1. StevePerkins says:

    The only part that raises my eyebrow is the ban on senior judges hearing death penalty cases. Given that capital cases are the most important and sensitive case we have in our criminal justice system, it flies in the face of reason to require that they be heard by junior judges only. That’s clearly nothing more than a spiteful slap at Judge Fuller, and should be struck down.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Chris it does. We can only hope that Steve is kidding.

    A more descriptive title would be “unelected” judges. In fact they can even be judges that lost re-election bids, although more likely judges that simply “retired”.

  3. Chris says:

    Senior Judges just sounds stupid.

    Is Roy Barnes now a Sr. Governor? Mark Taylor a Sr. Lt. Governor? Can Roy Barnes just show up at the capitol and start signing some bills when Sonny gets tad busy? Heck no.

    If judges are gonna be elected (I’m not sure I like that either) – then when the retire, lose, or just don’t run again they are done. No more black robes. Either they, or the voters, said no more.

  4. bowersville says:

    Senior judges are retired chief judges of a particular Superior court judicial circuit.

    A senior judge trying a case in a foreign jurisdiction is an anomaly that occurs when the judges within the circuit have a high profile/controversial case that they don’t believe they can be impartial/reelected or simply want to avoid.

    The retired senior judge is not facing reelection and is more subject to the law as written IMHO.

  5. StevePerkins says:

    Yes Doug, I’m being a little tongue-in-cheek with the “junior judge” label. However, it’s nevertheless useful and appropriate to bring in a senior judge for a high-profile case that is bound to be a media circus (e.g. the case that spawned this legislation).

    As everything from the Duke lacrosse team to celebrity shoplifters demonstrate… elected officials do okay when working below-the-radar cases, but can be less than trustworthy when a high profile case lets them use the spotlight to further their own political careers.

  6. The Comma Guy says:

    And don’t forget that we pay Sr. Judges by the day (on top of their pension) while Jr. Judges are salaried and have active case loads to get back to considering. That’s the difference in motivations between Fuller and Bodiford. Fuller had nothing other than tee times pressing on him. Bodiford has his share of the load of Cobb County cases just sitting around waiting for him to get back.

    The Sr. Judge system got seriously abused in Augusta among other places around the state. If a circuit is relying on a Sr. Judge or 2 to keep the case load manageable, they should be audited to determine in another judgeship should be created or if there are other issues at play (not enough trial weeks or hearing dates, inequitable division of cases) that would help resolve extremely high case loads. Most of the time it’s just a crutch for a Jr. Judge to be able to have a more routine 10-4 M-Th schedule.

  7. dorian says:

    Where in the blue blazes do you people do you people do your legal research, creative loafing? One, a senior judge does NOT have to have been a chief judge. Generally, he or she is just a judge that has ten or more years of experience. see OCGA 15-1-9.2. Two, there are instances in which an entire circuit is disqualified from presiding over a case (see election contests). How many of you people actually know the reasons a judge can be recused or disqualified? None. Just what I thought. Three, who do you think is going to be presiding over Boddford’s court while he presides in the Nichols case? It’ll probably be a senior judge.

    Fuller was a hack, and there are senior judges who abuse the system. There are bad apples from every profession, but here’s a little tid bit no one has mentioned, senior judges have to be asked to preside somewhere. They don’t just show up. That makes the judge that asked them there generally responsbile for their conduct (see elected judge), and if they don’t do a good job or abuse they system, they usually don’t get asked back.

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