Clint Bearden is the newest judge on the Hall County Superior Court, having been appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal this week.
Bearden was most recently a Dawson County Magistrate Court judge and is a lawyer with the law office of Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. The new judge has a two-year term on the growing North Georgia court, after which he’ll have to be re-elected in a local election.
Bearden beat out Hall County State Court Judge Larry Baldwin II and Northeastern Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court Chief Judge Lindsay Burton for the fifth spot on the Superior Court.
He talked with The Times on Friday about the new position, his thoughts on Dawson County — where he was born — and which judges have shaped his career.
What led you to seek this appointment? What are your thoughts now that you have it?
I really became interested in becoming a judge over the past six to seven years of my practice, as I had clients that were able to participate in our state’s accountability court system. I would stay in touch with those clients and have attended many of their graduations, and that is an experience that is really a renewal of faith in our legal system and to me, really all that is right with the law.
It’s been the advancements and support of the accountability courts, which Gov. Deal has been a huge proponent of, and which judges across our state have devoted countless hours of their time, evenings and weekends to make possible, that really inspired me and motivated me to be a judge. It’s the opportunity to have a positive impact upon the lives of others and to improve the lives of those within our community.
I also felt that the skills and talents that God has blessed me with in my life could be put to great use in the role as a judge, to help serve the needs of the citizens of Hall and Dawson Counties.
I’m really honored to have earned the trust of Gov. Deal and it’s a great privilege to have the opportunity to serve the people of Hall and Dawson Counties as one of their Superior Court judges. I’m looking forward to working diligently and with an adherence to the law in the pursuit of justice to ensure a safe, bright and promising future for our citizens and their families.
How has your time as an attorney and magistrate prepared you for the Superior Court position?
In my time as an attorney, I’ve had the chance to practice in courts throughout 20 counties across North Georgia, handling a wide range of criminal and civil cases and getting valuable trial experience. I feel that the breadth of my practice and my courtroom experience has prepared me for the broad scope of subject matter that the Superior Court has jurisdiction over. As a magistrate judge, one of the greatest takeaways that I’ve gained from that experience has been working with litigants, often times pro se (unrepresented, non-attorney) parties, to hopefully explain why the laws of our state require a certain outcome and treat everyone in my court respectfully and with compassion, while ensuring that the laws are honored.
What are Dawson County’s problems, and how can you help solve them from the bench? What are the strengths (or weaknesses) of the Hall County and Dawson connection?
I think that the Northeastern Circuit is a fantastic circuit and it’s a great partnership between Hall and Dawson counties. We’re blessed to have great judges, a great court administrator, exceptional Clerks of Court in both counties, and just as importantly, county commissions in both counties that are supportive and understanding of the needs of the judiciary and have provided the resources to help ensure that the courts are operating fully and effectively.
Obviously one of the needs of both counties is that there is an increasing amount of cases in the legal system, which often times accompanies increases in population, so as the growth of Dawson and Hall Counties continue, that’s going to be an area that continues to be a focus, which is why the legislature created this additional position.
My goal is to help work with the other judges and ensure that cases are moving through the legal system efficiently and that attorneys and parties are able to resolve their cases in a timely manner.
Do you have any judges you look up to?
The current Superior Court judges in the Northeastern Circuit have been great inspirations for me to look up to, they have a great reputation throughout the legal profession across the state of Georgia.
Really, the judges of virtually all the courts in Dawson and Hall County are excellent judges — from Superior Court, to State Court, Juvenile Court, Magistrate Courts and Probate Courts. We’re blessed in our community to have judges that handled themselves professionally and ethically.
There are certain judges — oftentimes some of our state’s senior judges, who also really embody what I think about in a judge, judges like John Girardeau in the Northeastern Circuit, Hugh Stone formerly of the Enotah Circuit, who are just universally respected throughout the legal profession.