Todd Butler’s life began quite humbly. The State Court of Grady County judge candidate spent most of his childhood at Scott and Marshall Grocery in Pelham.
“My whole family has worked at Scott and Marshall Grocery. It was a family affair. My dad worked there, too. The owner always said he hired one and the rest worked out,” said Butler.
Butler’s father, however, had bigger plans for his four children. He wanted them to attend college. All achieved this goal.
Since Law School at Mercer University, Butler was told he had the demeanor for the bench.
He said, “I can sit and talk with a professional person on a personal one-on-one level. I don’t feel like I act superior to anyone. I speak to someone who is in trouble the same way and I don’t judge them.”
This is one quality Butler said his father always liked about him.
Butler believes everyone has something to contribute. He learned this while being an attorney in Cairo.
“In Social Security cases, if I have a client who is struggling with alcohol, etc., and if the problem contributes to their benefits, we have to work with these people to get them past that. The State Court judge will be addressing such issues as drug and alcohol abuse,” said Butler.
Butler also believes his military experience would benefit him as a judge.
“There is a maturity one attains in the course of military service,” he said.
One day after reporting for Navy duty in 1989, he was an operations specialist.
He said, “I was a 21-year-old kid in the Caribbean at this point. We were there for a month. The battleships would launch shells onto the beach. I thought about how amazing that was. Then one night after I got off night watch, the captain told the crew there was an explosion from the U.S. Iowa. The turrets exploded, killing Navy soldiers.
“I knew I was not at a party or game. I realized people could die if I missed something on the radar. I began taking things seriously.”
According to Butler, this is when he began thinking like an adult.
He added, “It’s about people’s lives when you’re on the bench. At that moment when they are standing before you, that person is having one of the worst days of their life — and I respect that fact.”
Butler realized every judge has a style.
He said, “There is no one right style — as long as the judge is getting the law right and making good decisions.”
The candidate considers justice to be a commandment on everyone: “Do unto others as you would like to be done and love God with all your heart.”
He said, “Within that is an obligation to justice. Whether talking about a victim of crime or someone doing wrong on the streets, or with people who are threats to themselves, we are obligated to justice.
“I want to see efficiency in the court and I also want things to run fast and correctly — to get to the point. Time is valuable — and even with my spiritual convictions — justice cannot be slowed down.”
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1827.