SYLVANIA, Ga. (WSAV) -The Ogeechee Judicial Circuit will soon have judges dedicated to handling juvenile court cases. That area includes Bulloch, Effingham, Jenkins, and Screven counties.
One of the newly appointed juvenile court judges Donald Sheppard said adding the two new positions to the circuit will help ease workloads for existing superior judges and benefit juveniles. It will help by speeding up the process for those cases.
“Juvenile court cases are very time sensitive. When you have a child that has been detained in the YDC or if you have a child that has been removed from the home it is very important that it’s heard expeditiously,” Sheppard said.
The judges will hear criminal cases and those that involve the department of family and children services. The positions are part-time with both judges being able to continue their private practice as lawyers. However, Sheppard said it will not create a conflict of interest.
“There are cases where we will have conflicts where we represented the parent and of course we can’t hear those cases. The superior court judges have kindly said they would continue those cases if we ever run into a conflict,” Sheppard explained.
The Ogeechee Judicial Circuit was one of the last in the state without a separate court for children. Sheppard said it’s exciting to be one of the first people to have this job in the area and help bring about change.
“It’s an honor bestowed upon us and there’s a lot of pride that goes along with that, but it’s certainly a great honor to serve the circuit,” Sheppard said.
The juvenile court judges will officially start their duties on July first and begin hearing cases a few days later.