Sue Bell Cobb
The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2022.
Sue Bell Cobb grew up in Evergreen and currently resides in Pike Road. She holds history and law degrees from the University of Alabama.
Immediately following her admission to the State Bar, Cobb was appointed as district judge of Conecuh County. At age twenty-five, she was one of Alabama’s youngest judges. During her tenure, Judge Cobb accepted trial court assignments in approximately forty counties. She was the first woman elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1994 and served two terms, ruling on 25,000 criminal cases.
In 2006, Judge Cobb became the first woman elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. During her time leading the court system, she was known for accomplishing many reforms including: sentencing, juvenile justice, access to justice, mandatory judicial education, and statewide electronic filing of court cases. She received a national award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals for the largest increase of model drug courts in the nation.
After her election as Chief Justice, Judge Cobb became a nationally-known speaker on judicial campaign finance reform. Her ideas on reducing the influence of money in judicial campaigns were recognized by the Aspen Institute, Justice at Stake, and the American Constitution Society.
While on the Supreme Court, Judge Cobb served on the Executive Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and as the CCJ’s Liaison to the Council of State Governments. She was appointed as the first chair of the Task Force on Intergovernmental Relations, which encouraged state leaders from the three branches of government to work together to find solutions to the state’s most significant problems.
Prior to being elected Chief Justice, Judge Cobb served as president of the Alabama Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As a result of her efforts, she received the Juvenile Probation Officer Institute Outstanding Service Award, the Children’s Voice Award, and the Child Abuse Lifetime Achievement Award.
Judge Cobb is a founding member of Children First Foundation, dedicated to shaping policy that improves the overall well-being of Alabama’s children. Judge Cobb, along with other dedicated child advocates, such as Dr. David Bronner, established the Alabama Children First Trust Fund, which has directed hundreds of millions of direly needed funds to services for children and families.
Judge Cobb is a graduate of Leadership Alabama and is a recipient of the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s Judicial Conservationist Award, the Alabama Bar Association’s Judicial Award of Merit, and Susan Bevill Livingston’s Leadership Award. She is a member of First United Methodist Church of Montgomery and served on the Board of Trustees of the UMC Alabama-West Florida Conference.
Since her retirement, Judge Cobb has taught at Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and the Honors College at the University of Alabama. She currently serves as the pro bono executive director of Redemption Earned, Inc. This non-profit organization provides free legal assistance to worthy incarcerated individuals and works to secure their parole and transition to nursing homes.
Judge Cobb is married to William J. Cobb, now retired from Governmental Affairs of BellSouth/AT&T. Together they have three children: Bill, Andy, and Caitlin, and four grandchildren.