COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton's Superior Court judges have chosen a longtime prosecutor with "an extensive background in dealing with troubled youth" as the county's new Juvenile Court judge.
Candice Branche, who is currently an associate Probate Court judge, was appointed as Newton County Juvenile Court judge, Chief Judge John Ott announced today, Dec. 24.
State law requires the Alcovy Judicial Circuit's five Superior Court judges to make the four-year appointment of juvenile court judges in the circuit, which includes Newton and Walton counties.
Branche said she was "honored and excited to have been selected as the new chief Juvenile Court judge."
"I have spent the majority of my career working with youth in counseling environments, childcare or the legal system. I am pleased to have been chosen to continue working with the youth of Newton County and to serve my community in this new role," she said.
Branche earned an undergraduate degree in psychology and a master's degree in community counseling, both from the University of Georgia.
She directed youth and adult programs in two states, including working as director of needs assessment for the Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health and Charter Greenville Behavioral Health in South Carolina, and CPC Parkwood Hospital in Atlanta.
In South Carolina, she operated a school daycare center and oversaw a 15-person staff in a program for underprivileged children that allowed them to attend private daycare, Ott said.
Branche worked in the Newton County District Attorney's office for nine years as an assistant DA in the Juvenile Court and as the deputy chief assistant DA in Superior Court. She has served as an associate judge in Newton County Probate Court since August 2019.
The exclusive, original jurisdiction of juvenile courts in Georgia extends to delinquent children under the age of 17 and deprived or unruly children under the age of 18, according to the court's website.
Juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in cases involving capital felonies, custody and child support cases, and in proceedings to terminate parental rights.
The superior courts have original jurisdiction over those juveniles who commit certain serious felonies.
The Juvenile Court also has jurisdiction over minors committing traffic violations or enlisting in military services, consent to marriage for minors, and cases involving the Interstate Compact on Juveniles, the website stated.
Branche replaces Judge Jenny Simchick Carter, who was appointed on an interim basis until Dec. 31 after Judge Sheri Roberts died April 25.
"We cannot thank (Carter) enough for the job she did," Ott said.
Carter had been an associate Juvenile Court judge before her appointment to replace Roberts, who was the circuit's first female jurist when appointed in 2009.
The Superior Court judges also reappointed Walton County Juvenile Court Judge Stan Rhymer to serve another four-year term. Rhymer has worked as Juvenile Court judge in Walton since 2004.