Perspective on Georgia judges

Posted March 7, 2013 by Alex H. Morrow

Citizens of Georgia need to be aware that the fact a person is sitting behind a bench in the courtroom wearing a judge’s robe does not mean that person is a well qualified attorney.  Our judges, state and superior court is what I’m talking about, are elected by popular vote or, in some instances, appointed by the governor.  So, think about it, the person sitting as a judge on your case has won a popularity contest, i.e., has been elected, to serve as judge.  Or, the person sitting as a judge on your case has been appointed by the governor to serve as judge.  A person elected by the people of the community has just won that position because his or her face was on the most billboards in the area, nothing more.  His or her election to the position of judge has nothing to do with his or her qualification to serve as judge.

I have personally seen judges appointed by the governor who were definitely not the most qualified candidate for the judgeship when the pool of candidates was objectively considered.  The governor made his selection based on political considerations of one sort or another, it was not a selection based on the quality of the candidates.

So, you can have a judge in your case who has won a popularity contest or one who was appointed to the position for political reasons.  In neither case has a qualified person necessarily been placed behind the bench in judicial robes.  Sometimes the consequence can be horrible, absolutely irrational rulings in a case.

But, take heart.  Often, a candidate who is less than qualified to be a judge, once elected or appointed, can, in fact, become an excellent judge if he or she applies himself or herself  to learning the position and wielding their power with care and great discretion.  I have seen that dynamic at play and I’m happy to state that most of the time this is the end result.  I believe it is because most attorneys who aspire to a position of leadership, like that of judge, have good self esteem and are generally honorable people.  As such, they want to do a good job in the position they occupy.

But, don’t be too dismayed with your counsel if the judge in the case renders a decision that makes no sense whatsoever.  Attorneys practicing in court have to apply their trade in front of the judge who is assigned to the case and the quality of the outcome is often outside of the control of your counsel in spite of his or her best efforts.