Local News

May 13, 2014

Superior Court judge race: Wilbanks aims to look at jury duty process

— Jim Wilbanks says he’s worked for this position all his professional life.

Wilbanks, who is the judge for Dalton Municipal Court, is seeking a seat as a Superior Court judge for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit that includes Whitfield and Murray counties. He faces incumbent David Blevins and Assistant District Attorney Scott Helton in the nonpartisan election on Tuesday.

“This is what I’ve worked for for certainly all of my professional life, which is as of this month 30 years as an attorney,” Wilbanks said. “But I also knew at a young age I wanted to be an attorney and a judge.”

Wilbanks worked as an attorney with local attorney Mike Brown before opening his own law office in 1990. He said he’s since handled “every type of case that would come before a Superior Court judge” and some that likely would not.

Wilbanks has held a number of appointed positions, including judge pro tem for the city of Varnell Municipal Court, associate judge for Juvenile Court in the Conasauga Circuit, and as a judge pro tem who fills in for Superior Court judges. He’s also been a judge pro tem for the Whitfield County Probate Court, Murray County Probate Court and Cohutta Municipal Court.

Wilbanks said he was recently called for jury duty in Superior Court. While he wasn’t selected, he said the experience made him more aware of some issues he hopes to pay special attention to if elected as judge.

“I think we need to look at the compensation of jury members, and I know that saying that conjures up all sorts of financial issues, so I’m certainly not in favor of any new taxes for any reason but again I’m sensitive to the value of people’s time,” he said.

Wilbanks said he understands individuals involved with the court sometimes have to call employers on potential jury members’ behalf to help them keep their jobs or remain in good standing. He said he would continue that practice and emphasize it more if needed.

He said he also hopes to work to expand the Conasauga Drug Court program that allows certain individuals to go through an extended rehabilitation program in lieu of going to jail. Wilbanks said he was on a team of individuals who helped develop the program in 2001 and occasionally sits in for Superior Court Judge Jack Partain who oversees it.

Wilbanks graduated from Murray County High School in 1977. He received his associate degree in criminal justice from Dalton State College in 1979, his bachelor degree in political science in 1981 from West Georgia College and his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1984.

The 54-year-old lives in Cohutta. He and wife Rhonda have two daughters. Alex, a senior at Coahulla Creek High School, plans to attend nursing school at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. Tiffany Amos is a registered nurse in a cardiac group in Acworth. Amos and her husband, Josh, have a daughter, Riley, 2.

When he isn’t practicing law, Wilbanks enjoys working outside on his family’s small farm in Cohutta. He attends First Baptist Church of Cohutta.

His campaign website is www.jimwilbanksforsuperiorcourt.com. He can be contacted at wilbankslaw@reagan.com or (706) 694-0055.

The salary for Superior Court judge is a little more than $140,000 a year with most of that provided by the state and about $20,000 supplemented by Whitfield and Murray counties.

Text Only
Local News
  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Investigation into MFG chemical accident continues

    An investigation is still ongoing after a MFG Chemical employee was injured earlier this month at a plant on Kimberly Park Drive.

    July 25, 2014

  • Judge sets $100,000 bond for Cohutta man accused of incest, molestation

    A Cohutta man charged with incest, aggravated sodomy and child molestation was granted a $100,000 bond over the prosecutor’s objection on Friday.

    July 25, 2014