On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to interview the newest and 7th superior court judge of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, Travis Sakrison.
Last year, the General Assembly recognized that with the steady growth in our population, a new judgeship was needed to serve our community. In January of this year, Governor Deal appointed Sakrison to fill that position.
Judge Sakrison brings a diverse resume to the bench. After graduating from law school, he clerked for Judge John Ellington at the Georgia Court of Appeals. Soon thereafter, Sakrison would heed the calling to be in the courtroom as a prosecuting attorney. He tried a number of felony cases as an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County over a 5 year period. After that, he became the Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney in DeKalb Co. Sakrison prosecuted felony and misdemeanor cases for a decade.
However, his next challenge would place him in charge of the statewide system of indigent defense. As executive director of the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council (GPDSC), Sakrison took over a large agency in need of leadership, funding, and relationship building with state lawmakers.
During his more than four years at the GPDSC, Sakrison succeeded in bringing the type of leadership that was needed. Last year at the General Assembly, Sakrison successfully advocated for a budget of about $43 million for the current fiscal year ending on June 30, which was several million dollars above what the state had collected through indigent defense funds. This raise was primarily based on better communication between the GPDSC and lawmakers. Additionally, last year Governor Deal granted Sakrison's request for additional funds to hire outside counsel in conflict-of-interest cases, providing the GPDSC with an additional $4 million.
As a panel conflict-of-interest attorney for the GPDSC, I can personally attest to the vast improvements I have witnessed during his tenure. The agency has received the much needed funding for public defenders across the state and conflict attorneys like myself, has streamlined operations for easy communication with attorneys, and has attracted some of the top notch employees in our state.
The GPDSC issued a press release shortly after Governor Deal named Sakrison as the next superior court judge. "He will be leaving GPDSC with a more accountable, efficient and stronger public defender system, a successfully reorganized agency, and a state-appropriated budget that has increased by 30 percent."
While Sakrison has been successful throughout his legal career, the challenge of serving as a superior court judge is a daunting one. You must make decisions that significantly affect the lives of many people on a daily basis. Handing down prison sentences, deciding custody battles, and protecting the rights of the people in criminal and civil matters are just a few of the duties of a judge.
Judge Sakrison seems to be up the task. During our interview, he was upbeat, confident, and very open about his views of what a judge should be.
He believes that judges should be fair, possess a calm and respectful temperament, and interpret the law as it is written by lawmakers. He also believes that a good judge must have the heart of a public servant.
For now, Judge Sakrison is settling into his new job. But, he is already busy handling cases. In fact, he and the other six judges have recently received their new caseload calendars. I hope that they will keep me busy in court for many years to come.
As for Judge Sakrison, I believe that the people of our community will be well served by this balanced, successful, and honorable man.