This is the second in a series to run on Sundays focusing on the four candidates seeking the GOP nomination for Morgan County District Judge Place 3.
When Patrick Caver opened his law practice in Hartselle about 17 years ago, he started taking appointed cases in Morgan County District Court and has been involved in cases there since. He said his background in district court in Morgan and other counties, his personal life experiences and community service make him a good fit for Morgan County district judge for Place 3.
“I’ve practiced my entire career in district court, and the majority of my work is in district court,” said Caver, 47, who was a paramedic in Morgan County for 10 years before opening his law office. “I’ve practiced every type of district court case.
“I’ve seen what it takes to be a district judge,” said Caver, who has also worked cases in Limestone, Madison, Cullman and Lawrence counties.
Five candidates qualified for the Place 3 race to fill the seat being vacated by Charles Langham, who is unable to seek reelection because of the state’s age limit for judges.
Attorneys Kevin Kusta and Ta'Kisha Guster Gholston and city of Decatur prosecutor Emily Baggett are also Place 3 candidates who will be on ballot for the March 3 Republican primary. The winner will face Democrat Paul Ray Holland, a Decatur attorney, in the Nov. 3 general election.
According to Morgan County Circuit Clerk Chris Priest, district court includes a civil division for claims up to $20,000, like debt collections and evictions, when a jury is not requested; a criminal division for misdemeanor cases, felony cases through preliminary hearings, and traffic cases; and a family division for child support, juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency cases.
“A district judge has to make hard decisions, and every decision is not going to be so clear-cut,” Caver said. “It’s going to take somebody that can make a decision based on hearing the evidence and making the best decision based on what they have. I think my past life experiences will help me do that.”
Caver and his wife, Rebecca, raised three children, now in their 20s. He also worked with young people in a variety of settings, including serving as a church youth minister and teaching classes on social media and laws related to it for youth and adults. In juvenile court, he teaches a trauma prevention program for at-risk teens to promote safe driving habits.
“I feel like a district judge is going to have to be able to relate to teenagers and at the same time relate to parents and at the same time relate to grandparents,” who are involved in juvenile cases, said Caver, who has two young grandchildren.
Through his own experiences, “I can relate to grandparents, I can relate to parents with teenagers, I can relate to teenagers,” Caver said.
This is Caver’s first campaign for public office.
“I feel like I can do more to help the community by being a judge,” Caver said. “I think I can bring new ideas to the court system.”
He said he would like to bring back a parent docket program initiated by District Judge Shelly Slate Waters about 10 years ago to which he was assigned as an attorney. Among other features, the involvement of parents whose children were in the court system was monitored.
“We had good results with it,” Caver said. “It served its purpose at the time, and I think it’s time to restart it.”
He said he would also like to see a mental health court for juveniles.
“There’s nothing wrong with the (district court) system now, but it’s always good to bring in new ideas, a different outlook on things,” Caver said.
“(The district court judgeship) is a difficult job, it’s a challenging job and I want to take that on,” he said.