For local defense attorney Gary Washington, seeking the judgeship in Rockdale County Superior Court would just be the next step in a 23-year legal career centered around pursuing fairness and due process in law.
Washington recently announced he would be running for Superior Court judge next year, which will be vacated by Superior Court Judge Sidney Nation. This is the first time Washington is running for elected office.
“Personally, I’m passionate for fairness and justice in the courtroom,” said Washington. “What that means to me is that every individual receives equal treatment under the law and due process.”
He said his work as a defense attorney, defending the rights of his clients no matter the charge, helps protect the rights of everyone. “In doing that I’m fighting for the rights of people who have never come before the court but someday might and would want to know they would be treated with due process.”
He commended Rockdale’s legal community. “I’m very impressed with every aspect of it, from the clerk's office to the district attorney to public defender,” he said. “Judge Irwin has an open door policy. Judge Nation is very receptive to creative solutions. That’s something I would want to maintain, especially with the demographics changing both in size and characteristic. As a judge I can ensure each person that comes into the court I reside over is treated equally no matter what their circumstances might be.”
He added that being a judge has not been a lifelong goal of his. He said the idea was planted when he was approached by several local attorneys to run for the position. “Given the vacancy that’s going to occur, that just seemed like the next natural and best step, not just for me, but also for Rockdale County. I believe I have not just the temperament but the educational background and life experiences that would benefit the judicial system.”
Washington began his legal career as a clerk for federal district court judge Matthew J. Perry in South Carolina, whom Washington counts as a mentor. When Perry recently passed away at the age of 90, Washington served as a pall bearer.
Washington also worked as staff counsel in the U.S. Court of Appeals Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Va. and moved to Georgia in 1989 to date the woman who would become his wife, Evetta, and was licensed in Ga. in 1991.
The 55-year-old Bronx, NY native originally attended the LaGuardia High School of Music and Art, on which the movie “Fame” was based, playing clarinet and saxophone. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University studying music and political science and went onto Rutgers Law School.
The shift between music and law was not a tremendous leap, he said. “Many of the same perspectives and skills you use in music lend themselves to creative advocacy. Music is about being creative. In terms of tacking legal issues, often times, it’s important to think outside of the box.”
In addition to classical music and the clarinet, Washington is also passionate about playing racquetball. He even changed his honeymoon plans at the last minute to go to a venue in Jamaica that offered racquetball instead of Hawaii.
Washington has a 16-year-old daughter who attends Salem High School. He is a member of the Salem PTSA, a member of Antioch Lithonia Missionary Baptist Church, and is vice president of the McCart Landing Homeowner’s Association.
He is also a member of the Ga. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, NewRock Legal Society, South Carolina bar, Georgia bar, and National Criminal Defense College in Macon, Ga.
For more information or to contact Washington, call (770) 761-7737.