Simms returns to court

awomack@macon.comNovember 5, 2012 

Superior Court Judge Howard Simms returned to the bench without fanfare Monday morning, presiding over a hearing to schedule felony trials for the week.

He entered a small Bibb County courtroom at about 9:45 a.m. and said “good morning” to the group of attorneys, courthouse staff and others gathered for the hearing.

Aside from chatter before court, there was no mention of the judge being absent from the courthouse for about six weeks while undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction.

On the evening of Sept. 22, Simms took a roadside breath test for alcohol at a license checkpoint in west Bibb County and registered 0.083, just above the legal limit to drive.

He was not charged with DUI, but a Bibb County deputy followed him home.

While Simms was away, senior judges Martha Christian and Tommy Day Wilcox, and others helped preside over his cases, said S. Phillip Brown, chief judge of the Macon Judicial Circuit.

“It’s tremendous” to have him back, Brown said of Simms.

There’s no plan to transfer cases involving alcohol offenses from Simms’ docket to another judge, he said.

“From everything I’ve been able to see and observe, he can handle what comes up,” Brown said.

If a concern arises, it will be addressed, he said.

After a day filled with hearings, Simms said, “I’m happy to be back, and I’m happy to be sober.”

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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