THE CANDIDATE’S CLAIM: The campaign website for Kelli Wise, Republican candidate for Alabama Supreme Court Justice Place 1, states: “She has written and reviewed over 20,000 cases during her 9 years on the court.” Wise is currently the presiding judge on the five-member Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals.
SUMMARY: That number sounds high, but according to court Clerk Lane Mann, the court handles 2,000 to 2,700 cases a year. All members of the court weigh in on each case, he said. With nine-plus years on the bench, Wise’s claim appears to be valid.
ANALYSIS: At first glimpse, 20,000 cases seem to be an inflated claim. Let’s do the math:
-- Minus vacation, a judge might work about 45 weeks per year (Judges get two to four days of vacation a month.) Subtracting holidays, the judge would work about 218 days annually. Multiply 218 work days by nine years on the bench, and we get 1,962 work days.
--If Wise worked approximately 1,950 days and reviewed “more than” 20,000, that is 10.3 cases reviewed per day.
--In a phone interview, Wise told the Opelika-Auburn News that she often takes her case load with her on vacation days.
“I even read cases at the beauty parlor (Van Leez in Montgomery) with foils in my hair,” she said. Wise also said that she has been on the bench closer to 10 years now and the case load is closer to 23,000. “Some cases are simple,” she said. “Some take less than 30 minutes. Capital cases can take days or even months.”