The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. appointed a new Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee on Thursday that he hopes will be as successful as his 1998 committee in toning down the vicious tactics in campaigns for judgeships.

Montgomery attorney Maury Smith, a longtime friend of Hooper's, is chairman of the committee, and retired Union Bank President Henry Leslie of Montgomery is vice chairman.

Hooper originally appointed the Judicial Campaign Oversight Committee in 1998 to serve as a resource for judicial candidates who had questions about campaign tactics and to mediate disputes between judicial candidates. The committee - the first of its kind in the nation - came after the bitter races for the Alabama Supreme Court in 1994 and 1996.

Hooper said the committee "was instrumental in improving the overall tone of the judicial campaigns in Alabama" in 1998.

For 2000, he said he chose to appoint a new group to get more people involved in the election process. He said he picked a wide selection of lawyers and judges, both Democrats and Republicans, and the committee will have an important job because five state Supreme Court seats and 100 district and circuit judgeships will be up for election.

Other members of the committee are: Circuit Judge James Garrett of Birmingham, Birmingham attorney Carol Ann Smith of Birmingham, District Judge Terry Thomas of Cullman, Cumberland Law School professor Michael DeBow of Birmingham, Circuit Judge Robert Wilters of Bay Minette, Court of Civil Appeals Judge Bill Thompson of Montgomery, former Alabama Trial Lawyers Association President Jim Pratt of Birmingham, District Judge Gerald Topazi of Birmingham, Montgomery attorney Al Agricola, Circuit Judge Wayne P. Thorn of Birmingham, former Gov. John Patterson, University of Alabama law professor William S. Brewbaker III of Tuscaloosa, Circuit Judge Joseph Johnston of Mobile, incoming State Bar President Wade Baxley of Dothan, Jefferson County Probate Judge Michael Bolin, Montgomery attorney Terry Brown, Circuit Judge Bill Shashy of Montgomery, District Judge Eric Fancher of Bessemer, Montgomery attorney Frank Wilson, District Judge Patricia Smith of Columbiana, Birmingham attorney Kenneth Simon, Circuit Judge Robert Kendall of Mobile, Tuscaloosa attorney Elizabeth Colwick, Montgomery attorney Delores Boyd, District Judge Joel Holley of LaFayette, outgoing State Bar President Victor Lott of Mobile, and former Alabama Trial Lawyers Association President Greg Breedlove of Mobile.