Originally created 12/14/01

Judgeship interviews scheduled



The five nominees under consideration for the newly created Augusta Judicial Circuit judgeship will interview today with Gov. Roy Barnes in Atlanta.

Mr. Barnes will meet with the candidates to decide who he will appoint to fill the seat, which begins Jan. 1 and runs through 2002. The first election for the seat will be in November, with the winner serving a four-year term.

The candidates are Jim Blanchard Jr., Sheryl B. Jolly, J. Wade Padgett, Larry I. Smith and C. Thompson Harley.

The Augusta Judicial Circuit, made up of Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties, is one of four that the state Judicial Council targeted for additional judgeships because of increased workload. The seven-member bench will expand to eight with the appointment, and the new judge will handle domestic and civil cases.

In September, a letter requesting nominations for the seat was sent by the Judicial Nominating Commission to members of the Augusta Bar Association.

Former Congressman George "Buddy" Darden, the chairman of the JNC, said the commission received 15 nominations. Of those, five completed and returned the questionnaires, Mr. Darden said.

The questionnaires were reviewed and have been submitted to the governor for his consideration.

"Each of these nominees are presumptively qualified for the office of Judge of the Superior Court of the Augusta Judicial Circuit," Mr. Darden wrote in his letter to Mr. Barnes.

Mr. Barnes is expected to make his decision before the end of the year.

THE CANDIDATES

James Blanchard

Age: 59

Experience: Has practiced law in the Augusta area for 33 years; served as chairman of the Columbia County Commission 1973-76; for 24 years has served as city attorney for Grovetown; has served as associate Juvenile Court judge for Columbia County since 1980; has served as attorney for the Columbia County Board of Education since 1987; serves on the Board of Directors for Georgia Bank and Trust

Education: A 1968 graduate of Cumberland Law School

Family: Married; three children

Quote: "I've handled Family law cases throughout my career and serving as a Juvenile Court judge has brought many Family issues before me."

C. Thompson Harley

Age: 54

Experience: Has practiced law in the Augusta area for 29 years; past president of the Augusta Port Authority; past president of the Augusta Museum; a trustee of Westminster Schools

Education: A 1972 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.

Family: Married; two children.

Quote: "I have broad Experience in legal matters over my 29 years of practicing law."

Sheryl Jolly

Age: 42

Experience: An attorney in private practice in Brunswick, Ga., from 1986-88; 1988, became an assistant district attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit; 1989 became an assistant solicitor for Richmond County State Court; 1994, became chief solicitor for Richmond County State Court; 1996 was elected as solicitor general for Richmond County State Court and is currently serving her second term.

Education: A 1983 graduate of Mercer University Law School.

Family: Married; three children

Quote: "My background in dealing with Family issues, particularly domestic violence and child abuse matters."

J. Wade Padgett

Age: 36

Experience: Served as an assistant district attorney from 1990-93; worked as an attorney in private practice since 1993; served as a Columbia County Magistrate Court judge since 1994.

Education: A 1990 graduate of Georgia State Law School.

Family: Married; two children.

Quote: "I want to make a difference and to help shape the policy of the system to make it more efficient."

Larry I. Smith

Age: 50

Experience: Has practiced law in the Augusta area since 1977; former municipal judge for the city of Grovetown.

Education: A 1977 graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.

Family: single; two children

Quote: "I have the temperament for the job."

Reach Ashlee Griggs at (706) 823-3552.