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Hall Countys solicitor seeks new judgeship
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Hall County Solicitor-General Larry Baldwin will seek an interview with Gov. Sonny Perdue in hopes of being appointed to a newly created third State Court judgeship, the prosecutor announced Saturday.

Baldwin, 39, Hall County’s chief prosecutor of misdemeanors since 2004, has long been expected to pursue the judgeship, which was created this year through local legislation passed in the General Assembly.

Baldwin, a Republican, made the brief announcement during Saturday morning’s Hall County Conservative Forum. The judgeship is a nonpartisan post.

"I’ve appreciated over the last 10 years being able to work on behalf of the people of Hall County and I’m excited about the opportunity to take this next step and be a state court judge and try to continue to serve our county," Baldwin said after the forum.

Hall County currently has two state court judges: Chief Judge Charles Wynne and B.E. Roberts. The judges hear misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic offenses and civil lawsuits, among other duties. A third judgeship was created after a recent study determined that Wynne and Roberts had the caseload of 3.7 judges.

The new county-funded judgeship will pay an annual salary of $157,000. Another $163,000 was budgeted by the county for support staff and office expenses. County officials expect the position to pay for itself through fines and fees collected in the court. Last year, Hall County’s state court brought in $3.4 million.

Baldwin is the first local attorney to make his interest in the judgeship publicly known. The state Judicial Nominating Commission sent out a letter to members of the local bar this month requesting nominations to the post by June 24. Nominees must submit questionnaires to the panel by July 14 and the commission will interview applicants on July 21. A short list will be sent to the governor sometime after that.

Perdue could interview between two and five nominees for the judgeship before making the appointment. The new judge would then stand for re-election in 2010 for a full four-year term.

If Baldwin were to win the appointment, it would create a vacancy in the Solicitor-General’s office, also an elected position. Perdue would have to appoint a prosecutor to serve out the next two years before the appointee stood for election in 2010.

A number of local attorneys are believed to be interested in the solicitor’s position.