The two attorneys campaigning for the title of state court solicitor gained a deep understanding of the criminal justice system even before they passed the bar exam.
Republican incumbent Chuck Evans’ experience dates back to his days as a state probation officer.
His Democratic challenger, Kellie Kenner McIntyre, counts her time as a victim’s advocate and social worker in Fulton County as instrumental in shaping her career. Both are now intent on making the most of a second career in the legal field.
Evans’ opportunity came when he was called out of private practice in May 2010 and appointed solicitor general.
“I enjoy the ability to be the day-to-day administrator, then get down on the single-case level and help an attorney,” Evans said. Acting as both a lawyer and a boss “challenges me.”
McIntyre said her varied background, including a stint as an assistant solicitor general, gives her “a good perspective on what needs to be done to make it a better office.”
Generally, the solicitor is responsible for prosecuting misdemeanors in state court, including DUI. The caseload also includes tickets for traffic offenses and citations for offenses such as fishing without a license. In 2011, the office opened and closed roughly 20,000 cases.
Evans points to several achievements during his tenure as solicitor general, particularly in the area of streamlining the prosecution process. In traffic, for instance, he’s changed it so that clerks work more in an assembly line format.
“I’ve matched talent to task, and it’s making a big difference,” he said.
He’s also developed a system to whittle down the cases on the trial calendar. The idea is to sit down with his assistants early in the prosecution process to weed out the cases that can best be settled with a plea bargain. This avoids unnecessary subpoenas and adding hundreds of names to the trial calendar months later, Evans said.
He’s also noticed an improvement in morale because of this method.
“Historically it’s been difficult for attorneys to apply their skills when they spend so much time in court shuffling paper,” Evans said.
McIntyre counts her judicial experience and work with crime victims as her greatest assets. Her career path after graduating from Glenn Hills High School took her to Emory University, then Fulton County Superior Court.
In Fulton County, she served as a domestic violence counselor and social services coordinator. In that capacity, she learned how a case should flow through the system and the impact the outcome has on victims. McIntyre describes herself as someone who is always looking to grow professionally, so she took on the challenge of earning her law degree.
In 2004, she became a staff attorney for Fulton County Superior Court, before moving back home to Augusta to become an assistant solicitor general.
McIntyre said her background as an advocate gives her the advantage of considering all sides of a case.
“I definitely want to be firm but fair in my prosecutorial decisions,” she said.