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Lack of diversity on juvenile court bench concerns some

Appointments leave no blacks on bench

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Last week’s appointment of three full-time juvenile court judges has raised concerns about the loss of the court’s diversity.



In 2007, the Augusta Judicial Circuit’s eight Superior Court judges broke nearly a century of tradition by appointing four part-time judges to a post traditionally filled by one full-time judge in Richmond County. The judges tapped two black men to fill half the seats: Willie Saunders and Ben Allen.

Both Saunders and Allen were reappointed in 2008 for the full four-year terms, but they were not brought back for second terms last week.

By keeping two incumbents, Judges Jenni­fer McKinzie and Doug Flanagan, and bringing in a new judge, Pamela James, there are no longer any black juvenile court judges.

Allen said the majority of young men and women coming through juvenile court, particularly in Richmond County, are black. It is important to have someone they can identify with on the bench, Allen said, because it encourages them and the community.

“It makes a difference,” he said. The judges “should have found a way to find someone of color for the bench.”

A message left for Saunders was not returned. Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet was out of town and unavailable for comment, his secretary said.

Asked about the racial makeup of the court, Flanagan said he doesn’t see it as a black and white issue. Each judge is qualified and brings insight and experience to the job, he said.

The longtime judge for Richmond County was Herbert E. Kernaghan Jr., who died in November 2006. His position was replaced by four people in January 2007, which brought a total of seven juvenile court judges in the circuit, including Bill Sams and Preston Lewis in Burke County.

Sams was not reappointed in 2008 and James, who served for a year on juvenile court, withdrew her application. Lewis died in 2011.

McKinzie said she is excited about the opportunities presented by becoming a full-time juvenile court judge. She expects to become more visible in the community over the next four years and to implement new school programs.

“It’s a great honor and a great responsibility,” McKinzie said.

The longtime pattern was one judge for each county of the circuit: Richmond, Burke and Columbia.

Flanagan, for instance, has maintained a high profile in Columbia County for a dozen years. He is a regular speaker at Columbia County schools, where bomb threats written on bathroom walls and glued locks make headlines.

Flanagan said he is an active speaker in the community because he wants to keep young people out of his courtroom.

He also wants more participation from the community, particularly now that he has more time as a full-time judge.

Flanagan wants it known that “juvenile court is open to partnering with any civic or religious organization.”

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Just My Opinion
6251
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Just My Opinion 09/17/12 - 03:56 am
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0
So, let me get this

So, let me get this straight...the idea is to have more black judges so the black criminals can "identify" with them, and they can feel they will be equally judged, and not discriminated against, right? So that means 2 things...that any white criminals that come through that have a black judge assigned to them might feel discriminated against, but that's just too bad for him...and it implies that only black judges can be honest and worthy of providing true justice. The bottom line is that the blacks who are complaining want fair and equal justice....nothing wrong with that!....but they feel that only a black judge will give them that. What makes them think that a white judge wouldn't give them fair and equal justice? Maybe they should think about all that BEFORE they commit the crime?

Dixieman
17266
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Dixieman 09/17/12 - 04:02 am
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What have we become?

The only diversity that matters is intellectual diversity. USA is today like South Africa, classifying and assigning people by race. Stop the madness.

soapy_725
44107
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soapy_725 09/17/12 - 05:32 am
0
1
How about 65/35 representation on everything?
Unpublished

Commissions, boards, public servants, churches, schools, business employees, government employees, sports teams, prison inmates, community volunteers, blood donors, home owners, tax payers, high school graduates, college graduates, etc.

We could hire ADP to micromanages the system. We could resurrect Solomon to do the "halves". Fred could draw up the contract. Deke will go to the beach. Joe will vote for it even though he knows it is insane and sue the city later. Many on the commission will think it white scam and vote against it, later to change their votes.

constituent
164
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constituent 09/17/12 - 05:32 am
1
2
Bias is alive and well in

Bias is alive and well in Richmond County Judicial Court System need to be probe. The Superior court judges are locking up more blacks than whites for the same offense in Richmond County. We need more black Superior Court judges in Richmond County. Augusta District Attorney's office need to be revamp. I'm still puzzled about the sentencing of Attorney Joe Neal Jr ,who is white, was facing three felony charges( for rape, illegal use of drugs and others) and made a plea deal with Ashley Wright ( Augusta District Attorney) and went in front of a white Superior Court judge and reduced his violent felony charges to misdemeanor, a slap on the wrist.

soapy_725
44107
Points
soapy_725 09/17/12 - 05:34 am
0
1
Love can change all of this
Unpublished

Love in the mentoring stage, love in the arrest stage, love in judgement stage and love in the incarceration stage.

