Paulding Superior Court Switcharoo

Paulding County Superior Court Judge James R. Osborne qualified for re-election last Monday, and then something interesting happened: his daughter, attorney Elizabeth Osborne Williams, qualified late in the morning on Friday (the last day of qualifying) to apparently run against him. At least, that was one possibility. The other possibility was that Judge Osborne was setting her up to pass on the baton on to her, thereby bypassing a crowded election.

Judge Osborne did what was expected, he withdrew from his candidacy yesterday leaving his daughter the only qualified candidate and apparent default winner for the election.

Lawyers tend to line up for open seats on the bench, and I have no doubt that there would have been a number of them vying for that office. Rarely do the lawyers in the court circuit challenge a sitting judge (unless they’re vulnerable) since they would be arguing cases before and after the election, so I can understand it’s not the best option if you want a viable career. Needless to say, those who would’ve run for that seat are understandably upset. Judge Osborne hand-picked his successor rather than letting the election process work.

According to Jim Galloway over at the Political Insider, the Secretary of State’s office is looking at what options are available concerning this matter, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission could be asking a few questions too.

7 comments

  1. Noway says:

    Don’t you love the appearance of “gaming the system?” I know it makes me have more confidence in our elected officials!!

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    Not what anyone would call integrity. And it’s clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

  3. Doug Deal says:

    One quick fix for this is to change the law so that the SoS is ordered to open qualifying for one additional day for all offices that had a last day qualifier.

    The only way you can gift a position to anyone is by filing at the last minute, and this would allow someone to respond and qualify when it becomes known something nefarious was in play. An incumbent could still try to arrange this by qualifying on the last day and having his daughter or friend or whatever qualify on the extra day, but it would then invite challengers and people would be on notice that they might be trying this.

  4. The Comma Guy says:

    Here’s the fall-out: The deal with the JQC, which is expected to be announced Monday, would also bar Paulding County Superior Court Judge James Osborne from seeking re-election or reappointment to the post he has held since 2005, the sources said.

    In return, the judicial disciplinary agency has agreed not pursue ethics charges against Osborne or his daughter, Dallas attorney Elizabeth Osborne Williams. The JQC also would not seek to bar her from seeking another judicial post in the future, the sources said.

    Read more: http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202646952981/JQC-Deal-Would-Have-Sole-Paulding-Judge-Candidate-Withdraw#ixzz2vxslHuvq

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    Don’t know if this means she can’t apply at the end of the year when he dad retires or not. What it does mean is that the Governor and not the voters will decide who the next judge will be. Not to sure I’m overly happy about that. But the judge and his daughter gamed the system to exclude the voters’ input as well so…meh

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