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My opponent has overstated his qualifications and misleads the voters

In a recent letter to the editor and in several other forums, my opponent has made a number of claims that are either gross exaggerations or are completely false. I am writing to set the record straight.

My opponent states that he is ready to serve due to his “vast legal experience as a judge, prosecutor, and mediator.” I believe that it is fair for the voting public to know that my opponent has never been the elected or appointed judge anywhere.

In fact, he has previously served as the Judge, Pro Hac for Peachtree City, which means that he has sometimes been a substitute for the appointed Judge, Stephen Ott. If you ask the City or Mr. Ott, I think you will learn that my opponent has very rarely sat the bench. In fact, he has done so probably fewer than 10 times, period. This does not suit my definition of “vast.”

With regard to his experience as a mediator, I would point out that, to my knowledge, my opponent has never handled a single mediation through our local mediation office, the Griffin Alternative Dispute Resolution office. While it is possible that he has handled a private mediation on the rare occasion, again, his mediation experience does not rise to the level of “vast.”

That leaves his experience as a prosecutor. To my knowledge, my opponent has had a part-time job prosecuting traffic tickets and DUI’s in Griffin, Georgia. He has never handled a felony criminal matter. Again, he stretches the use of the term “vast.”

To the contrary, I have presented my own qualifications concisely and without exaggeration. I have been trying cases in Fayette County courts since 1999. I have had my own firm, Sanderson Law, PC since 2004. I have handled felony and misdemeanor criminal matters in our municipal, magistrate, state and superior courts, as well as hundreds of civil cases.

I have years of experience handling domestic violence cases. I have filed and tried five times as many cases as has my opponent in Fayette County courts. I have mediated dozens of cases as an advocate. I wish to be your magistrate court judge because I have the trial experience and common sense necessary to ensure that justice is served.

I have stated previously that I believe that my opponent has a conflict of interest that should preclude him from seeking this office. His wife is one of the two assistant-solicitors that prosecute misdemeanors in our county. She regularly appears in the Magistrate Court.

I strongly believe that it is incumbent upon all lawyers and judges to conduct themselves in such a way as to give the public a sense of faith and fairness in our justice system. It is important to avoid not just actual conflicts, but also the appearance of impropriety in our criminal justice system.

My opponent’s wife’s position as an assistant solicitor would create an actual conflict, that could only be resolved if she were to stop practicing in the magistrate court (which could be a cost to our county).

Furthermore, it would erode public confidence in our system if a judge is signing arrest warrants in the presence of a prosecutor, whether or not she goes on to prosecute that case.

However, my opponent would have you believe that no conflict exists at all. He has suggested that our Chief Superior Court Judge and Chief Magistrate have verified this. This assertion is in fact blatantly false.

Neither of the named judges ever said there is not a conflict. In fact, it is not the role of other public officials to decide this conflict. My opponent has engaged in deception in order to try to take voter’s attention away from a legitimate issue in this race.

My opponent goes on to state in his letter that he is the “only qualified candidate” for Magistrate Judge. That is simply a ludicrous assertion. The truth is we are both qualified candidates. I have never suggested otherwise.

I do feel that I am more qualified, due to my trial and life experiences. I am also a better candidate because I have no conflicts of interest with the prosecutor’s office. However, I would never suggest that my opponent is unqualified for office.

Do we really want to elect a Judge that twists the truth to gain votes?

Catherine Sanderson,

Candidate for Magistrate Judge

Location: 

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Live free or die!

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Live free or die!

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