Judge Richard Sutton

Current Polk County Superior Court Judge Richard Sutton has announced that he will not seek re-election to his current post.

His term will expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

Sutton said the reason for such an early announcement is due to the current state primary election schedule.

According to the State Elections Office, the primary election is tentatively planned for May 20, 2014 -- two months earlier than in previous years.

Because of the early election date, the qualifying period will take place March 3-7, 2014.

“I think it is only fair, given the compressed time, to go ahead and let those in the local bar [association] know that I am not offering for re-election," Sutton said.

"This will allow those interested a chance to get involved and make a decision."

Sutton was admitted to the state bar in 1966 and soon after, enlisted in the United States Army.

After returning home from military service, Sutton began practicing law in 1968, and continued for 32 years until his appointment to the bench, which, at the time, was a newly created position in the circuit.

Sutton began his service as Superior Court Judge on July 14, 2000.

Though Sutton has seen several transitions in the structure of the circuit -- which is now referred to as the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit -- he said one thing has remained the same: the quality and experience of the judges.

“We have been fortunate in this circuit that over the last 40 years, we have had people in office that have had a good bit of experience in courtroom work. Judges Dan Winn, Art Fudger, Bill Foster, Marion Cummings and Mike Murphy have all been well versed in those skills required for this type of legal endeavor. They have all been very even-handed, experienced trial lawyers,” he said.

It is Sutton’s desire to see that tradition continue.

“Lawyers have been comfortable to come here to practice law because they knew the quality of the court and the local bar. This is a job for someone that’s got the criteria needed to work with the bar and continue what we have in place,” Sutton said.

As to why he chose not to seek election again, Sutton said, “it was time to lay it down.”

“I will be 71 years old in one week and I’m ready to retire. I am looking forward to spending more time with my family.”

Sutton's successor will take office Jan. 1, 2015.