And David (http://viparyaya.wordpress.com) chimes in on the election here in Georgia:
We’re electing 3 judges to the Court of Appeals of Georgia on November 4, 2008. 2 of the judges are incumbents running unopposed. However, Judge John H. Ruffin is retiring at the end of his current term, and there are seven candidates running for his seat on the Court of Appeals. None of the seven are household names (at least not in this household), and I don’t like going into the voting booth completely uninformed, so I spent some time this week trying to find out something about each of them.
Here’s a summary of what I found, together with links to the sources of the information:
The candidates are (in the order they’re listed on the sample ballot):
Tamela L Adkins: A divorce lawyer in Lawrenceville. She advertised $499 uncontested divorces on billboards. According to Daily Report Online she had some financial problems a few years ago (the owner of the billboards sued her law firm in 2005, claiming it was owed $16,000), and is not listed in Westlaw as counsel on any appellate decisions. She is also one of 3 candidates who refused to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t announce their positions on matters that might come before the court. Here’s a picture of Adkins’ billboard in Gwinnett County.
Sara Doyle: Partner at Holland & Knight in Atlanta. Works in civil litigation and education law in Atlanta. Daily Report says she is connected to the Republican establishment in Georgia. She has worked on 16 appeals court cases.
Bruce M. Edenfield: Trial lawyer from Dahlonega. Daily Report says he was listed as counsel on 62 appellate decisions, which is the second most of any of the candidates. He says he is backed by both former Governor Roy Barnes (D) and former Attorney General Michael Bowers (R), and hasn’t been affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party. He claimed to have collected the most campaign contributions of any of the candidates.
Christopher J McFadden: Appeals lawyer from Decatur. Has the most appeals court experience of any of the candidates: 78 cases. Wrote the book “Georgia Appellate Practice,” and is considered an expert on the appeals process.
Perry J. McGuire: Republican nominee for State Attorney General in 2006. Former State Senator for Douglas county and former corporate lawyer for Chick-fil-A. Relatively little litigation experience and no appeals court experience, so he touts his “business sense”. Advertised his support for the old state flag when he ran for State Senate in 1993, but now says he’s glad the flag has been changed. Endorsed by Georgia Right to Life, he’s one of 3 candidates who refused to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t announce their positions on matters that might come before the court.
Michael S. Meyer von Bremen: Democratic state senator from Albany — chair of Senate Special Judiciary Committee and former Senate minority leader. Introduced an indigent defense bill in 2003 that became law, and opposed 2005 legislation designed to make it harder for plaintiffs to win tort suits. Has a large and varied amount of litigation experience, and 12 appeals cases to his name.
Mike Sheffield: Criminal defense attorney in Lawrenceville. Ran for the Court of Appeals in 2004, but lost to Debra Bernes. Estimates he’s appealed about 60 cases to the Court of Appeals or the State Supreme Court. One of 3 candidates who refused to sign a pledge that they wouldn’t announce their positions on matters that might come before the court.
There are interviews with 6 of the candidates on the website for the legal affairs radio show What is Goin’ On?. (Perry McGuire apparently wouldn’t return the host’s phone calls. But that’s okay, because I know all I need to about him…)
Unfortunately, there’s no telling how voters will select between these candidates, given the low profile of this race and the limited information available. Jim Wooten pointed out that 4 of the 12 judges currently on the court got there by being elected (instead of first being appointed by the governor), and all 4 have names that begin with “A” or “B”, so a lot of voters seem to pick the first name on the ballot. Most of this year’s candidates seem to have the appropriate experience and temperament to be on the Court of Appeals, but I’m not sure that’s true of the candidate who’s listed first…