FLORENCE — Local attorney James Hall was sworn in as the Lauderdale County probate judge Tuesday afternoon.
Hall, a Florence attorney, was elected to the position Nov. 6. He was scheduled to take office Jan. 15.
He was notified late last week that Gov. Robert Bentley had appointed him to fill the unexpired term of former Probate Judge Dewey Mitchell, who retired Oct. 31.
Lauderdale County Circuit Judge Mike Jones appointed Kristy Thompson, the chief clerk in the probate office, to the probate judge’s position on an interim basis.
Mitchell, who was elected as the County Commission chairman in November, said the governor’s office notified him Friday about Hall’s appointment.
“It just makes good sense to go ahead and get him in place at this time since he would be coming in Jan. 15 anyway,” Mitchell said. “This relieves Kristy of those responsibilities and lets James get accustomed to the office.”
Hall, the Democratic nominee, defeated Republican candidate William Smith in the Nov. 6 general election.
“Kristy did a good job, and I think she’s looking forward to getting some help,” Hall said. “The last few days have been a little hectic. I think I have some cases to be heard today.”
Hall has a private law practice in Florence and also is municipal judge for the city of Florence.
“I have given the city (of Florence) my notice, and they are in the process of finding my replacement,” Hall said. “At the same time, we are trying to see what cases we can close at the office and what cases need to be transferred to another attorney, as well as getting the office shut down.”
Although he is familiar with probate court, he said, getting the appointment to finish the term will give him on-the-job training.
“There is a lot I know, but a lot I need to learn,” Hall said. “This gives me a chance to get some extra experience.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.