published Friday, April 5th, 2013

Hamilton County commissioners mum on Juvenile Court judge picks

   
Hamilton County Juvenile Court
Hamilton County Juvenile Court
Staff Photo by David Barry

JUVENILE COURT CANDIDATES

Interviewed Thursday:

Christy Jindra, a private attorney and special juvenile prosecutor in Griffin, Ga.

Troy McDougal, a Juvenile Court magistrate

Rob Philyaw, a local private attorney

Ron Powers, a local private attorney

Rachel Wright, a local attorney who practices exclusively in Juvenile Court

Interviewed Wednesday:

Curtis Bowe

Lisa Bowman

John Allen Brooks, former county commissioner

Blair Cannon

Robert Davis, former magistrate

Hamilton County commissioners kept silent about their reactions Thursday after hearing from the final five candidates seeking to replace Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey.

Commissioners plan to appoint one of the 10 people who interviewed this week to take over for Bailey, who is retiring April 30 with about 16 months left in her term.

Some commissioners said after interviews Thursday they had their favorites, but none was ready to name his picks.

"I've picked my top three. I'll probably narrow it down to two and decide once I know how the vote's going" during discussion at a recessed commission meeting Thursday, Commissioner Fred Skillern said.

Commissioners Marty Haynes and Greg Beck also said they had short lists but declined to share them.

Beck said he saw "several who had good elements -- those who had experience and who had a plan going forward."

Both said they would need time to think before making final choices.

Chairman Larry Henry said he expects a decision will be made next week, but it won't come easily.

"We've got 10 good candidates. ... I really think we'll take multiple ballots," Henry said.

Some commissioners, like Joe Graham, still are taking in all the information.

"I want to go back and look at my notes for all 10 applicants and give it every consideration before I make a decision," Graham said.

Commissioner Chester Bankston was not able to attend all the interviews and said he would review recordings of the ones he missed.

Commissioners Warren Mackey and Tim Boyd were unable to attend any of the interviews, but they have been provided recordings of the sessions.

Commissioner Jim Fields did not return phone calls seeking comment.

The elected leaders were quiet about who they wanted in the position -- but not about what qualities they wanted to see from candidates.

"I've never had a complaint within the last five years that someone's been sentenced too much in Juvenile Court," Skillern said during an interview with candidate Rob Philyaw.

Beck said he was "very impressed" by candidate Rachel Wright, who he said "was the only candidate who supplied a written plan about what she would do to make changes at Juvenile Court."

Wright garnered some other favorable reactions when she said the court needed a woman at its helm because, she said, fathers were rarely involved in proceedings.

"There needs to be a woman speaking for the children in Hamilton County. Juvenile Court is a mother-and-child issue," Wright said.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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