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Hall could get fifth Superior Court judge next year
Rep. Lee Hawkins sees 'no impediment' to request for additional judge
Lee Hawkins
State Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville

A bill introduced last week in the Georgia General Assembly would add a fifth Superior Court judge to the circuit covering Hall and Dawson counties.

Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, is sponsoring House Bill 138 along with other members from the Hall and Dawson delegations in the state House of Representatives.

Hall County Court Administrator Reggie Forrester said the Judicial Council of Georgia uses a formula based on caseloads for the judges in a given circuit.

“They look at all the time they spend and the work hours, and it came back that their work hours qualified them for 5.39 judges,” Hawkins said.

According to the 2015 caseload report data, Hall County had 3,138 criminal cases and 2,800 civil cases. The criminal caseload is broken down into serious felonies, felonies, misdemeanors, death penalty cases and probation revocations.

For the entire Northeastern Judicial Circuit, the judges had 7,559 civil and criminal cases on the 2015 caseload.

Hawkins said he sees “no impediment” for the bill to move forward. The Northeastern Judicial Circuit qualified for an additional judge a few years ago, but allowed another circuit to go ahead of it, Hawkins said.

“I think it’s come to a point now that they really need the fifth judge,” he said.

The effective date for the bill is Jan. 1, 2018. The additional judge would be appointed by the governor for a term continuing through Dec. 31, 2020.

There would then be a nonpartisan judicial election in 2020.