Judge Lee Bowles retains bench seat

Friday, August 3, 2012
Tribune photo by Karen Hall Marshall County Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Lee Bussart Bowles poses with Marshall County Sheriff Norman Dalton.

By Karen Hall

Staff Writer

Marshall County Sessions and Juvenile Court Judge Lee Bussart Bowles has won another two years on the bench - besting her challenger, Marshall County Attorney Bill Haywood, by about a 3-2 margin.

"I feel so blessed," she said while surrounded by friends and family during her victory party at Saddle Creek Country Club. "I appreciate the confidence in me shown by the voters, and I will do my best to keep doing a good job for Marshall County."

Bowles' victory, and the margin, was accurately predicted by the Straw Poll taken last Saturday at Five Points Fire Department.

Speaking there, under more tranquil conditions than those at the victory party, she said, "I wanted a full-time job so I could dedicate myself to the people of Marshall County. I feel called. This job is important to me.

"I feel like if I work hard with the children on Monday (in juvenile court), it will make the adult court on Tuesday better," she continued at the fire hall that night. "I want the court house to be a house of solutions."

Bowles preceded Haywood as Marshall County attorney, having succeeded her father as county attorney; Walter Bussart, her now-former law partner and a former judge and state lawmaker.

"I'd like to congratulate Judge Bowles on her victory," said Haywood, who admitted being tired, and said, "I'm glad it's over. Campaigning has been my life for the last six months."

"It was the voice of Marshall County that spoke," Haywood said, expressing gratitude to his family and supporters, and complementing all the candidates for running a good race.

Haywood ran for office once before. That was 19 years ago, when he was fresh out of law school and ran for Lewisburg city judge, losing to Roger Brandon.

"I've had my fill of campaigning," he said. "It's tough on you."

Bowles also campaigned hard and long. She started Election Day in Belfast, and went all over the county, at every stop leaving behind loyal supporters waving her signs as voters arrived at the polls.

Bowles was appointed on Oct. 6 over Lewisburg-based attorney Cecelia Spivy, counsel for the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities. Haywood applied, but withdrew before the meeting.

Bowles succeeded Steve Bowden who served as sessions court judge for nearly 34 years.

The winner of Thursday's county general election for judge is to serve until what would have been the end of Bowden's term in September 2014. Judges serve eight-year terms.

Bowles' first nine months on the bench were challenging as she presided over several hearings for Jerron Braden, 18, of Lewisburg, who's accused in the shooting death of Penny Coyle. Braden was 17 when Coyle died Nov. 21 on Old Rock Crusher Road. As such, he was taken into custody named in a petition asking the juvenile court judge to declare him delinquent. Bowles protected the teen's legal rights in juvenile court, but after a lengthy hearing in June she transferred the case to circuit court where he's to be tried as an adult.

Tribune Senior Staff Writer Clint Confehr contributed to this report.