Melissa Hise, a Summerville, Ga., attorney, is running for superior court judge.
Hise, 49, will challenge Ralph Van Pelt Jr., who has sat on the bench in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit since 1996. Hise said she wants to take the seat to advocate for more individualized treatment for defendants.
The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit became one of the last circuits in Georgia to add accountability courts when it launched a drug court in 2016. Hise said she wants to help the circuit introduce parental accountability, mental health and veterans courts in the future.
"I'm excited about some of the changes our court system in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit is doing," she said. "My background lends me to be able to help and provide my unique experience and expertise."
Hise graduated from the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., in 1993 before joining Watson & Dana in LaFayette. A year later, she clerked for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit's four superior court judges, including current sitting judge Kristina Cook Graham.
In 1996, Hise launched Four Points, a nonprofit supervised visitation center in the circuit. In addition to hosting parents and children involved in family violence cases, Four Points workers serve as points of contact for judges, police officers, prosecutors, health providers and others in the community, keeping them abreast on developments in those cases.
After 15 years at Four Points, Hise joined the Palmour Law Firm in Summerville, where she specializes in estates, wills and employment discrimination. She also assists in the Walker County magistrate's office, signing warrants for the police and setting bonds for defendants.
Earlier this month, Graham appointed Hise as the circuit's Americans with Disabilities Act contact. Her job is to make sure everyone in the circuit has equal access to the courts. For example, she said, if a deaf person wants to serve on a jury, Hise will make sure a translator is available for the person.
The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit covers Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties.