State solicitor, Superior Court judge seats contested in Houston County

WARNER ROBINS -- The July 31 ballot for Houston County voters includes two contested nonpartisan races related to courts.

Amy Smith, who was appointed state solicitor in 2011 to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Rob Tawse, faces a challenge from Warner Robins attorney Carl A. Veline Jr., who had also sought the governor’s appointment. The race is normally a partisan contest but is nonpartisan because it’s a special election.

Meanwhile, Warner Robins attorney Bonnie Michelle Smith is attempting to unseat Superior Court Judge George F. Nunn for a second time. Nunn, who has held the post for 26 years, soundly defeated Smith in the two-way contest in 2008 -- the first time he faced opposition while serving on the bench.

State solicitor’s race

Amy Smith, 42, said she believes voters should return her to the office because, “I have proven that I’m successful in the position.”

Among her accomplishments, Smith noted a reduction in a jury trial backlog of about 1,500 cases down to about 360 pending trial and the implementation of a case management system that allows for earlier review of the case file by prosecutors.

“My priority is to make sure that every case is reviewed and properly dealt with in the most efficient and fair way possible,” Smith said. “It’s a continuation of what we’ve already started.”

Smith, a career prosecutor, previously served 14 years with the Houston County District Attorney’s Office. As chief assistant district attorney, she supervised a staff of about 25 people. Prior to that, she was a senior assistant district attorney for about 10 years.

Veline, 64, who served as the state solicitor for Houston County for 10 years when it was a part-time post, said voters should elect him because, “I have the benefit of having done the job for an extended period of time.”

He was appointed in 1981 and served two subsequent terms through the end of 1990. In January 1991, the post became a full-time position

His priorities if elected include prioritizing cases, a pre-trial diversion program and returning to the case-log system that was previously in place under Tawse.

Veline also served as pro tem solicitor shortly after leaving the post to work in private practice and has served as State Court judge pro tem from 1991 to 2010.

Veline has practiced law in Houston County for 37 years as trial lawyer dealing with both felony and misdemeanor cases and managing his law office.

Tawse, who was elected in 2010 to another four-year term, resigned June 30, 2011 due to health issues. The term expires Jan. 1, 2013.

Superior Court judge race

Nunn, 68, was appointed in 1986 to serve his first four-year term as one of three judges in Houston County Superior Court. He has served as chief judge of the court since 1996.

“I feel like I’ve worked hard and done a good job for 26 years, and I have taken care of business, and I’ve tried to be a credit to the job,” Nunn said. “I’ve tried to be courteous and respectful to attorneys and parties alike. ... I feel like I have the experience and judicial demeanor to handle the job.”

Bonnie Smith, 40, is a Warner Robins attorney who has been practicing law for more than 11 years.

“I think I’d be a good judge,” Smith said. “I work hard. I’m fair, and I’m honest, and I try to see both sides of the issues.”

She earned her law degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan.

Smith was undaunted by her unsuccessful bid against Nunn four years ago, noting the success of former Houston County Commission Chairman Ned Sanders. Sanders initially won that post after numerous failed bids for elected office.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try again,” Smith said.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.