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Baldwin appointed state court judge

Judgeship was added by state legislature this year

POSTED: September 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hall County Solicitor-General Larry Baldwin was named to a newly-created third state court judgeship Thursday by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Baldwin, 39, won out over five other local nominees, including fellow finalist Ann Shuler. Both lawyers interviewed with the governor on August 29.

Baldwin said he was "excited and humbled" when he received the governor’s call Thursday morning.

"I’m really looking forward to working for the people of Hall County in this new capacity as state court judge," Baldwin said.

Baldwin’s swearing-in has not yet been scheduled. Under Georgia law, his chief assistant solicitor, Jennifer Scalia, would assume the duties of interim Solicitor-General for Hall County at the time Baldwin is sworn in.

Baldwin was considered the front-runner for the new judgeship, which was created by an act of the state legislature this year after a study determined that judges Charles Wynne and B.E. Roberts carried the caseload of 3.7 judges.

State court judges hear misdemeanor criminal and civil cases, including the majority of traffic offenses, DUIs and domestic violence cases in Hall County. There was a 47 percent increase in Hall County criminal and traffic cases between 2005 and 2007, with more than 17,000 traffic cases last year and more than 8,000 misdemeanor criminal cases.

Hall County is funding the new judgeship’s costs of $320,000, which includes $157,000 for the judge’s salary. The post is expected to pay for itself through court revenues from fines and fees paid by defendants. Last year the court took in $3.4 million for the county’s general fund.

Baldwin, a graduate of Florida State University and Emory School of Law, has worked for 10 years in the solicitor’s office, the last four as the elected solicitor-general. He ran for solicitor as a Republican. State court judge is a non-partisan post.

Baldwin said he’s enjoyed helping people during his past 10 years as a prosecutor.

"As state court judge, I will get more opportunities to help, by hearing both criminal and civil cases," Baldwin said. "It’s a new and exciting challenge for me professionally."

The appointment will last through 2010, when Baldwin will stand for election by Hall County voters.

This year Wynne, the chief state court judge, faces opposition in his re-election bid from local attorney Sonny Sikes.

Baldwin’s appointment opens up another political race for solicitor-general, the county’s top prosecutor of misdemeanors. Perdue will appoint a successor at some time in the future, with that person later standing for election. Several local attorneys are believed to be interested in the job.

 



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