E-mail interview conducted with Walker State Judge candidate Bruce Roberts. His opponent, Billy Mullinax, did not answer the questions. Roberts is the incumbent judge. Eleventh of twelve scheduled Q&A’s. (Due to election day being almost over this is posted as a draft with answers dumped straight in sans formatting. Our apologies for the lateness and roughness of this post.)

What name do you generally go by? Bruce Edward Roberts

What is your age? 46

What is your home address? (We will only publish the street/town, not your house number.) Dicks Creeks Road, LaFayette, GA 30728

How can voters contact you or stay in touch with your campaign? (Please include info like e-mail, phone, Facebook, Twitter, etc. if applicable.) Office Number: 706-638-1664 judgebroberts@aol.com

How long have you lived in the county, and (if applicable) where else have you lived? Twenty-One (21) years in Walker County

What’s the best thing about living in this community? From the day I set foot in Walker County everyone has made me feel at home and a part of the community eventhough I did not grown up here. Starting as early as you want, what kind of education do you have? B.A. in International Relations, minor in Spanish from University of Alabama (1988); J.D. from Mercer Law School (1991); Graduate of Procecuting Attorney’s Council Basic Litigation Course Is State Judge your only job or do you have another occupation? State Court judge is my only job. What previous jobs or elected positions have you held? (91-94) Womack & Rhyne, LaFayette, GA (94-2000) Lookout Mtn DA’s Office (Asst Dist Atty) (2000-2001) McCamy Law Firm, Dalton, GA (2001-2011) Lookout Mtn DA’s Office (Asst Dist Atty)

Do aspects of your education or job experiences make you a better judge? If so please explain. My extensive trial and court room experience (over 100 jury trials and hundreds of hearings), my years of teaching jury trial skills to youbg prosecutors at the PAC Basic Litigation Program Several have asked us exactly what the Walker County State Judge does. In your own words, please explain the duties of this position. To preside over arraignments and trials for misdemeanor offenses taking place in Walker County. To preside and oversee all civil actions filed with walker County State Court. Preside over and hear any matters appealed to Walker County State Court. To assure the fair and impartial administration of justice in all matters brought before the Court.

During your time as judge, what would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment? I have added a Traffic Court day before each Saturday arraignment day, I have instituted Pre-Trial Orders in civil cases and added court costs n all non-speeding criminal cases which will increase monie which go directly to the County, and most importtantly I have ended the long standing practice of reducing DUIs to Reckless Conduct or disorderly Conduct in exchange for an illegal $2500 fine.

Is there anything from your time as a judge that you regret or wish you could do differently? No.

What are your priorities for the next four years if you’re reelected? To cotinue to make walker County state Court a court the citizens can be proud of and know that they will be treated impartially and fairly without regard to their socio-economic staus or standing in the community.

Is there any criteria, philosophy, or overall guideline you use when deciding cases? To be fair and impartial to all parties and to follow the law regardless of my personal opinion or feelings.

Do you feel that law enforcement agencies, judges, and prosecutors are held properly accountable under existing state laws, or are reforms needed in those areas? If so what reforms would you like to see put into place? Yes, however I think the public should be aware of what recourse they have if they feel their rights have been abrogated.

Your opponent has been seen campaigning door to door with the sitting county Sheriff, and the two have purchased campaign advertising together. Do you feel it’s appropriate for someone in law enforcement leadership to have that kind of relationship with a judge candidate, or should it be considered a conflict of interest? No, it is highly unethical and inappropriate. A judge should always have a good relationship with law enforcement, as well as the prosecution and the defense bar. But those lines should never be blurred as judges must avoid even the appearance of impropriety as dictated by the Canons of Ethics. In my opinion joining in with another candidate to campaign indicates one person is a weak candidate and needs the help of the other’s coattails to get elected. In addition the judicial Canons of Ethics forbids a judge or judicial candidate from endorsing another candidate for office. Does a background in law enforcement or private law practice give a judge better perspective on cases, or could it potentially lead to favoritism and discrimination? I think having a background in both does give a judge a better prospective on cases. As an Assistant District Attorney and as a private attorney handling civil as well as criminal defense cases I have both. Having a background in all of these areas allows me to see casess from every perspective, not just one. My opponent does not have this experience. Your opponent has criticized you for a drop in court revenue since you were appointed judge. Is this true, and if so how do you explain the drop? Yes, court revenues have decreased since I took the bench, however the previous judge was able to maintain the high revenue levels by reducing DUIs to Reckless Conduct for a fine of $2500 which is illegal. OCGA 17-10-3 forbids assessing fines in excess of $1000 in misdemeanor cases. On the saturday arraignment before I took office 11 such pleas were taken resulting in $27,500 in fines being taken in. I have to set fines within the parameters dictated by the law and will probably never be able to replicate these amounts. I have added court costs of $50 per crimninal case to help bring in more revenue. This projected to bring in an additional $160,000 into the county general fund as court costs go directlyto the county. However I strongly believe that courts as a rule should not be treated as “cash cows” and there should be a measure of justice involved. To treat a court solely as a revenue court is to cheapen it and the criminal justice process as a whole. Do you have plans to return court earnings back to previous levels? Yes, If I can do so in a legal, ethical manner. With the passage of the Criinal Justice Reform Act State Court’s jurisdiction has been increased which should result in more crimninal cases being filed in this court. This should translate into more fine monies coming through Walker County State Court.

Please summarize in a single paragraph why residents of Walker County should vote for you in the upcoming election: I am young, energetic, full of ideas and have a well developed sense of impartiality, right and wrong and ethics. In addition I have more courtroom and trial experience than my opponent. I am not part of the Good Ol Boy network, am not in anyone’s backpocket and will administer justice fairly and impartially.

Is there anything else voters should know about you? Family, faith, philosophy, inspirations, etc.? I am a Christian and live by the philosophies of “Don’t tell me what a good christian you are, show me” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. My relationship with God is personal and not something to be used to gain political office. In my professional life I aspire to be like retired Superior court Judge Wm. Ralph Hill in the manner in which I carry out my duties as judge. Judge Hill was always fair and impartial and let the law dictate his rulings, not his feelings or who the parties or lawyers were before him.

All LaFayette Underground 2012 Election Posts

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