Questions about personal life part of Superior Court race

The election between Superior Court Judge Car­lisle Overstreet and challenger Willie Saunders has raised questions about the relevance of a judge’s personal life.



The issue started when Augusta attorney Jack Long filed a formal complaint with the state board of elections stating that Saunders’ failure to pay federal taxes disqualified him for running for public office. Long has acknowledged that he is friends with Overstreet, but he said that was unrelated to his challenge.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp eventually ruled that although Saunders owes more than $159,000 in federal taxes, his bankruptcy repayment plan meets the state law standard and he is qualified to run for office.

Saunders, who has been a juvenile court judge for six years, said he’s embarrassed by the attention to his bankruptcy, which he doesn’t consider relevant to the election. From his perspective, private financial issues do not affect how he handles his cases.

“I try to treat everyone with respect. I have no hidden agendas,” Saunders said.

Overstreet said voters should consider the decisions judges make in their private lives and how they deal with certain issues.

“They’re still going to be the same person,” he said.

Asked to clarify, he said that was not a direct reference to Saunders.

Both candidates share a vision of using their position for social reform.

Saunders envisions a collaboration with the community that addresses the roots of crime before one is ever committed. He said his six years on the bench mediating family issues and providing correction to young men and women have given him an intimate picture of how a dysfunctional home life contributes to delinquency.

“You can literally see this evolution,” Saunders said. “Neglected children evolve to be truant children … which evolves into delinquent acts, and that evolves into criminal activity.”

Saunders proposes developing community programs for young men that emphasize the importance of education and encourage them to stay in school.

Overstreet, the chief judge of the Augusta judicial circuit, said he has witnessed the evolution of the legal system over his 20 years on the Superior Court bench. More mandatory and minimum sentences have come into play, and the district attorney’s office provides more input on delivering a sentence. Ultimately, though, it still comes down to the judge, and Overstreet said he weighs the societal effects of locking away a defendant for life as much as the punishment aspect.

“There’s a moral decision that follows behind the law. Judges are more involved in those things,” Overstreet said.

Accountability courts have developed under Over­street’s watch. Drug court, for instance, focuses on treating addiction through intense probation and counseling as opposed to a jail sentence.

Overstreet points to his record of fiscal responsibility and streamlining court services as a reason to keep him on the bench.

“My record is open,” he said.

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Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 07/27/12 - 11:18 pm
2
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Perhaps, I am mistaken, but I

Perhaps, I am mistaken, but I understood that Judge Blanchard had been instrumental in developing the drug court. I really didn't think Judge Overstreet had anything to do with it. Overstreet is widely known for being too lax on criminals. It will be interesting to see what kind of Superior court judge, Judge Saunders will be, if elected.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 07/28/12 - 02:12 am
2
1
If you are a voter in Burke, Richmond or Columbia county...

and believe that Justice should be blind to color and economic circumstance, vote for Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders for Superior Court Judge.

If, on the other hand, you think that rich folks accused of crimes should pay with their money while accused poor folks should pay with their time and think that whom you know should influence the outcome of a judicial proceeding, reelect his opponent.

HTN007
19
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HTN007 07/28/12 - 03:12 am
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Questions about personal life

"Saunders, said he’s embarrassed by the attention to his bankruptcy, which he doesn’t consider relevant to the election. From his perspective, private financial issues do not affect how he handles his cases."
1] he should be embarassed. 2] whether he realizes it or not, private financial issues in ones personal life translate to professional life. 3] he is not qualified for the office he seeks and it is the voters, not Mr. Kemp, who are responsible for making the decision about his qualifications.

americafirst
966
Points
americafirst 07/28/12 - 07:33 am
2
1
Vote for Saunders if you

Vote for Saunders if you beleive the desperate need of a paycheck qualifies a person for the highest legal position in our community.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 07/28/12 - 10:01 am
1
1
americafirst, do you need

americafirst, do you need your paycheck?
If we are going to make the decision based on the degree of need for one's salary; let's propose Judge Overstreet donate his to a victim's fund to assist with his justice plan.

Willow Bailey
20603
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Willow Bailey 07/28/12 - 11:34 am
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@HTN007 said..." whether he

@HTN007 said..." whether he realizes it or not, private financial issues in one’s personal life translate to professional life."

That would be true only to the degree of a position involving handling or managing money.

Willie Saunders financial problems were used only as an attempt to block Judge Overstreet from having any competition.
Has Saunders not been serving as a juvenile court judge?

If Jack Long and Judge Overstreet had legitimate concerns for the community, why haven't they focused on having him removed from that judgeship? I'll answer for you...because it doesn't serve their agenda.

I resent that. And this financially solvent, white, female, conservative, plans to show it with her vote.

Additionally, should Judge Overstreet be reelected, he should recuse himself from any cases involving Mr. Jack Long, his dear friend and avid supporter.

rambler3
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rambler3 07/28/12 - 11:29 am
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Prosecution lays out case By

Prosecution lays out case

By Staff Writer

The question is not whether Willie G. Allen shot two people to death, it's why, according to attorneys' opening statements Friday.

Both sides intend to lean heavily on forensic evidence to support their version of what happened Dec. 11, 2003, when 28-year-old Angela van Eeden and 33-year-old Ray Anthony Cobb died violently.

