Name: W. Gene Richardson
Occupation: Chief Magistrate
What qualifications do you bring to the role of chief magistrate?
I was appointed as Chief Magistrate in 2010 by the Superior Court judges and the citizens have reelected me for two additional terms. I have operated the Magistrate Court in a legal, professional, effective and efficient manner.
I have been a member of the State Bar of Georgia in good standing since 1974 and practiced law in this community for 36 years before being appointed as Chief Magistrate. I received my BBA from Georgia State University and my law degree from ALS. I served as chief Municipal Court judge for the City of Rome for approximately eight years before being appointed Chief Magistrate. I have also served as judge pro tem for the Superior Court judges, as associate Probate Court judge and as Juvenile Court judge. I have the legal knowledge and judicial experience to ensure Magistrate Court is operated in a legal and professional manner.
Explain what the court does and why you want this position.
Magistrate Court handles over 14,000 cases a year with approximately half being civil and half criminal. Magistrate Court has a budget close to $600,000 and we have been within or under budget every year I have been Chief Magistrate.
Magistrate judges sign arrest and search warrants, hear preliminary cases, some misdemeanor cases and ordinance violations — including litter cases which gives protection to our environment, animal control cases to protect our animals and restitution hearings to assist victims of crime and fraud. We hold first appearance and bond hearings daily. Civil, dispossessory, garnishment, personal property foreclosure, abandoned motor vehicles, mobile home cases and numerous others are handled through Magistrate Court.
Magistrate Court’s excellent staff provides great service to the citizens of Floyd County. As your Chief Magistrate judge I have strived to ensure this court is one our citizens can be proud of and ask for your vote and support.
How will you change operations, to adapt to COVID-19 and/or in other ways?
On March 14, Justice Melton issued a Judicial Emergency Order suspending all court cases except for “essential services.” We are prohibited, by law, from scheduling any civil or criminal hearings until the order expires on June 12.
There is a backlog of cases and we understand the backlog will grow. Action has been taken to address this issue. Additional court sessions will be added, from holding two dispossessory court sessions to six and increasing two civil court sessions to five each week.
Magistrate Court is working with the sheriff’s office to ensure our court complies with all requirements of the Department of Public Health, guaranteeing court is safe for all citizens.
I, as your Chief Magistrate, ask the citizens of Floyd County to understand I must comply with the law and we are doing everything in our power to put the court back to work for our citizens.
Endorsements: Sheriff Tim Burkhalter; Tax Commissioner Kevin Payne; Mayor Rob Ware, Cave Spring; State Rep. Katie Dempsey; Rome City Commissioners Jamie Doss, Wendy Davis, Jim Bojo, Randy Quick; Floyd County school board members Tony Daniel, Jay Shell, Chip Hood, Melinda Jeffers, Melinda Strickland; Rome City school board member Alvin Jackson; John Mayes, former county commissioner; Bryan Shealy, former county school board chairman; former chief magistrate Jerry Wood; Barry Henderson, former county coroner; Jim Ford, former tax commissioner; Howard “Buzz” Wachsteter, former Rome commissioner; Ed Hine, former state senator; David Doss, former county commissioner.