Riverman1
93338
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Riverman1 09/17/12 - 05:53 am
1
1
Black voting strength will

Black voting strength will soon start to change EVERYTHING. This is an anomaly. Just being factual.

Little Lamb
48888
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Little Lamb 09/17/12 - 06:32 am
2
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Disturbing Thought

From the article, here's a quote from outgoing juvenile court judge Ben Allen:

The judges “should have found a way to find someone of color for the bench.”

Allen sounds like he wants to choose people by the color of their skin, not the content of their character.

Little Lamb
48888
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Little Lamb 09/17/12 - 06:40 am
2
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Context

Constituent's puzzlement about Joe Neal's treatment by the courts deserves some reflection and comment. The case reminds me of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. In that case, Clinton lied under oath in an affidavit in a legal proceding. Normally, that would be a high crime, i.e., perjury. But Clinton's lawyer successfully argued that lying about sex is not really lying and, hence, no perjury was committed.

The Neal case involved plying an 18-year-old with wine and marijuana, normally felony charges. The Clinton precedent applied. Plying an 18-year-old with wine and marijuana while seeking sex is not really illegal under the Clinton loophole.

JRC2024
10381
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JRC2024 09/17/12 - 07:31 am
4
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Just do not do the crime and

Just do not do the crime and you will not have to worry about the judges. That is pretty simple isn't it? Constituent, who is commiting the most crimes in Augusta.

seenitB4
97020
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seenitB4 09/17/12 - 08:03 am
4
1
Race

Why is everything about race??????

Willow Bailey
20605
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Willow Bailey 09/17/12 - 08:19 am
3
2
There is a juvenile division

There is a juvenile division for a purpose. Minors are highly influenced and still moldable. The mission of this court should be different than adult court.

scgator
1042
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scgator 09/17/12 - 08:23 am
2
1
Double Standard

Why is is that if a "non" minority mentions anything about skin color, they are right away branded as racist and anything they say or do is ridiculed; but when a minority mentions that color "should be a factor", they are applauded..............what has happened to the "person who best meets the qualifications for the job". In reality, the liberals viewpoint is " whomever has the best qualifications, out of the group that we want you to pick from. Liberal politics is incapable of making an honest opinion that is totally neutral for all. If I tell someone that I am not voting democrat, they automatically brand me "rich republican" siding with big business and ALWAYS against the poor working class. Liberals do not have, or do not want to "think and analyze for themselves. It is too easy to let others tell you what to do or how to react.............and that is why our country is in the shape it is in today..............."people" will not think for themselves and take the time to analyze a platform. AND this goes for both sides D & R, never let someone do your thinking for you.

In the above news article, it should really read........."unless we (the concerned) have a minority presence on the bench, then we will NOT trust the rest of the judges to be fair and impartial according to the law; we will ONLY trust a minority judge (because being a "minority" gives them better integrity and analysis of the law)................Why don't we just do it this way liberals..............Black judges for black offenders, and White judges for white offenders !...............you would STILL find fault with that, if they did not rule they way you wanted. That is the liberal in you; and liberalism is harder to ignore than color.

urright
465
Points
urright 09/17/12 - 10:03 am
1
0
Judge Saunders

We all know why Willie Saunders wasn't reappointed. He had the gall to go against Judge Overstreet. I don't know why Allen wasn't re-appointed. They both seemed to be fair and competent judges during their terms. I'm hoping it was a political thing, not a racial thing.

itsanotherday1
48179
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itsanotherday1 09/17/12 - 11:18 am
1
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Constiuent, are you just

Constiuent, are you just opining or do you have specific examples of bias?

itsanotherday1
48179
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itsanotherday1 09/17/12 - 11:20 am
2
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"We all know why Willie

"We all know why Willie Saunders wasn't reappointed. He had the gall to go against Judge Overstreet."

Like you, I hope it is political because I was under the impression Willie is a pretty competent and fair man.

rebellious
21814
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rebellious 09/17/12 - 12:17 pm
3
0
Amazing

The very act of discrimination is encouraged in some instances and condemned in others.

