Friday, April 18, 2008

Whitlock Announces for Probate Judge (Fayette County)

As an attorney who has been practicing law since 1977, I am familiar with the court system here in Fayette County. Thirty years ago, when I began my law practice, things were much simpler. Granted, with the influx of people and the over-all growth of the county, our court needs have also grown.

Martha Stephenson, our current, well-respected and able Probate Judge has announced her retirement after this year. And I am announcing my candidacy for the office of Fayette County Probate Court Judge.

A lot of things have changed since I first opened my law office. I remember my first court appearance in the fall of 1977. It was a non-contested divorce and I asked then-Clerk of Superior Court Bud Ballard if he could call my case at the end of the non-contested calendar so I could see how the other lawyers handled their cases. Mr. Bud obliged.

That act has stood in my memory a long time. I remember when things were simpler and easier. Seems like all of the candidates for office now, whether local, state or federal, want to promise "change." The trouble is, not all change is good.

Some changes are envisioned by me however, in the way I would run the office if elected.
Remembering that the "quality" of lifestyle is important in our community, I want to maintain a quality court system, one that our county can continue to be proud of. I absolutely believe that the system should be professional. But it should be operated as simply as possible. A lot of our neighboring court systems are unnecessarily complicated; nobody seems to know quite what to do next; the citizens using the courts feel intimidated; and when they come out of court, they're not exactly sure what happened.

Simplicity is a quality that I love. It might sound idealistic, but that's okay with me. It's kind of like being perfect - while no one is perfect, the ones who are really trying to be that way come a whole closer that those who never try.

Probate judgeships are hard to campaign for, basically because most people know very little about the court and what it does. I know that because one of the questions that often is asked of me is, "What does the Probate Court do?"

Basically it handles routine matters such as applications for marriage licenses, pistol carrying permits, passports, as well as wills, estates and guardianships. Although the Probate Court does not get involved in high-profile crime cases, what goes on there affects each and every one of us greatly, in an individual and personal way. What goes on in the Probate Court might not make the evening news, and the newspapers may not carry a story about it, yet the activities in this court do have an impact on you and your family.

With the great advances in medicine and medical care, today's Baby Boomers are living longer. But the lack of a cure for Alzheimer's Disease, the debilitating results of an auto accident, or the effects on the body and mind of other diseases or syndromes, dictates that we have someone whom we love and trust be appointed as our guardian. The probate court handles these cases. That demands a judge who is fair, impartial and caring.

Making judicial decisions is not always easy, especially if one is a caring person. I know, because for about 12 years I served as a Municipal Judge for the cities of Fayetteville and Riverdale. Although finding justice in a given situation can be challenging, I never found the approach to decision making difficult. I always tried to treat people the way I would want to be treated. One person is just as important as any other.

When I took over my first judgeship, I looked for ways to make it simpler. Much of what I had learned in the first system was useful in simplifying the second system. If you elect me as your next Probate Judge my first order of business will be to look for ways to simplify the workings of the office. As soon as the 2010 census data is officially released, Fayette County Probate Court will be given jury trial jurisdiction. This added feature could be fairly complicated to a system that has never had that authority. I say "let's keep it simple."

I have lived in Fayette County for about 25 out of the last 32 years. I am married to Joanne Ellison Whitlock and we live about twelve minutes from the Fayette County Justice Center. As the Probate Judge for Fayette County I would be able and available to help the citizens of our county with their needs in the Probate Court office. I promise to be fair and impartial, and I also promise to "work hard to keep it simple. " You deserve a court system that you can believe in, one that you understand, and a Probate Court that you can be proud of. That's not asking too much.

I'm asking for your vote on July 15, 2008, in the Republican Primary. Fayette Countians have fought hard to maintain a quality lifestyle for their families. We need to continue with a quality court system in order to enjoy a quality lifestyle. I will do my very best, to provide the best, for the best... The Citizens of Fayette County.

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