ALAJ Salutes...

Sam Junkin


TUSCALOOSA –Sam Junkin never really doubted that he would follow in the footsteps of his father, retired Circuit Judge Clatus Junkin.
Junkin was born in 1975, about the same time his father was elected to the bench in a circuit that included his home county of Fayette, along with Lamar and Pickens counties.
“I grew up going to the courthouse through the back door entrance,” Junkin said. “I thought practicing law was cool, I thought the courthouse was cool, I thought my dad was cool. We lived in a small town and I thought that was cool too.”
Junkin said his father was supportive of his decision to become a lawyer, but did not try to influence his decision on what type of law to practice. Judge Junkin just knew that going to law school would be a good education for his son.
Sam Junkin headed to the University of Alabama after a brief stint at a Bevill State Community College there in Fayette. He stuck around town for a year to be with his then high school sweetheart, now his wife, August. He was a year older than her, and waited for her to graduate high school so they could go to college together.
He and August got married after his second year of law school at Alabama and made their home in Tuscaloosa, where they still live, with their three-year-old daughter, Laura.
“Tuscaloosa is where we came when I was growing up,” Junkin said. “This is where we came to eat, to shop and go to football and basketball games,” Junkin said. “This is where August and I wanted to live and raise a family and so far it has all worked out and going as I had hoped.”
Junkin now practices law with his father, who retired from the bench in 1994, and his other two partners, Greg Pearson and Chuck Harrison. Their main office is in Tuscaloosa, but they also have an office in Fayette. While their office handles cases in Tuscaloosa, Birmingham and Federal Court the majority of the cases Junkin handles are in Fayette, Lamar and Pickens counties. He said practicing in smaller counties in rural areas is a lot different than practicing in Tuscaloosa.
“The juries are different, the cases are different,” he said. “To me, it really is a lot more fun primarily because everything is much more laid back.
“The juries are made up of regular everyday people, and it seems like everything is a little more personal or familiar, which I guess is true of most everything in a small town” he added.
Even though Junkin has opted to follow in his father’s professional footsteps, he is not interested right now in following in his political footsteps.
“Politics is not like it used to be,” Junkin said. “I remember when you stood at grocery stores and handed out cards.
“We would go to a political rally and there would be a 200-yard long table filled with food and there would be three hundred people there and the candidates would get up and talk about why you should vote for them…not why you shouldn’t vote for their opponent.
“Now everything is so negative, and it usually has little or nothing to do with your actual qualifications. Seems like the personal and family sacrifice is much different now” Junkin said.
Junkin fulfills his political niche by being active in the Alabama Association for Justice. He contributes to the association’s political action committee, is a sustaining member and was the first chairman of the Emerging Leaders.
And, what does he do for fun: He flies the plane owned by his father’s gravel company.
“About four years ago I decided to learn to fly,” he said. “It is a great hobby because you are concentrating so much on not dying that you forget about everything else.”
His wife and daughter were quick to jump in the passenger’s seat. He said Laura started flying with them when she was six months old, but his father was another story.
“My dad just would not fly….when we were growing up we never flew anywhere. When we got older and would go snow skiing, we would all fly and he would drive and carry everybody’s luggage. So it was funny that he ended up buying a plane,” Junkin said. “When we got the plane he would not even sit in it when it was on the ground, cut off.”
But the former judge changed his mind a little while ago, after he was forced to take his first commercial flight in 40-something years. “He had to go to south Florida for a meeting and only had one day to do it,” Junkin said. “He had a really good experience and finally got over his fear.” Now Judge Junkin makes regular trips with Sam and his three brothers, all of whom work for the gravel company.
The Junkins are also active in the community. He helps coach one of the trial teams at the law school and August is a pre-school music teacher at Noah’s Ark and directs the four to five year old choir at the Tuscaloosa First United Methodist Church.
They are avid University of Alabama football fans; Junkin has been sitting in the same seats since he was 10 years old; and are also avid basketball fans, however Junkin was one of many who cancelled their basketball tickets over dissatisfaction with former Coach Mike Gottfried.
“When they called me and asked me why I had not renewed my tickets I told them I would renew them when they got a new coach,” Junkin said. “I guess I will get tickets again next year.”
Probably one of the more dramatic actions Junkin has taken lately came last summer when he shaved his head.
“My hair was receding and thinning and I just decided to move on with my life and shave it off,” Junkin said. “It has absolutely been a topic of conversation and I get questions about it all the time.”
Shaved head and all, Junkin is an ALAJ Champion of Justice.