Mr. Allen, 30, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping, burglary and weapon violations. If he is convicted of murder, the jury will be asked to set punishment at life with or without the possibility of parole or death. Prosecutors say Mr. Allen sadistically tormented Ms. van Eeden for months after she broke off their relationship. It culminated with Mr. Allen breaking into Ms. van Eeden's home just after midnight while Mr. Cobb was visiting, District Attorney Danny Craig said.

Before Mr. Allen grabbed up the two small children he fathered with Ms. van Eeden and left that night, he left her dead in her bedroom with a bullet wound to her neck, Mr. Craig said. Mr. Cobb lay in a neighbor's yard where he had tried to flee from Mr. Allen. When Mr. Cobb fell to the ground already shot five times, Mr. Allen stood over him and shot him in the face, then fired a final executioner's bullet into Mr. Cobb's right ear, Mr. Craig said.

Defense attorney Willie Saunders told the jury in his opening statement that the 40-caliber handgun wasn't Mr. Allen's and that Ms. van Eeden invited him inside her home that night. There was an argument and gunfire, a lot of gunfire, when Mr. Allen struggled with Ms. van Eeden and then Mr. Cobb over the gun, Mr. Saunders said.

It was Mr. Allen who tried to flee and he fired to escape, said Mr. Saunders, who represents Mr. Allen with lead attorney Michael C. Garrett.

The Hephzibah home on Gebhart Count where the shooting took place belonged to Ms. van Eeden's father. She had been living with Mr. Allen and the children in Florida until she returned to Augusta in late 2001 to care for her father, Robbie A. van Eeden. Mr. van Eeden was extremely sick and needed full-time care, her sisters testified Friday.

Christina van Eeden said Mr. Allen moved back to Augusta, too, and lived with her sister on and off until she kicked him out of her family's home.

It happened in the spring of 2003, when she noticed Angela's face looked swollen and she asked about it.

"She just started crying," Christina van Eeden said of her sister. Mr. Allen had choked her unconscious the night before, she quoted.

Christina van Eeden testified she convinced her sister to go stay with their younger sister, Frances van Eeden, in Connecticut for a while. She had the locks at the Hephzibah home changed and told Mr. Allen he had to leave, she testified. Mr. Allen became belligerent with her, Christina van Eeden said.

When Angela van Eeden returned to Augusta, she called the police and obtained protective orders, but the violence continued, her sisters testified. Frances van Eeden testified that Mr. Allen shot at her sister's car, broke into her home, beat her and broke her nose.

Testimony continues today in Richmond County Superior Court.

Related Searches

MICHAEL C. GARRETT ANGELA VAN EEDEN WILLIE SAUNDERS RICHMOND COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT PERSON COMMUNICATION AND MEETINGS SANDY.HODSON@AUGUSTACHRONICLE.COM DISTRICT ATTORNEY WILLIE G. ALLEN FLORIDA CHRISTINA VAN EEDEN RICHMOND COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT RAY ANTHONY COBB CONNECTICUT DEFENSE ATTORNEY FINAL EXECUTIONER SANDY HODSON LAW_CRIME (706) 823-3226 ROBBIE A. VAN EEDEN FRANCES VAN EEDEN

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avidreader
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avidreader 07/28/12 - 03:43 pm
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To Rambler3

Very interesting!

rambler3
13
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rambler3 07/28/12 - 04:33 pm
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Crime & Courts Richmond Co. |

Crime & Courts
Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |
Bond granted in molestation case
From Staff Reports
Thursday, March 15, 2012 12:45 PM
Last updated 2:34 PM
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A $50,000 bond was granted Thursday to a man accused of sexually molesting a 9-year-old girl.

Solomon Carraway, 61, has been incarcerated for 15 months and his attorney, Willie Saunders, said Carraway was expecting a “quick day in court.”

“We’re still in a posture waiting for trial,” Saunders said.

Assistant District Attorney Laura Stewart opposed bond for Carraway, who is accused of inappropriately touching the girl on Dec. 4, 2010. He is charged with aggravated child molestation and child molestation. Stewart said the delay in trial is caused by a backlog in DNA testing.

Superior Court Judge Carl Brown granted the bond, but stipulated that the suspect have no contact with the victim.

rambler3
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rambler3 07/28/12 - 04:41 pm
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By Valerie Rowell Staff

By Valerie Rowell
Staff Writer

Twitter @ValerieRowell

A judge refused to grant a bond for a Grovetown teen accused of kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old girl.

Superior Court Senior Judge Albert M. Pickett denied a bond for Ismail Asad Jenkins, 19, at a Friday hearing in Evans.

Jenkins, of Felmellow Drive in Grovetown, is charged with rape, child molestation and kidnapping and is being held in the Columbia County Detention Center.

On June 1, a 13-year-old Grovetown girl was walking her dogs on Second Avenue, when she said Jenkins began following her.

Jenkins grabbed the mentally-challenged girl and forced her into a abandoned mobile home on Second Avenue, Grovetown Department of Public Safety Inv. James Tredore said. Inside the trailer, Jenkins raped the girl.

Jenkins’ attorney, Willie Saunders, said at the hearing that Jenkins, who is in a foster home, also has mental disabilities.

“He has several developmental deficits,” Saunders said.

The girl’s mother spoke at the hearing encouraging Pickett to deny granting Jenkins a bond.

“My daughter is scared to go outside,” she said. “I ask you not to grant a bond because what other 13-year-old is going to get raped. He did it to one, he’ll do it to another.”

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