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Poll: Who Deserves Your Vote For Walton County Probate Court Judge?

Three candidates qualified to run for Walton County Probate Court Judge. Which one of them do you believe deserves your vote?

Walton County Probate Court Judge Greg Adams is retiring at the end of his current term and three candidates have qualified to run for his seat.

The three candidates facing off on July 31 for Walton County Probate Court Judge are attorney , attorney and Walton County Chief Deputy .

Which one of these candidates do you believe should take Judge Adams' seat on the bench?

 

Chuck Bagley June 11, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Does anyone know what are the advantages and disadvantages to having a non attorney as Probate court judge? Are all situations the same including trials and appeals. What is more important; Common sense or Legal sense?
Sharon Swanepoel June 11, 2012 at 03:35 PM
That is an interesting question, and I don't know the answer. Does anybody?
Jeff Young June 11, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Are there any debates scheduled for these candidates?
Jeffrey Allen June 11, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I would think that i firm grasp on both might be a good combination.
Sharon Swanepoel June 11, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Jeff, I will check on that for you and let you know.
Jeff Young June 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Thanks Sharon. It would be interesting to know what key changes each candidate would like to make in the way the Probate Court handles its duties.
Sharon Swanepoel June 11, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Jeff, yes there is. The Walton Chamber of Commerce is co-sponsoring a candidate forum with the Walton Tribune – Saturday, July 14th 9:00 a.m. – Noon – Walton County Historic Courthouse, Monroe. I will put it on the calendar and remind you all closer to the time.
Jeff Young June 11, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Very good! Thanks for the info!
Justin Melissa June 11, 2012 at 10:08 PM
So, was this poll actually sponsored by Bruce Wright and if so, does that somehow skew the results?
Justin Melissa June 11, 2012 at 10:10 PM
I agree, but think knowing how to find all the right answers would be a big advantage and in order to do that, a legal background would be helpful.
Sharon Swanepoel June 11, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Justin, I hope not, but that is of course possible. It should be noted though, that the poll is not considered scientific. Bruce Wright sponsored the Election coverage a while ago, so I don't have any control over it. If I didn't categorize it as elections, and just left it as government, it would have been sponsored by Lori Duff. But technically it is about the elections so I believe that is the right category for it.
Stephen Landkamer June 11, 2012 at 11:09 PM
To help give some information for Chuck. I have spoken to several lawyers inside and outside Walton County about what a Probate Judge does and here is what I have come up with: A Probate Judge deals with guardianships and conservatorships. Any time anyone is incapacitated -- due to illness or mental abilities or injury -- or because they are a minor who is coming into money through a personal injury settlement or other lawsuit or an inheritance without a trust -- the probate court has to get involved. Incompetent persons all go through Probate Court. Here in Walton there are a few other added tasks for the Probate Judge: Probate Court acts as recorders court, which means it deals with traffic cases from unincorporated places in Walton County and low level misdemeanors along with marriage licenses and passports and pistol permits. One attorney friend in Atlanta who has been a practicing for 15 years stated to me that he doesn't fully understand all of the complexities of probate law and how the heck can a non-attorney even come close to understanding it. For me Lori Duff is the one candidate that has the full background for the job.
Vicki James June 12, 2012 at 02:01 AM
I agree with Mr. Landkamer. Ms. Duff's experience in Juvenile Court alone involved most of the issues that he mentioned, and her recommendations and decisions were consistently fair and well thought out. She has a sharp mind and can quickly and thoroughly sort out the legal issues, as well as a compassionate heart - a good combination for a judge.
Jeff Young June 12, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Do either of Ms. Duff's supporters know her position relative to gun control?
Stephen Landkamer June 12, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Jeff - I asked Lori directly on the matter of gun control and she supports the Second Amendment. I also know that Lori’s husband Mike is a retired police officer who owns a number of firearms and her step-son is an avid hunter to boot. If I am not mistaken if a crime is committed with a firearm it would be a felony and out of the hands of the probate court since that court deals with low level misdemeanors. The probate court in Walton does deal with pistol permits and that has to be done in accordance with the laws in the State of Georgia.
Jeff Young June 12, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Thanks for the feedback Stephen. I understand the concealed carry laws are state laws. I also know that the time it takes and hassle factor involved with receiving new and renewal licenses vary significantly from county to county. Walton County seems to be among the best counties as far as turnaround time goes. That one issue is not the only aspect to be considered, obviously, but it does matter. As for Ms. Duff's support of the Second Amendment, it is difficult to gauge exactly what that means without deeper inspection. For example, Pres. Obama supports the Second Amendment. Many people claim to support the Second Amendment but they believe that it only relates to arming National Guard. Do not take this to mean that I am implying that Ms. Duff shares that belief. I have no way of knowing as of now. I'm just pointing out that a statement that anyone "supports the Second Amendment" lacks the depth to gauge clear understanding of a position. If a person who owned say 10-15 firearms was before her seeking guardianship, would that gun ownership be a factor in her decision?
Justin Melissa June 12, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I'd be curious to know how ALL of the candidates would answer Mr. Young's question(s).
Sharon Swanepoel June 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Justin, the Walton Tribune and Chamber of Commerce are putting together a candidate forum next month. They usually solicit questions in advance. As soon as I hear that's what they are doing, I'll post it and you can submit the question.
Stephen Landkamer June 13, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Jeff - I asked Lori your question: "If a person who owned say 10-15 firearms was before her seeking guardianship, would that gun ownership be a factor in her decision?" She told me: "Unless he keeps them loaded on the coffee table, no. I have no issues with responsible gun owners, as I am married to one."
Jennifer Gregory June 21, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Food for thought...YES you should have law experience for this position AND in my opinion be a long standing productive member of the county! Look it up in the State qualifying guide as related to population over 96,000 : http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/elections/candidate_information/qualguide.pdf ***Additional qualifications in counties with a population over 96,000 according to the United States decennial census of 1990 or any future such census include the following: a) Must not engage in the private practice of law. b) Must have attained the age of 30 at the time of election. c) Must have been admitted to practice law for seven years preceding election. Additional qualifications in counties with a population over 96,000 according to the United States decennial census of 1990 or any future such census include the following: a) Must not engage in the private practice of law. b) Must have attained the age of 30 at the time of election. c) Must have been admitted to practice law for seven years preceding election.
Jennifer Gregory June 21, 2012 at 04:13 PM
On a side note, help me out here….am I reading this right? No formal education is required of our Board of Education members??? http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/elections/candidate_information/qualguide.pdf
Linda Young July 24, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Not sure how a non-lawyer could make the best candidate for Judge, especially in complex estate matters. Sheryl Fambrough has many years of experience as a lawyer, and possesses the right balance of compassion and knowledge to match her experience. Additionally, she is a Walton County native and best suited for the position.
Stephen Landkamer July 24, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I don't think having a Walton County native as the probate judge would be a good idea...... There is a 6 degree rule for a judge in GA. A judge can not hear a case when it is a family member with in 6 degrees, a great-great-great grandparent and their siblings. The judges friends also apply, your high school friend from 20 years ago the judge has to pass it to another judge. We only have 1 probate judge in Walton so if Sheryl or Bruce (lifelong residents) get a case even traffic cases they have to pass. So the county has to hire a probate judge to handle such cases. That person is generally an attorney, read $$$ and is paid from our tax dollars.

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