. His absence was rumored to be the result of a 2012 complaint involving a public row with two local defense attorneys. Retired judge Jim Wood has held the bench in Johnston’s absence and will continue to handle all of his cases until Bentley appoints a permanent replacement, or calls for a special election.
Six finalists for the position were announced in late April and included local attorneys Jeffrey U. Beaverstock, Chris N. Galanos, James T. Patterson, Wanda B. Rahman, Timothy M. Shepard, Jr. and District Judge Jay A. York. Of those, three final candidates were referred to Bentley.
The Mobile County Judicial Commission — made up of Circuit Judge Charlie Graddick, Judson W. Wells, M. Warren Butler, Oliver Washington, III and Jamie Ison — and have spent the last few weeks receiving public comments on each of the candidates.
Jeffrey Beaverstock is currently employed at the Burr Forman law firm in Mobile, where he typically focuses on contractual law. He received his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, where he served as managing editor of the Alabama Law Review.
Beaverstock, a distinguished military graduate the Citadel, also served on active duty for four years as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army and continues to serve in the Army Reserve.
Chris Galanos is a former Mobile County District Attorney, a role he served in for 15 years before retiring from the position in 1994. At that point he was initially appointed and then elected to the office of Circuit Judge before entering private practice in 1999. He received his law degree from the University of Alabama.
Prior to his legal career, Galanos was in the Army. He served a single tour of duty during the Vietnam War, earning a bronze star and an Army Commendation medal.
Jim Patterson is a graduate of Cumberland School of Law and garnered an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which identifies attorneys with “preeminent legal ability” — a reflection of expertise, experience, integrity and overall professional excellence. He’s licensed to practice in multiple states and is currently working for the Vernis & Bowling law firm.
Before his legal career, Patterson served in the United States Navy as a naval aviator in various capacities with Atlantic Fleet.District Judge Jay York is rumored to be on the shortlist to replace Johnston. Appointed by Bentley in 2012, York has since been re-elected to the same position. A 1981 graduate of Cumberland Law School, York has been listed among the “Best Lawyers in America” multiple times, according to his former campaign website.
York was a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve from 1977 to 1982 and a Lieutenant, in the United States Navy Reserve from 1982 to 1987, serving as a Judge Advocate General.
A Citronelle native, Timothy M. Shepard Jr. has been practicing criminal and family law in Mt. Vernon since the early 2000s. He graduated with a degree in criminal justice from the University of Alabama before enrolling in Jones Law.
Shepard runs a small, private practice, but is admitted and licensed to practice in U.S. District Court, the Alabama Supreme Court as well as all state circuit, district and municipal courts.
The final candidate, Wanda Rahman, is currently the legal counsel for the Mobile Police Department and has been in Mobile most of her life. A UMS Wright Graduate, she majored in political science at the University of South Alabama before attending law school at the National Law Center at George Washington University in Washington D.C.
Rahman was an assistant district attorney for Mobile County and trial lawyer before taking a position with the legal department in the City of Mobile. There she worked as a chief prosecutor and the assistant city attorney before appointed as a municipal judge.
In her capacity as a municipal judge, Rahman presided over the first specialized domestic violence court in the state of Alabama. Rahman held that position until 2006, when the city council voted not to renew her appointment.