Oxendine outlines reasons
he wanted to become a judge
By Jim Oxendine
Retired Senior Judge
Special to GwinnettForum.com
MARCH 26, 2002 - - Why would anyone want to be a Superior
That's my assignment, and it is a difficult one. If I can take the
liberty to write in the first person, I can explain better what
I believe is the reason that this Judge wanted to be a Superior
The transition from lawyer to judge is a significant, life-changing
experience. The excitement accompanying the change in careers may
delay the realization, I have, that sooner or later the new judge
appreciates that he or she has taken on an awesome responsibility.
In making this transition, the lawyer enters the unique environment
of the judge---an environment of structural power, symbols, rituals
and human drama in which the judge will carry out his judicial responsibilities.
The Judge's environment has two major components.
1. Facilities: The County Courthouse itself is an integral
part of a Judge's working environment. Being brought up as a country
boy in rural North Carolina, the most imposing structure in my county
was the courthouse. When I was a young boy, I would go inside our
county courthouse many times. I was struck by the wonder and felt
the attention of its beauty. I felt that I was in a place where
all issues could be settled by an imposing figure wearing a black
robe. The judge's workplace is truly unique. In my opinion, a courtroom
should be a site equal to its noble purpose---a place where the
physical appearance and the psychological ambiance form an appropriate
environment for the administration of justice.
2. Staff: The staff of any judge is the fuel to the organizational
structure. Without this staff, it would be difficult, if not impossible,
to function in an efficient manner. In may case, I can say without
fear of contradiction that I have had the privilege of working with
one of the best staffs of any judge in any state will ever have.
When I came to the Superior Court bench, I was fortunate enough
to secure the services of an experienced judicial assistant that
had many years of experience in her field. She has continuously
participated in the professional origination where judicial assistant
continue their education, and became even more efficient and productive.
I had the privilege of having a calendar coordinator that we experienced
as well as anyone in the courthouse in working with attorneys and
formulating calendars so that we could move our cases in an orderly
fashion. My law clerk, which I hired and trained, is an example
of what law clerks ought to be. We have had the privilege of working
together for several years and we discuss the law and argue the
law and sometimes I win and sometimes she wins. Once we have gone
through this procedure, we believe that our reversal rate at the
appellate level would state that the system works well.
In addition to staff, a judge needs a court reporter, bailiffs
and deputies in order to function as a well organized court. There
are many other agencies and people who play an important role in
the courtroom, though some are not always present. This includes
the administrative office of the courts, and the jury manager. These
people are absolutely an essential part of the team to make a judge's
life enjoyable and above all to serve the citizens of this county
and state. It would be unkind and remiss not to mention the security
in the courtroom and in general for the courthouse, which is furnished
by our sheriff. These are hard working men and women truly dedicated
to the prospect of protecting the judges and the judicial side of
the courthouse. I believe the citizens of this county have been
the beneficiaries because of the people that I have had to work
with and their abilities and dedication.
In concluding this article, I would like to say that I believe
good lawyers make good judges, and that any judge who has had the
opportunity to have former jurors recognize the judge's ability
and congratulate him or her on the way he/she conducts the courtroom
is a part of this job that one can never measure in dollars and
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