Two new judges will be sworn in next week to fill the superior court seats vacated in controversies earlier this year in the Enotah Judicial Circuit.
Raymond George and Stan Gunter were appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal last week to fill the seats of superior court judges David E. Barrett and Lynn Akeley-Alderman, both of whom resigned in March.
Barrett resigned after reports surfaced that he pulled out a pistol in court, apparently to make a rhetorical point.
Akeley-Alderman resigned amid an ethics investigation into whether she improperly used her position to influence the case of a Gainesville man convicted of drug charges. She was not the presiding judge.
However, George, a Dahlonega attorney with 20 years of trial experience, said those distractions aren’t his concern moving forward.
“That’s past history. My job is to do the best I can as a Superior Court judge,” said George, who has worked as chief assistant district attorney in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit.
Gunter served as district attorney in the Enotah Judicial Circuit for 12 years and is the executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council.
The appointments are welcome news for the Enotah Circuit, which has been operating for nearly two months with only one full-time judge.
“Both (appointees) have excellent track records in every aspect of their legal records. I think they will be a real asset to the superior court bench,” said Steve Ferrell, the 9th District court administrator.
Since the former judges stepped down, the court system has relied on senior judges, who are semiretired and essentially serve as part-time substitutes.
The assignment of full-time judges will assist the circuit’s Chief Superior Court Judge Mike Miller and the court’s support staff, said Ferrell.
“It’s crucial in every aspect of organizational design,” he said.
The judges will be sworn in on Thursday, but there will continue to be a transitional period.
The senior judges who have presided over some cases could remain with them until they are complete.
“Once a senior judge has heard part of a case, it’s in everybody’s best interest for them to continue to hear it,” Ferrell said.
Meanwhile, the new judges will work to get accustomed to their jobs.
George is in the process of shutting down his practice, which is required to take the position.
He and Gunter will also be in the market for judicial robes, which Ferrell said are not supplied by the circuit but paid for by the judges.
Like a decent business suit, judicial robes can run several hundred dollars a piece, according to online vendors.