Alabama governor names new state attorney general

Published 9:22 pm Friday, February 10, 2017

MONTGOMERY (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Steve Marshall, the long-time district attorney of Marshall County, as Alabama’s attorney general on Friday.

The appointment comes a day after Bentley named the former attorney general, Luther Strange, to the U.S. Senate seat Jeff Sessions vacated when he was confirmed as U.S. attorney general.

“Steve is a well-respected District Attorney with impeccable credentials and strong conservative values,” Bentley said in a statement.

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Marshall has been a Marshall County district attorney since 2001.

During his career, he was involved in the passing of a law to put ephedrine products behind pharmacy counters to combat crystal meth production. He also led the first prosecution under “Brody’s Law,” which allows a person suspected of killing a pregnant woman to be charged with two murders if the fetus also dies.

Marshall, in a statement, thanked the governor for the opportunity.

“The time spent working alongside law enforcement for the last 20 years has been a remarkable privilege. As Attorney General, we will continue to support their efforts to keep Alabamians safe and free from violent crime,” Marshall said.

A telephone message to Marshall wasn’t immediately returned.

The new attorney general will face immediate questions about an impeachment investigation against Bentley and what role an attorney general appointed by Bentley should play.

In November, Strange had asked the House Judiciary Committee to pause an impeachment investigation of the governor, who was accused last year of having an affair with a onetime top political adviser.

Bentley has acknowledged making personal mistakes, but denied doing anything legally wrong. Strange, in asking for the pause, said his office was doing “related work” though he didn’t elaborate on what it involved.

Critics, including Rep. Ed Henry — who filed the impeachment articles against Bentley — said Strange’s appointment gives the appearance of “conspiracy of collusion” after he halted the investigation and then shortly afterward sought an appointment from Bentley.

Strange brushed aside those criticisms Thursday, saying his letter to the committee was sent a week before the presidential election and Donald Trump’s victory that led to the open Senate seat.

In elevating Strange, the governor was able to handpick a replacement attorney general who will be in charge of that “related work” and enforcing state laws for the rest of Bentley’s term.

Yasamie R. August, a spokeswoman for Bentley, said the government did not discuss his legal situation in interviews with candidates for the position.

Committee Chairman Mike Jones said recently he wants to discuss the status of things with the new attorney general and if the impeachment probe can proceed.

Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, praised Marshall’s selection.

“Steve Marshall, as District Attorney, was an incredible prosecutor, who understands that a prosecutor’s oath is to firmly seek justice, tempered with fairness and mercy for every citizen,” Matson said.

Marshall had widely been considered a front-runner for days, though Bentley’s office said the governor interviewed several candidates.

Among those interviewed were state school board member Mary Scott Hunter, Acting Attorney General Alice Martin, Fayette County District Attorney Chris McCool, former state Sen. Bryan Taylor, state Sen. Cam Ward, state Sen. Tom Whatley and state Sen. Phil Williams. Martin had served as Strange’s chief deputy.