by Linda Moore
My cousin and her husband are Foster Parents. I've seen young'uns that rant and rave and want to go home. I've seen young'uns that cry to stay with them and never go home. I asked about all these different children. I have learned that a JUDGE makes the decision on what happens to these kids. We have just such an election coming up in August. In August we will choose the judge that will alter lives for generations.
This judge will make heart wrenching decisions of whether to remove a child
alleged to be dependent and neglected from the home of parents for placement in
a foster home. This judge will make decisions about terminating parental rights. This judge will have to decide if a child, (certain offenses), should be charged as a child or an adult. This judge may have to decide if the child goes into a state of incarceration or not.
I have asked each of our candidates for this position a couple of questions. I am giving you their answers so that you can think about this position and make an informed decision. I would urge all of you to CALL each candidate and ask more questions. Here, in the words of the candidates, are the answers for a few very pertinent questions. I Thank both candidates for their time and their trouble.
Ginger Wilson Buchanan
What are the qualifications of the job you seek?
I am qualified and experienced as well as impartial and fair. I have relevant experience in General Sessions Court. The best way to show my qualifications and experience is to directly compare my legal experience with that of my opponent.
Full time Attorney since 1995 Juvenile Court Cases = 79 cases General Sessions Civil Cases, 47 Campus Court Referee 7 years. General Civil Mediator Adjunct Professor for Legal Assistant Program at CSCC 1997 through 2000. Served as Special Judge for General Sessions Court
My Opponent last worked as a full time attorney in 1999. Juvenile Court Cases = Less than 5. General Sessions Civil Cases = 7. Campus Court Referee, Less than 2 years.
I have had many questions inquiring "what exactly is Campus Court" and "why is Campus Court experience relevant to this position"; therefore, I think it is worth further explanation. Campus Court is a program conducted through the Juvenile system as an intermediate step that handles truancy and disciplinary matters after measures have been exhausted by the school administration in attempt to address those matters before intervention of the Juvenile Court is necessary. Campus Court is held once a month or bi-monthly at all county and city schools. There are 17 local attorneys that serve the schools as Campus Court Referee. A Referee assumes the judicial role to hear cases sent to Campus Court. A Referee has the authority to make referrals to DCS, to order community service, drug screening, suspend driver's license, place children on curfews, order participation in before school or after school tutoring programs, etc. similar to the Juvenile Judge. A Referee normally refers cases to Juvenile Court when there is no improvement of the initial causes of referral or when the child violates the Order by failure to do or refrain from doing what has been previously ordered.
The position of General Sessions/ Juvenile Judge requires the person holding
the position to be able to hear facts, weigh evidence, apply the law and make fair and impartial decisions. I have learned the virtues of life through personal experience on a dairy farm, actively practicing law, owning my own business, and serving as county commissioner, campus court referee, mediator, not to mention my many civic activities and service on different types of boards and associations. Throughout all of these, I have demonstrated to the community who I am and what I am about, and all of these experiences have
helped prepare me to serve as a Judge of General Sessions Court/Juvenile Court.
Why do you want this job?
I have spent the time necessary in this Court to fully understand the demands of this job (especially the emotional demands of some juvenile matters). This job demands someone that is hard-working and versed in many different areas of the law. I am a hard and devoted worker (I only learned as an adult that not every one worked 18 hours a day every day as my dad did as a dairy farmer). In addition to having the heart of a public servant, I think I have the legal ability, the experience in the General Sessions and Juvenile Court, the demeanor and skill to be an excellent judge who is impartial and fair. For many people, General Sessions Court is their initial or only contact with the Justice System. I feel that it is of utmost importance that each person is afforded equality, fairness, and respect in this Court.
One of my friends came to the Juvenile Court to observe one day when I was sitting as Special Judge a few weeks ago. Her question to me when court had concluded was "why do you want this job?" I believe that one of the most important courts in the Judicial System is the Juvenile Court System in the time of changing family dynamics and diminishing parental responsibility. The Juvenile Court System is in place to protect children and improve the lives of children. As I mother, I know the challenges of today's families and challenges facing our children. If one can affect the lives of children, I think that is the best way to improve society. I think we must remember that the children are the hope of today and the foundation of tomorrow.
What are the qualifications for the job you seek?
From 1994 to 1998, I managed my own law office in Cleveland. I served as Assistant District Attorney in Polk and Bradley Counties, where I prosecuted cases as in both Circuit and General Sessions Courts. Although assigned to Polk County I filled in for other staff in Bradley County. A normal docket in General Sessions included 50-100 cases and many were resolved on the spot. I prosecuted jury trials in Polk and Bradley County Circuit Courts.
I came home in 1993 to help care for my elderly mother. In 1998 I made the decision to lessen my work load and devote more time to family. I worked with the Elder Law Hotline until their funds were cut in 2001. While working with Elder Hotline , I learned how great a need exists for attorneys to go to the homes and the hospital rooms of the elderly and disabled,
I have worked from a home office since 2001, which has allowed me to spend sufficient time with my mother. I have worked nights and weekends at my clients convenience. I have prepared advance directives and wills at homes and in hospitals and have also counseled and prepared documents for businesses and individuals including real estate, incorporations and collections. My focus has been on assisting my mother, helping the elderly and disabled and making enough money to pay bills. Being a good judge requires life experiences. I've worked with young people from all backgrounds in the Marine Corps and Navy. I have served as a 4-H camp counselor and have coached softball and basketball teams.
Why do I want this Job?
I feel that I have something positive to offer Cleveland and Bradley County. General Sessions Court is the "People's Court", where non-lawyers can come tell their story and where a fair , consistent, Common-Sense approach should prevail over legal nuances. My education and military experience have given me an appreciation for fairness, consistence and common sense and my legal training has allowed me an understanding of procedure and evidence.
Juvenile Court requires a fairness, firmness and consistency, which I believe that I have learned. I served as a Juvenile referee and have argued motions in Juvenile Court as an Assistant D.A. which has helped me understand the structure and procedure. It is critical to rehabilitate as many young people as possible. In order to do this I will set clear standards and apply them consistently. I wish to have a positive impact on as many young lives as possible.