Following a peer review process, the city of Sandy Springs has declined to reappoint three municipal court judges — James Anderson III, Scott Carter and Larry Young.
On June 3, the city swore in four new judges who were recommended by a panel of lawyers Mayor Rusty Paul had convened in January. Paul said this process is used in several states.
“Experienced attorneys know what characteristics good judges possess, and I knew the city could benefit from this process,” Paul said in a news release. “Our court system is a good one, but conducting a top to bottom review of the system ensures that we benefit from best practices in all aspects of our city courts.”
The new judges, who will join sitting Judge Donald Schaefer, are Joseph Buford, Sharon Dickson, Marcie Ernst and Candiss Howard.
Resident Patty Berkovitz expressed dismay to council members before the swearing in. “I’m sure the other people will be fine, but this is a real shame,” she said. “It’s starting to smell [like bringing] your friends in and giving them business.” Berkovitz added that she thought the process might be a flaw in the city’s public/private partnership, in which many city employees, such as the judges, are outsourced.
While Anderson declined to comment and Young did not return a call seeking comment, Carter said he was grateful to have served on the bench since 2007. “It was a privilege to work for the city; they’re a great bunch of people,” he said. Anderson and Young had served since the court’s inception.
Sharon Kraun, Sandy Springs spokeswoman, said the city was pleased with the performances of the outgoing judges. “It’s not that they weren’t doing a good job, they were,” she said. [But Mayor Paul] has been pretty vocal on limited terms. Once you get in office you shouldn’t be there forever.”
The city’s municipal court judges serve four-year terms after being appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the city council. The judges hear cases such as traffic and DUI offenses, local ordinance violations and some misdemeanor shoplifting and marijuana possession cases.
Jenna Goff contributed to this article.