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Posted: February 10, 2014 8:14 p.m.

New municipal court judge sought

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Steve Hathorn

The city of Covington is looking for a new municipal court judge following last week’s resignation of former judge Steven Hathorn.

The city is accepting job applications until Feb. 28; the position has a salary of $28,000, plus full health insurance coverage. The judge is appointed directly by the Covington City Council.

Qualified candidates must possess a law degree from an accredited school, be a member in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia and have experience handling criminal trials as either a prosecutor or defense counsel; prior experience as a judge, arbitrator or mediator is preferred.

Human Resources Director Ronnie Cowan said the city had received four resumes as of Monday morning.
Interested applicants can submit a resume and cover letter, describing their current practice and abilities to perform the duties of municipal court judge, to Cowan at 2194 Emory St., Covington or via email at rcowan@cityofcovington.org.

Hathorn resigned voluntarily last Monday at the Covington City Council meeting after a court employee accused him of making racially prejudiced comments toward black defendants in court. He has also been accused of inappropriate comments toward Hispanic or Latino defendants

Hathorn told the council his comments were never intended to offend but said he was trying to help people, especially in the cases where he saw young black defendants become repeat offenders, giving up their chance to avoid a criminal history. Regarding Hispanic or Latino defendants, Hathorn said he has seen many examples of undocumented workers who pay their fines to avoid going through the court system.

Hathorn resigned to avoid dividing the council, he said.

The municipal court judge before that was not reappointed by the council over concerns of a romantic relationshipat work.

When asked if the city would do any additional vetting for the hire, Cowan said the human resources would follow the city council’s direction.

“Since this is a City Council appointment, the city’s human resources staff will follow the council’s direction as to the process for selecting a Municipal Court Judge. Unless we are directed otherwise, the city’s human resources staff will screen the applicants based on qualifications and experience,” Cowan said in an email. “We will identify at least three or more candidates as qualified, and we will conduct a general background as to their credentials, professional recommendations and personal history to the extent as allowed by law. These will be presented to the council for their consideration.”

Cowan said he has not received any official feedback regarding Hathorn’s resignation.

The municipal judge is appointed, or reappointed, annually. Municipal court is scheduled every Wednesday, with alternate days for arraignments and trials, and handles various violations of state traffic law, city ordinances, including housing and building code violations, and other misdemeanor offenses. The court is located in the Covington Police Department.

 

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