Justice A. Kelli Wise, a fifth generation Alabamian raised near her family’s small rural farm, attended public schools in Dale County and Autauga County. She is the daughter of the late Colonel Bobby W. Wise of Kinston and the late Mrs. Betty Mathis Wise of Samson and the niece of late Geneva County Probate Judge Harold B. Wise. Justice Wise received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University and a Juris Doctorate from Faulkner University's Jones School of Law. She holds an MPA from Auburn University at Montgomery, which presented her with the University's Outstanding Alumni Award and named her among the University’s Top 40 graduates in 40 years. In addition, she was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Judson College.
Justice Wise was first elected to the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 2000, becoming the youngest woman elected to serve on an Alabama Appellate Court. She was re-elected in 2006 and was later selected to serve as Presiding Judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals where she authored numerous opinions aimed at strengthening Alabama's criminal laws and protecting Alabama citizens from violent offenders. Justice Wise was elected to the Supreme Court of Alabama in 2010 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2022. She heads the Court’s Wise Division. Throughout her tenure on the bench Justice Wise has worked to defend the Constitution, safeguard our liberty, and provide fair and impartial justice for those who come before Alabama’s highest court.
As an active volunteer in her community, Justice Wise serves in numerous legal, professional, and social organizations. She is a graduate of Leadership Alabama, Chair of the Alabama Court Improvement Project Multidisciplinary Task Force, a member of the Alabama Judicial Conference, an Alabama Law Foundation Fellow, a member of the Alabama State Bar Association, a Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Trustee, a member of the American Council of Young Political Leaders, a member of the Max Credit Union Board of Directors, and a founding member of the Lillie Lee Minier Society. Justice Wise also serves on The Council of State Government, Civic Health Task Force, CSG Veterans Committee and has previously served as President of the Junior League of Montgomery, as well as on the board of directors for The Family Sunshine Center and Hands On River Region.
Justice Wise and her husband, former Montgomery County District Court Judge Arthur Ray, are the proud parents of Hanah-Mathis, a recent graduate of The University of Alabama. They are members of St. James United Methodist Church, where Justice Wise has taught Children’s Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Small Group Bible Study and has served on the Parish-Staff Relations Board.