First fe­male mem­ber of Alabama Supreme Court dies

Cape Breton Post - - Obituaries - BY JAY REEVES

The first fe­male mem­ber of the Alabama Supreme Court, Janie Shores, has died.

Shores, who also was once con­sid­ered as a po­ten­tial U.S. Supreme Court nom­i­nee, died Wed­nes­day at her home in Bald­win County on the Alabama coast days af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke, ac­cord­ing to Jef­fer­son County Cir­cuit Judge Robert S. Vance, a god­son. She was 85.

Shores worked as a le­gal sec­re­tary in Mo­bile be­fore grad­u­at­ing from the Univer­sity of Alabama law school, ac­cord­ing to her of­fi­cial court biog­ra­phy. She prac­ticed in Selma and worked on the le­gal staff of Lib­erty Na­tional Life In­sur­ance Co. be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics.

Shores was first elected to the state Supreme Court in 1974 as a Demo­crat and served un­til her re­tire­ment in 1999. ThenPres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton con­sid­ered Shores for ap­point­ment to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, but the seat went to Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg.

In an in­ter­view pub­lished sev­eral years ago by the blog of Lit­i­ga­tion Coun­sel of Amer­ica, a na­tional hon­our so­ci­ety for trial at­tor­neys, Shores re­called an up­bring­ing that in­cluded be­ing the daugh­ter of teenage par­ents who didn’t make it past grade school. A friend en­cour­aged her to study law, she said, and the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing as a sec­re­tary helped with her le­gal ed­u­ca­tion.

“I had a real ad­van­tage when I fi­nally got to law school. I did know how to take dic­ta­tion and I took down ev­ery word the pro­fes­sors ut­tered, typed them up and stud­ied them for the ex­ams. I think I made good grades be­cause I of­ten an­swered the ques­tions us­ing the pro­fes­sor’s own words,” Shores told Lit­i­ga­tion Com­men­tary and Re­view.

Shores was the first fe­male pro­fes­sor at Sam­ford Univer­sity’s Cum­ber­land School of Law in subur­ban Birm­ing­ham. The Alabama Law Foun­da­tion awards a schol­ar­ship in Shores’ hon­our to fe­male law stu­dents, and Lit­i­ga­tion Coun­sel of Amer­ica awards the Janie L. Shores Trail­blazer Award in her hon­our.

Vance, whose par­ents were close friends of Shores and her late hus­band, Jim Shores, said he didn’t re­al­ize Shores’ stature when he was young.

“I don’t guess I ap­pre­ci­ated it at the time, al­though I did know that she was the first woman to be elected to the court. That reg­is­tered with me even back then,” he said.

Shores spoke her mind, Vance said, but al­ways with grace. “That is just a gift that some South­ern­ers have,” he said.

Shores’ sur­vivors in­clude daugh­ter Laura Shores, an at­tor­ney in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.


This un­dated photo pro­vided by the Alabama Supreme Court shows Janie Led­low Shores, the first fe­male mem­ber of the Alabama Supreme Court. Shores died Wed­nes­dayat her home in Bald­win County on the Alabama coast. She was 85.

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