ATLANTA The experience of one Columbia County magistrate judge is clearing similar hurdles for others across the state after Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law legislation today that will allow magistrate judges called to military duty to remain in office.
Bobby Christine, the new Columbia County chief magistrate, is a National Guard major and two-tour Iraq War veteran. In January when he was an associate magistrate, he was appointed magistrate after newly-re-elected magistrate Wage Padgett was picked by the governor as a new Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge. Judge Christine previously was associate magistrate.
Enactment of House Bill 156, sets up parameters allowing any elected chief or magistrate judge, called on active duty, the ability to qualify as a candidate for re-election via mail, agent, or messenger sent to the proper elections official. Any acts required of the candidate while on military service, will be performed by an agent designated in writing by the absent judge.
This legislation passed unanimously in both the House and Senate because it was described as supporting members of the Armed Services and makes sure that service to their country does not impede upon their service to their communities.
"I applaud Governor Perdue's support of this legislation," said the bill's author, Rep. Ben Harbin, R-Evans. "These men and women are an integral part of our judicial system, and should not be hindered from seeking reelection while defending our nation."