Overstreet, 66, serves as the chief judge of the district made up of Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties. He was appointed to office in 1991 by then-Gov. Zell Miller to fill the unexpired term of retiring Superior Court Judge Franklin Pierce. Overstreet won an election for the seat the following year.
He became chief judge in 2008, succeeding Superior Court Judge William Fleming.
He said his desire to help the community and passion for law is what encourages him to continue his career in the justice system.
“You keep in the back of your mind you’re trying to improve society,” Overstreet said. “No matter what you do, people don’t always agree with you, but you’ve got to be committed yourself.”
In his 20 years on the bench, Overstreet said the most memorable was the 1999 trial of attorney William Lumpkin, whom he sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a real estate agent.
“It was a very involved case,” Overstreet said, noting the breadth of science used as evidence, including a fingerprint on a roll of saran wrap to prove Lumpkin’s location.
During his time in the courts, Overstreet said he has seen social changes in the city where he works. Compared with the early 1990s, the city has more drug crimes and incidents such as burglaries and robberies being connected to drugs, he said.
“In ’91, it wasn’t necessarily like that,” Overstreet said. “As far as the criminal justice system goes, that’s probably the biggest influence I’ve seen on it.”
Among his work in Augusta, Overstreet has led the creation of a mediation program, endorsed accountability and treatment courts, coordinated safety plans for the three courthouses, and helped plan the judicial center and John H. Ruffin, Jr. Courthouse.
“I’ve been on the bench for 20 years, and I’ve practiced law for 20 years so I’ve had some challenges, but I’m looking forward to another four years,” he said.