Local News

2/24/2012

Judge will not seek new term

By LOUIE BROGODON

The Brunswick News

One Brunswick lawyer is already stepping forward to become Glynn County's next State Court judge, as Judge Orion Douglass says he will not seek re-election after 20 years on the bench.

Vince Sowerby has announced his intention to seek election in July to the judgeship that will be open when Douglass' term ends this year.

Douglass said in a prepared statement Thursday that he will not seek a sixth term, but he hopes to serve as a senior judge to help manage the court's ever-increasing caseload.

Since he took the bench in 1992, Douglass said he has seen the court's criminal caseload increase from about 11,000 cases annually to more than 18,000 in 2010. The civil caseload has also spiked, going from 312 cases a year in the early 1990s to more than 1,000 cases recently, Douglass said.

While Douglass has been on the bench, he said Glynn County's population has changed drastically, and the change has prompted more demands on the court.

"With the establishment of (College of Coastal Georgia) as a four-year institution, and the other changes in the Glynn County community, the demographics of Glynn County will continue to change and evolve, and the dynamics of the court will have to keep pace. The addition of a second judgeship is going to become more and more necessary if present growth patterns continue," Douglass said.

Sowerby, who came from Atlanta in 1986 and has practiced law in Brunswick since, said he's interested in the judgeship because it's the "next logical step" and because he wants to do more for the community.

"I came from a family of lawyers. That's just what we do. (The judgeship) is the next logical step in my career," Sowerby said. "Plus, we need someone in that courthouse who can do the job, and I think I'm the guy for it."

Sowerby said he has many years of courtroom experience and has a strong understanding of state and federal law, he said. "I'm a general practice trial attorney. I do a little bit of everything."

Qualifying for the judgeship will be from May 23 to noon May 25, according to Glynn County Board of Elections Supervisor Cindy Johnson. The judicial election will be on a non-partisan ballot at the July 2 primaries, with a possible runoff Aug. 21 if no candidate wins outright with a majority of the vote, Johnson said.

Sowerby is currently the only announced candidate. He unsuccessfully sought an appointment to the Glynn County Superior Court judgeship that became vacant when judge Amanda Williams resigned Jan. 2 during an ethics investigation.