A few years ago, I was standing in a courtroom with my friends and family behind me as I was sworn in as a lawyer in this great state. The judge who swore me in and signed my certificate was Judge John Simpson.
Over the years, I have tried cases, argued motions, and had interesting conversations with Judge Simpson. This week, I got to sit down with him again to discuss his new role as the Chief Judge of the Coweta Judicial Circuit.
John Simpson has a lengthy record of public service. As a young lawyer, he clerked for the late Judge Jackson in Troup County. Later, he served for a decade in the Georgia House of Representatives. In 1996, after the retirement of Judge Dewey Smith, he won a contested election for superior court judge.
With the retirement of the southern gentleman, Judge Quillian Baldwin, John Simpson now become our new chief judge. He will lead the largest judicial district in our area.
His leadership not only affects the people of the Coweta Judicial Circuit (Carroll, Coweta, Troup, Heard, Meriwether), but those people living and working in the surrounding counties like Douglas, Haralson, and Paulding.
So, how does this affect the people of west Georgia?
First, I should note that the General Assembly has provided a number of responsibilities for chief judges around the state. These include, but are not limited to, being the spokesperson for the judicial branch of the circuit, serving on a number of committees (for example, the child abuse protocol committee), appointing some judges and other officials under certain circumstances, and many other duties too numerous to list.
However, Judge Simpson says that two of the most important aspects of his new role is that of a communicator and listener. “We have five other talented superior court judges in our circuit (another to be appointed by Gov. Deal in the next few months). We will continue to have regular meetings to ensure that the judicial case load is evenly divided amongst the judges in order to provide for the fairest administration of justice.”
Some of the most important, but not well known, aspects of our local judicial system will be maintained and grow in the years to come.
Simpson will continue to serve as the judge for the local drug court. He strongly believes in the value of having operational drug courts within the circuit.
He will also continue to serve as the judge for the Parental Accountability Court. This court is particularly important to Simpson and many others in the community because it takes financially delinquent parents out of county jails and puts them back to work to provide for their families. This benefits our community, particularly children. Additionally, taxpayers are rewarded because of the significant decrease in the cost of incarceration.
I also asked him about something that I strongly believe in; mental health courts. Troup County already has a functional and thriving mental health court. When asked about expanding these courts throughout the circuit, he said, “In Carroll County, we have already been meeting with the probate judge, sheriff, and other officials who have a stake in the creation of a mental health court. We are optimistic that a mental health court will be a reality in the near future. As with any judicial project of this magnitude, proper planning, budgeting, and coordination must be well established in the beginning.”
Lastly, I wanted for Judge Simpson to tell me how he felt about his new leadership role and the future of west Georgia. “Gratitude. I am grateful to have the opportunity to serve our people in this capacity. We are fortunate to live in such a thriving community.”
I am grateful to live in west Georgia as well. Unlike many places, we have quality legislators, local government leaders, and the people who are willing to serve.
I am excited and optimistic about the future of our area and the way that we improve every day.