Published 9:15 am Wednesday, March 7, 2007
By By Lydia Grimes – features reporter
There is a new judge in town. He is new to his job, but he is a very familiar face in the courtroom. Judge Bert Rice was elected to the office of Circuit Judge and took office just a few weeks ago. He has been described by those who know him as being able to dispense justice and at the same time be compassionate.
He is a mild mannered, soft-spoken man who comes to his job ready to handle whatever the day may hold.
Rice said that he has been happy working in Atmore as an attorney.
Rice was born and grew up in Birmingham. He is from a small family with one brother. His father was a commercial photographer and had his own frame shop in Homewood. Both of the boys spent time working there while they were growing up.
He graduated from Shades Valley High School in 1967. While in school he participated in sports, especially track and field events. He received an athletic scholarship in track and cross-country to Auburn University. He graduated in 1971 with a degree in liberal arts.
He graduated from law school in 1974 and took the bar later in the year. He was from a large city and knew that he wanted to practice in a small town. Robert Maxwell, an attorney from Atmore had come up to the campus and done some interviews. Rice was interviewed and offered a job with Maxwell's firm in Atmore.
Rice's wife went to work in Escambia County with the department of Human Resources with Child Welfare. They became the parents of three children. Alan is an attorney and a full-time prosecutor in Baldwin County with women and children's cases. Emily is an attorney practicing and living in Mobile County with her husband, Chris Conte. The youngest is Matthew, and he is a sophomore at Auburn University.
In 1977 Judge Brogden gave up his job as city judge for the Atmore City Court and Rice was asked by the city council to be the city judge. He was also an assistant district attorney. Rice has now followed Judge Brogden once more, this time to the district court.
Rice has kept in touch with his sports side, too. He coached all the way through his kids being involved with one sport of the other. He has not lost his love of running either. He still runs and plans on being in the 10 Azalea Trail Run in a few weeks.
He is also very involved with his church, First Presbyterian Church in Atmore, where he teaches an adult Sunday school class. He has been a member of the Lions Club of Atmore for 25 years and worked on its charter.