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Probate Court adds associate judge as caseloads continue to rise
06162022 PROBATE
Mark Loggins was sworn in June 8 as an associate Probate Court judge. Provided by Hall County

With caseloads continuing to rise, Hall County Probate Court added a second judge through funds in the American Rescue Plan Act.

Mark Loggins, of Gainesville, was sworn in as an associate judge June 8. He received his law degree from Georgia State University and has practiced law locally since 2011, according to a Hall County news release.

According to statistics included in the county’s funding request, Probate Court saw more than a 30% jump in the number of new cases compared to pre-pandemic levels, growing from 651 new filings in 2019 to 857 new cases in 2021.

Probate Court Judge Patty Walters Laine said there have already been 475 new estates opened this year. In 2021, the court did not see that many new cases until July 29, Laine said.

“Everybody comes here to retire,” Laine said regarding the continued increase of estate cases.

Laine said she intends to split things equally with Loggins, though she will handle any cases that he worked on while in his private practice in this field.

“He, obviously, is no longer on any cases in the court, because the law would never allow that,” Laine said. “But I’ll hear anything that he’s ever touched as an attorney.”

The Times reached out to Loggins for comment, but that request was not returned.

In the past, Laine taking a vacation or attending a training would create a logjam. Now, the office will still have a judge should she need to step away from the bench.

Laine said Loggins will have a full-time position, though he is technically part-time right now.

“The law allows you to practice law in any court except the one where you sit if you’re a part-time judge, and he still has some cases to wrap up from his private practice that are in other courts besides Hall County Probate Court,” Laine said.

Laine said Loggins’ position is a permanent addition to the court, as county management has seen the need for a second judge.

“With ARPA funding, we anticipate Judge Laine renewing that request in 2023 for that position to be funded from ARPA,” court administrator Jason Stephenson said.