“The new courthouse has three offices and one is empty,” Hamrick said. “The people who handle expenses want us to live as close as possible to our offices. They’ve suggested I have my office in Carroll County.”
However, he said the case load among the judges will likely be divided throughout the circuit, which includes the counties of Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Meriwether and Troup.
Hamrick, speaking Wednesday at a meeting of the West Georgia Trial Lawyers Association at Sunset Hills Country Club, said he is hoping for a fair case assignment process, but he doesn’t know yet what that will be.
“I think it’s better for judges to have cases where they’re the judge from beginning to end,” Hamrick said. “It obviously creates problems when you haven’t heard all the motions or know the facts. Then there’s the geography of it all, just the way our circuit is.”
He said he expects the Coweta Circuit to remain intact for awhile, despite recent talk about dividing it into two circuits.
“We could go into all the conversations I’ve had over the years about splitting the circuit,” Hamrick said. “And I can tell you that it never worked out for us to be able to do that. When you have some of the judges who don’t want to split the circuit, it’s hard to get through the process you have to go through and then ask the state to fund it.”
In addition, he said that there’s not been a group that is aligned to make splitting the circuit happen.
“So I expect the circuit will stay intact and that’s the way it is for awhile,” he added.
Speaking on judicial ethics, Hamrick said there’s been a lot of concern about the appearance of impropriety among judges, especially concerning ex parte communications (communications by a judge where all parties to the controversy are not present).
“I will work with the JQC (Judicial Qualifications Commission) to make sure I’m doing things appropriately and in an impartial way,” he said.
Hamrick was asked about who will carry on the battle for juvenile justice reform, a major goal of his work as District 30 state Senator.
He said District 49 House Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is now leading the juvenile justice reform battle.
Hamrick, 47, resigned his District 30 state Senate seat Monday to accept the judicial appointment. He is filling the vacancy created by the May 1 resignation of Judge William E. Lee Jr. Hamrick was chosen by from a short list of six candidates named by Deal in July.
Hamrick, a Carrollton attorney and a Republican, was first elected to the District 30 Senate seat in 2000. In addition to chairing the Judiciary Committee, he was also a member of the Appropriations, Ethics, Public Safety and Rules committees.
He chaired the Senate Study Committee to rewrite the Juvenile Justice Code and served on several committees for the National Conference of State Legislators. He also served as co-chair of the Joint Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform in the 2011-2012 General Assembly session.