Judge set to retire

Special
Neal Dickert: Judge was elected to the Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court in 1996 and has run unopposed ever since.

Superior Court Judge Neal W. Dickert is hanging up his robes and returning to private practice.

In an interview with The Augusta Chronicle on Friday, Judge Dickert, 61, said he was ready for a change in his professional life.

"I have put my heart and soul and mind in this job for almost 11 years ... It's a tough job. It begins to wear on you after a while," he said.

Judge Dickert was first elected to the Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court bench in 1996, defeating Judge Bettieanne Hart in a runoff. Ms. Hart was appointed by the governor to fill a new judgeship created the year before.

Since winning office, Judge Dickert has run unopposed.

The judge said he is returning to his former law firm - Hull, Towill, Norman, Barrett & Salley - on Nov. 1.

Judge Dickert said he wrote a letter to Gov. Sonny Perdue on Friday, alerting the governor of his intention.

It will be up to the governor to appoint a lawyer to finish Judge Dickert's term, which runs through 2008.

The seat will be on the ballot for the Nov. 4, 2008, election, which is also a presidential election.

Judge Dickert is one of eight Superior Court judges who preside over civil, domestic and criminal cases in Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

WHAT'S NEXT:

The governor's judicial nominations committee will investigate and interview attorneys interested in being appointed to the judgeship. The committee will submit a short list of candidates to the governor, who can pick one of those candidates or select someone else to be the next Superior Court judge.