The commission sent Gov. Nathan Deal two candidates to replace Judge Jerry Daniel who died on Jan. 30 — Jackson E. Cox, who is the solicitor of the Burke County State Court, and Jesse C. Stone, managing attorney of Merrill & Stone and a state senator for District 23.
Cox has served as the solicitor-general since 2001, and has a private law practice in Waynesboro. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law cum laude in 1995.
Stone has practiced law since graduating from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1981. He has also represented Senate District 23 since 2010 and previously served as mayor of Waynesboro from 2003 until 2008.
In their questionnaires submitted to the Judicial Nominating Committee and forwarded to the governor, the candidates were asked to describe how a judge might improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the legal system.
Cox wrote, “Specially scheduling hearings or grouping similar cases together on the calendar would minimize the amount of time which citizens spend sitting around a courtroom.
“Also, it is necessary to spend time finding out the fine details of a crime or the background of a case in order to issue a ruling or shape a sentence in a fair and just fashion. One of the advantages of a small county jurisdiction is that the information about criminal defendants is more readily gathered at times and perhaps is already known. Many times family members will accompany a criminal defendant to court seeking help for an ongoing addiction. The accountability courts provide an excellent resource, and their results are evident and tangible throughout the county and state..”
Among the things Stone said he would do are: “I would work hard to rule on motions quickly (particularly summary judgment motions). I would confer with other judges across the state to avoid sentencing disparities. I would make myself available for phone conferences with litigants and would schedule emergency hearings on an expedited basis. I would encourage and participate in forums between attorneys and other regular participants in the judicial process (particularly staff associated with DUI/drug court, domestic violence, and mental health court divisions).”