Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It has one of the busiest juvenile case loads in the entire state, but Augusta's Judicial Circuit has always had to fight a full time problem with part-time judges.
"Can you do your job just two or three days a week part time and get the same amount of work done?" asked Judge Doug Flanagan. "The answer is no."
He would know. For years, that's what he had to do.
"It's kind of like working on the assembly line when every other person is missing. You're trying to move the equipment down the line, but it doesn't work," Flanagan said.
Flanagan was eventually able to be on the bench five days a week in Columbia County, but in Richmond and Burke counties, the case loads continued to pile up, burying families underneath.
A Superior Court decision could change that. For the first time ever, the Augusta Judicial Circuit has three full-time juvenile judges.
"Cases will move faster. More time will be able to be spent on each individual case and child that comes before the court," Flanagan said.
He is now one of 3 full-time judges.
Judge Jennifer McKinzie is another. She has been a juvenile judge since she was appointed in 2007 and has been an attorney for 17 years.
She released this statement to News 12 about the change:
"I am looking forward to dedicating my service to the families in Richmond, Columbia and Burke counties. I will work diligently to make a difference in the lives of our young people. This is a positive step and exciting change for our community."
Flanagan agrees, predicting this will prevent crime and even save taxpayer dollars. He says everyone will benefit.
Both Flanagan and McKinzie tell News 12 they are excited to be able to get in more schools and churches to be being proactive instead of reactive.
News 12 tried to reach Judge Pam James, who was also appointed to the bench full time, but she did not return our calls.