Judge, sheriff candidates speak
By LOUIE BROGDON
The Brunswick News
More than 1,200 of the 7,500 backlogged civil or criminal cases pending in Glynn County State Court are more than five years old, and all five state court judge candidates know whoever wins the July 31 nonpartisan election has his work cut out for him.
And the two men seeking to be Glynn County's next sheriff come from different sides of the law enforcement spectrum, but both claim to be the man for the job.
The candidates met Thursday for a forum hosted by College of Coastal Georgia to field audience questions and share their views on the criminal justice system.
Judicial candidates Grant Buckley, Bart Altman, Alan Tucker, Vince Sowerby and Wallace Harrell III shared ways to relieve the existing case backlog and effectively manage a caseload destined to increase once new judicial rules go into effect.
Candidate Alan Tucker, the only candidate to indicate the court is currently not running properly, said his solution for relieving the backlog is simple.
"What it's going to take is a judge who's willing to go work for 40 to 50 hours a week, five days a week, (hold) night court. That's the only way this court's going to deal with it's backlog," Tucker said.
Candidates Harrell and Buckley said starting an out-of-court mediation program for civil cases would allow more criminal cases to be handled.
All agreed non-traditional sentencing measures for drug and alcohol abuse are the best ways to address crime.
"To solve the problem, you have to get to the root of it: Recidivism, that revolving door. As a judge, I believe it is my duty, if I get elected, to get to know each of those defendants - a little bit - get to know their situation and put them in a right direction to get help," candidate Sowerby said.
State court judges have a unique opportunity to give young, first-time offenders a chance to straighten up, candidate Altman said.
"There are some people you can give a hand or the hammer. With pretrial diversion, I'd rather give some of these first offenders, kids who just screwed up, a hand," he said.
Sheriff candidates Neal Jump and Ron Corbett mainly answered questions about the differences in their backgrounds.
Corbett, who is currently the undersheriff, has a background largely in jail administration.
"I have a master's degree. Sometimes (in law enforcement) I feel like that's something I should be ashamed of. I'm not. I think we need someone in the sheriff's office who's educated and has administrative experience," Corbett said.
Jump, who is the sheriff's major in charge of deputy operations, says he has plenty of management experience.
"I have four more years (of administrative experience at the office) than Sheriff (Wayne) Bennett did when he was elected," Jump said. "I don't have a master's degree. I don't have higher education, but I have common sense, and I've been in law enforcement more than 35 years."