Little Lamb had it right:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

The race card continues to be played even though we claim to strive towards a color blind society. What difference does the color of one's skin matter, unless of course we are talking about the Miss Black America or USA pageant.

Little Lamb
48888
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Little Lamb 09/17/12 - 01:49 pm
1
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Deadlines

I'm sure reporter Kyle Martin was assigned this story and was given a deadline by his editor. The problem I have with it is this: this is not breaking news. It's really not news at all; it's a personal concern story. The story would have been more complete if the editor had given Martin time to get statements from Overstreet and Saunders. Then we would not have had to read:

A message left for Saunders was not returned. Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet was out of town and unavailable for comment, his secretary said.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 09/17/12 - 02:36 pm
3
0
You want more judges

... of colour on the bench? That's easy: broaden the pool of lawyers of colour. How? By telling black youth they actually can be someone other than a drug dealer; force them to get an education; point out that there are black men who've come out of where they are now to achieve. Quit providing excuses and accepting a lower standard because of skin colour. Then, perhaps, you will have black men and women at the bar in numbers sufficient to go on to the bench. Until then, private firms will be snatching them up at high salaries as gilt-edged rarities.

RaceAlwaysMatters
30
Points
RaceAlwaysMatters 09/17/12 - 02:46 pm
0
2
I am really laughing over these posts

This site is always so full of it. There are racial comments, particularly when they are related to crime and criminals in this community on this board EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not a day goes by that the ugly head of racism is raise on this site by one or more of the posters. So I find it so funny that the same ones who are always making awful racial comments...are the main one today hollaring that "race doesn't or shouldn't matter. That is crap and we all know it. Race matters always. But people who are striving for diversity know that color matters. We are NOT nor will we ever be a color-blind society. Therefore, we must do all that we can to make sure that all are included. Mr. Allen is correct in his statement. I take it one step further Richmond County, Columbia county and the surrounding couties are made up of totally white residents. But, from the picture that has been painted at all levels of law enforcement in our community...the criminals are black and the people in charge of the judicial system/the police department are white. Folks have and continue to ignore the fact that that situations like this happen because of how the deck has always been stacked since the founding of this country, in favor of the majority (white people). No Double standard exsists here...it is what it is... race does now and will always matter in the decisions that are made in this country. It is those who know this and make an effort to go above what is expected and do the unexpected.

AutumnLeaves
10234
Points
AutumnLeaves 09/17/12 - 03:47 pm
2
0
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr. must be rolling over in his jail that prejudiced people are STILL demanding jobs to be filled based on race and not the content of a person's character and qualifications. Diversity is also not a matter of simply black and white, there is religion, gender, and OTHER races that could very well be included in this diversity if you really want to nitpik about such a superficial, irrelevant factor as diversity that has little or nothing to do with doing a good job in this position.

rebellious
21814
Points
rebellious 09/17/12 - 05:18 pm
4
0
Diversity my butt!

Hey, here is a novel concept. Let's hire. promote, fire and otherwise select people based on their ability and skills. That way the best person is in the job, or not in the job. I am sick to death of ratios, diversity, and quotas. More of this group need to be included so we favor them to get the numbers up. We broke up neighborhood schools in the 70s by busing children to schools in neighborhoods where they knew no one and shared nothing culturally with their classmates. We promote beyond a persons capability for the sake of diversity and wind up with people unqualified and underperforming. Good Grief, where is the common sense in society today?

Gage Creed
19382
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Gage Creed 09/17/12 - 05:49 pm
2
0
"I take it one step further

"I take it one step further Richmond County, Columbia county and the surrounding couties are made up of totally white residents. But, from the picture that has been painted at all levels of law enforcement in our community...the criminals are black and the people in charge of the judicial system/the police department are white."

Really? Richmond County and Columbia County are made up of totally white residents? That must be some primo weed....

griff6035
4279
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griff6035 09/17/12 - 07:12 pm
0
0
Race

The race war is coming, its just a matter of time.

Austin Rhodes
2970
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Austin Rhodes 09/17/12 - 08:21 pm
0
0
Don't blame me...

...I voted for Willie! Tax debts can be paid...left wing weeniehood is forever.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 09/18/12 - 04:31 pm
1
0
As arianna puffington, excuse me, huffington
Unpublished

would scream, "WHITE SOUTHERN RACISM AT ITS FINEST". Minorities will do so, also. When seeking a judgeship, qualifications should override "affirmative action". America will be spelled Afghanistan or Kenya in the not too distant future.

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