Will voter apathy elect next justice court judge?

Published 12:38 am Friday, November 24, 2017

Voters of Adams County will head back to the polls next Tuesday, Nov. 28, to elect a justice court judge for the southern district. The term will be for my final two-year term of office. As many are aware I retired for medical reasons this past January. Attorney Hyde Carby was appointed by the board of supervisors until you, the people could have a vote on who you wanted to be your next judge. Five qualified candidates sought the position. I applaud all the candidates for wanting to serve our community. Now we have to choose next week between two; Danny Barber and Eileen Maher.

With selection of a new county prosecutor, Bryan Calloway, many voters may decide not to participate in the runoff election. I feel this is a mistake, as a justice court judge affects our community in several ways. Voter apathy may well decide who will be the next judge. Only 30 percent of the voters turned out on the election held on Nov. 7. Each of the top vote getters received less than 3 out of 10 votes. This was a great disappointment because of the awesome responsibility the lower courts have.

Justice court is not just a criminal court. In addition to handling criminal search warrants, felony preliminary hearings, and all types of misdemeanor trials, they also handle traffic, hunting and fishing violations and civil matters up to $3,500.

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This makes justice court the busiest court system in our state. It will take a person of integrity, moral value, honesty, and compassion. In the first primary I am proud to say many of the candidates exhibited these traits. Voters should expect no less from their next justice court judge.

Citizens have fought and died so that in our democracy you have the “right” to decide who your leaders are. To me, personally there was no greater honor that being called judge.

You should go to the polls and elect the best person possible.

As I said earlier, each of the two top candidates received less than 30 percent of the votes cast.

If the turnout is lower in Tuesday’s runoff, then possibly 15 percent or less of the electorate will choose your next judge for the next two years. All people, Republicans, Democrats and independents in the southern district are eligible to vote. So please do so.

Both candidates have positive traits and know they would do the best job the can. However, what most people don’t know is there are major changes coming to “The People’s Court”. There are new rules of court approved by the supreme court. Additionally, the legislature is adding more responsibilities which include, domestic violence, animal abuse, firearm violence, and credit card embezzlement. Bail hearings within a few days have also been added to insure defendants’ constitutional rights and protect citizens from dangerous people.

More attorneys are practicing in justice court. Though I served 25 years and had the benefit of a college education and years of judicial training, I believe our court will be revamped. Also, the justice judges will be elected with other judicial magistrates.

Common sense is still a great asset but as has been said; “Education teaches you how to spell experience!”

Therefore, I am asking you to go vote and choose wisely. Thanks.
Charlie Vess is a retired Adams County justice court judge.