SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Considered the gateway court to the local judicial system, the Recorder’s Court of Chatham County handles traffic violations and code offenses.
But that’s not all it does, according to the two men running for the open judgeship.
Joe Huffman and Richard Sanders are facing off in Tuesday’s runoff.
“What I view as the most important part of Recorder’s Court becomes their ability to handle misdemeanors,” said Sanders.
Huffman said: “A recorder’s court judge can get involved in having conditions and follow through on bond, especially for cases that might involve crimes of violence, addiction and trauma.”
Both Huffman, a Garden City municipal judge, and Sanders, Bloomingdale municipal judge, bring years of legal experience to their campaigns.
Huffman is a former cop, prosecutor and defense attorney. Sanders is also an attorney and part-time judge in several area cities, including the Juvenile Court.
Sanders said he tries to “use all of that, and bring all that to the table.”
“If I’m lucky enough to win the election, I think all of those experiences will allow me to hit the ground running,” he added.
“All of my experience,” Huffman said, “has instilled in me a sense — taught even at an earlier age, with my mom as a school teacher — that you have to treat people, human beings, like they’re a human being.”
The Recorder’s Court doesn’t handle trials for cases involving murder or rape, but both candidates say, if elected, they can help guide the judicial response to Savannah’s epidemic of violence, particularly through bond conditions.
“You can’t, as a judge, order someone to get anger management counseling treatment, for example, and then hope and pray three years later when they show up in court, because that’s when the case is coming back to court, that they’ve done those things,” says Huffman.
Sanders’ take is that “it may be that money is the ultimate thing that incentivizes the individual not to commit another offense, but it may also be the conditions to go get treatment, to I mean you know to wear ankle monitor, right?”
Both candidates are running for the chief Recorder’s Court judge seat left vacant by Judge Tammy Stokes, who won her election earlier this month for Superior Court judge.