Cam Ward is a public servant in two separate roles on two different levels. He is executive director of the Industrial Development Board of Alabaster, Ala., his hometown. He also represents parts of Shelby, Chilton, Jefferson (Birmingham), Bibb and Hale counties as a state senator. In that latter role he has risen, at the politically tender age of 44, to the influential chairmanship of the state Senate Judiciary Committee.
Now the question is what the future holds for Ward -- politically and otherwise -- after his July 1 arrest for DUI in Shelby County.
Ward has not said whether he will plead guilty to the charge at (or before) his scheduled Aug. 12 court appearance, but he has publicly acknowledged not just that he was drinking, but that he was seriously intoxicated. (Reports say he was between two and three times the legal blood alcohol limit.)
Meanwhile, he says he will not step down from his Senate seat or his city job in Alabaster, and Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh has said he does not plan to remove Ward as Judiciary chair.
The first two do not seem problematic. Ward's political fate will be up to the voters of his district no later than his next election anyway. The city job is a matter for Alabaster leaders to deal with.
The Judiciary chairmanship is a trickier matter. That committee oversees major legal legislation, including criminal justice. Political and civic discretion would be well served if Ward steps down from the chair, maybe even takes a hiatus from the committee itself, until his DUI case has been resolved.
Meanwhile, give Ward credit for facing the music without excuses: "I drank. I drove. That's my fault," he said in a recent interview with al.com. "We could blame everybody or fall back on 'the reason is because of this.' But the reason is because of me. That's what's got to be addressed."
Justice, at long last
We've seen many stories -- far, far too many -- about innocent people freed after years in prison when DNA evidence belatedly eliminated them as perpetrators of the crimes for which they were convicted. But an Arizona "cold" case that, thanks to DNA, is cold no longer is a reminder that genetic evidence can also be an invaluable tool in identifying the guilty.
They don't come much guiltier than Cudellius Love, now 59, who in 1989 sexually assaulted a 27-year-old woman named Laura Hunding in her Phoenix apartment and stabbed her to death.
More than two decades later, DNA evidence resulted in the June 1 conviction of Love, who on Tuesday was sentenced to prison with the possibility of parole after 25 years.
That means if he makes it to 84, he can give it a shot. We'd call it a long shot at best.