Nominee submitted to fill Bibb Magistrate Court vacancy

awomack@macon.comFebruary 4, 2014 

Bibb County Chief Magistrate William C. “Billy” Randall has submitted a nomination to the circuit’s Superior Court judges to fill a vacancy created by the death of Judge Cedric Leslie.

Leslie, an associate magistrate since 2005, died Jan. 25 after a battle with kidney failure, Randall said.

He described Leslie as a “no-nonsense” judge who sometimes “could be pretty hard” on the people who appeared before him.

Although he had been ill for a couple of years, Leslie continued to work in some capacity until about a month before his death, Randall said.

Since then, a backlog has started to build in cases needing preliminary hearings and bond hearings, he said. The court is already operating with one fewer magistrate than it did four years ago.

In 2011, Randall nominated former Magistrate Selinda D. Handsford to fill a judgeship vacancy, but the circuit’s Superior Court judges revoked their initial approval after receiving additional information.

Handsford was indicted in 2004 after allegations surfaced that she had accepted “love offerings” to perform weddings at the courthouse during work hours. The criminal case against her ultimately was dropped. She resigned and paid restitution.

The position was frozen by county commissioners during budget talks for fiscal year 2012, saving the county about $38,000.

Randall said he plans to ask permission from county commissioners to fill the position during the next budget negotiations.

The court is operating with two magistrates hearing criminal cases and Associate Magistrate William Shurling filling in at times to ensure that people newly arrested can see a judge at the jail six days a week.

“Right now, I’m sort of in a tight” spot, Randall said.

Randall said he hopes to receive approval from the Superior Court judges this week so the nominee can attend a training session later this month.

He declined to name the nominee, but he said she has undergraduate and graduate degrees in criminal justice.

The nominee is not a lawyer, but she can learn what she needs to know through training, Randall said. He said his budget doesn’t allow him to pay what a lawyer would likely expect.

“I try to get the best and the brightest I can,” he said.

The two magistrates still on the job are not lawyers. Randall and Shurling have legal degrees.

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