Mannon Bankson, 65, of Choccolocco, and Chris McIntyre, 33, of Jacksonville square off in the polls March 13. Bankson now serves as district judge under appointment last year from Gov. Robert Bentley.
The Place 2 district judge handles misdemeanor criminal cases including drunk-driving charges, bad checks and traffic tickets. This judge also oversees felony pre-trial hearings and sets bond for defendants. Like all district judges serve six-year terms. A law degree is required for the position.
Bankson estimated the starting salary for the job to be approximately $110,000.
Having worked in courtrooms for 27 years, Mannon Bankson said one word –- experience -- can sum up why he believes he is the best man for the district judge position.
The Arkansas native received his law degree at the Birmingham School of Law before settling in Calhoun County in 1974. After years serving as an attorney in the county, Bankson became a circuit judge for two years before his appointment by Gov. Robert Bentley in 2011 to serve as district judge.
Although the district judge in Place 2 mostly handles misdemeanor crimes and traffic-related incidents, district judges can also be called upon to cover any type of trial.
“That’s where experience comes in,” Bankson said. “I have to be knowledgeable in all aspects. I have to know the facts and be able to handle other cases.”
“It can change at any time, and I’ve got the experience to know how to handle that,” he said.
Besides experience, fairness is the other quality important for the job, Bankson said. Bankson said a judge’s only job is to conduct a fair and honest trial.
Bankson said judges are the “ultimate attorney,” and what he’s aimed for his whole career.
“That’s what we all strive for,” Bankson said. “Being the best. That’s a good judge, an honest and fair one.”
Chris McIntyre knows people might see his age as a disadvantage in the race for district judge, but the 33-year-old said he shares something in common with another Calhoun County judge.
“I want people to know, (Circuit) Judge (Malcolm) Street was 34 when he became a judge,” McIntyre said. “I may be young, but I’m knowledgeable enough to do this job.”
Since moving to Jacksonville when he was 9 years old, McIntyre has never lived outside Calhoun County except for his college days when he studied at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and then Samford University for his law degree. He now runs a law practice in Jacksonville, where he is city prosecutor and also served as an assistant district attorney under longtime former district attorney Joe Hubbard.
McIntyre said he felt compelled to run for the district judge position last year due to concerns he had with the current judge.
“When practicing in front of Judge Bankson, there were some decisions rendered I was concerned with,” McIntyre said.
In particular, McIntyre said he took issue with Bankson dismissing a case on which he had served as an attorney before his judicial appointment.
Bankson said he dismissed the case in question after it was brought before another judge and dismissed. He said the district attorney’s office had the chance to reinstate the case, but did not exercise that option.
McIntyre said the biggest problem he saw in the court system was the low bonds set for violent criminals and “extraordinary high (bonds) for drug offenders.” He said most drug offenders sentenced 10 to 15 years in prison only serve months because of overcrowding. If elected, McIntyre said, he’d like to work closely with rehabilitation centers in the state to curb the problem.
“The answer is not to lock them up and throw away the key,” McIntyre said. “Our job is to help them and get them to be productive members of the community.”
Star staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star