Superior Court judgeship headed to runoff

awomack@macon.comNovember 3, 2010 

Public defender Jim Barnes and former District Attorney Howard Simms will square off in a Nov. 30 runoff to determine who will be the next Superior Court judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit.

The men are vying to fill the seat being vacated by Judge Lamar Sizemore. Sizemore did not seek re-election.

With all but one Peach County precinct and 99 percent of Crawford County reporting, Barnes took 42 percent of the vote, while Simms captured 39 percent.

Local attorney G. Morris Carr took 17 percent of the vote.

Barnes, a political newcomer, said he was pleased with the election results.

“It is a very extraordinary compliment when people feel you’re of the caliber to be a judge,” he said.

Simms said he’ll keep working to get his message out before the runoff and to get his supporters to return to the polls.

Carr said he will support Simms in the runoff.

“I think he’ll be a fine addition to the bench,” he said.

As the newest judge for Bibb, Crawford and Peach counties, the winner of the runoff will be responsible for the domestic relations calendar, among other cases.

Current Superior Court Judge Tilman E. “Tripp” Self III, 41, was unopposed for this election cycle. Judges serve four-year terms.

If elected, Barnes has said he would impose sentencing based on a person’s crime, not their socioeconomic background.

Barnes, 56, also has said he’d like to see the circuit add a court for veterans that’s aimed at rehabilitation in addition to the alternative treatment courts that the circuit utilizes for drugs and mental health.

Simms, 47, served as district attorney for the circuit for nearly 10 years before resigning in June to run for judge. He has said he can make more of a difference from the other side of the bench.

He has proposed that the court return to a four-week trial term system in the hope that the longer term would encourage more people to settle cases ahead of time.

Simms also has said he wants to foster a cooperative spirit among the many agencies that affect the judicial system.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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