Matthew Huggins will firmly tell you that he “appreciates having grown up in this community.” As we chatted, he told me what it was like growing up here He went to both public and private school, having graduated from Athens Bible School before attending Auburn University. He majored in history, and graduated with honors. He particularly loves Civil War history, and we talked at length about the Scottsboro Boys case, which is also the topic of Holly Hollman’s article.
Matthew said that he has always felt a calling to law in general, and specifically as a prosecutor. “I saw it as a position where I would be able to influence people’s lives,” he told me. Several things served to “seal the deal” as far as pursuing a law career is concerned, not the least of which was having the opportunity to spend a summer clerking for soon-to-retire Limestone County Circuit Judge Jimmy Woodroof. Other mentors included former Alabama State Supreme Court Justice Patti Smith, former Alabama State Senator Tom Butler, and Judge Jerry Batts. Matthew received his law degree from Faulkner University, and then came back home to officially begin his career by working in the District Attorney’s office
When Judge Batts announced his retirement, Matthew went to his family as well as to prayer regarding making the decision to run for the District judicial position. His parents, Mike and Jackie Huggins, and his parents-in-law, Grant and Mitzi Gilbert, along with his wife, Holly, have all encouraged him to run. Holly, an art teacher, gave birth to their first child, Ford, in October of 2015.
I asked him, “What do you say to people who think you are too young for this position?” He answered by telling me about his grandfather, Jack Riley. He showed me a picture of Jack in a courtroom trying a murder trial in the late 1950s. “Big Jim Folsom appointed my grandfather at age 29 as the circuit solicitor, a position later renamed district attorney, and then he became Circuit Judge in Cullman County,” he said, and added, “He was one of my heroes. Another of my heroes is my other grandfather, Horace Huggins, who was a gospel preacher.” He then added, “I don’t think it is necessarily the quantity of cases that I have tried, as much as the quality.”
He went on to say that he has been “pleased to be in the DA’s office, and getting continual experience, and the best experience.”
During his career, Matthew has handled thousands of misdemeanor cases, as well as hundreds of felony cases. However, his “baby” is Drug Court, which, incidentally, has been strongly supported by all of the judges, as well as those who are running for the various judicial positions. He is the Supervisor of District Court prosecutions, and estimates that “80-85% of all my cases are drug related.”
“It is so rewarding to see people turn their lives around,” he said. (And, I might add, it is gratifying as a resident of Limestone County to know that our judiciary is not in any way opposed to faith based recovery and rehab programs, unlike districts in other states.) He also said, “What makes me happy and truly satisfied is to know that when I go to sleep at night, I have made a difference.”
By way of professional associations, Matthew is a member of the Limestone County Cattlemen’s Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, and is a board member of the Little Light of Mine Foundation, a local non-profit organization. He also is a member in good standing with the Alabama Bar Association and the Limestone County Bar Association. He and Holly worship with the Oakland Church of Christ.
“I strive for justice, to be fair and impartial,” he told me. Then he added, “I want to be just in every case.” If you believe his values, experience and conservatism would best serve us as District Judge in Place 2, then cast your vote for Matthew Huggins on March 1st
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner