A Grady County lawyer, who presides over six area municipal courts, will seek the State Court of Grady County judgeship in the May primary election.
Joshua Clark (Josh) Bell said the Grady County judiciary has “taken some hits” in recent years, and he is ready to return respect to the State Court judgeship.
“I’m ready to help make that a better court, make it run better and make it fair to everyone, which also has taken some hits,” Bell said.
Bill Bass, incumbent State Court judge, was reprimanded by the Georgia Qualifications Commission (JQC) last year. Bass returned to the bench after a JQC suspension, but he is prohibited by the JQC from seeking re-election to the judgeship.
Bell, 42, received a juris doctor degree from the University of Georgia School of Law and a master of public administration and a bachelor of arts in criminal justice from UGA.
The Brookwood School graduate and his wife, Deana, have two children, Finn, 7, and McCartney, 5. The family lives in the Whigham residence where Bell grew up.
After being associated with other law firms, Bell opened a law practice in Whigham in November 2009.
He is judge of municipal courts in Cairo, Whigham, Bainbridge, Climax, Donalsonville and Pelham, all part-time judgeships.
Bell has received a number of honors and is active in civic work.
“I think I can serve Grady County in a positive way,” Bell said, in announcing his candidacy Monday.
He said Grady County State Court has been operated in the same way for several years and in need of a look by “fresh eyes.” Court sessions, he said, need streamlining and should run more efficiently.
The current method of operation costs Grady County government tax dollars in providing sheriff’s office personnel for security for long court sessions, Bell explained.
“We’re in an era to where all judges need to start looking at paper and how to get rid of it,” Bell said. The court should turn to electronic legal documents, electronic forms of receiving court information and electronic filing,” Bell added.
“I want to make it a more open court,” Bell said “ ... A lot of times judges don’t listen like they used to.”
Bell said Grady County State Court could take pressure off Superior Court by handling domestic cases, including divorces, child custody and adoptions, and cases dealing with inequity, such as land title issues.
Bell has been judge of Cairo Municipal Court for 13 years. “I’m ready to represent the whole county and think I will do a good job,” he said.
In seeking the non-partisan, part-time State Court judgeship, Bell said he would be fair, treat everyone with the same respect and listen.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.