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Judge Thomas retires; Jackson to take his post

By Kay S. Pedrotti Judge William Thomas is officially retired as Lamar County magistrate, having presided over what he calls ‘the most userfriendly court of law in Georgia.’ Associate judge Karen Jackson was named by the Towaliga Judicial Circuit as his replacement. Jackson has been deputy clerk for almost 10 years with Judge Thomas and has been magistrate judge for more than five years. When Thomas was hospitalized last April and unable to work for five months, Jackson ‘stepped up and acted as virtual chief magistrate during that period,’ said Thomas. He added, ‘She has handson experience, intellect, temperament and understanding of the law that will make for a seamless transition, as was demonstrated earlier this year.’ Jackson has completed all annual judicial training for certification as a non-attorney magistrate, she said. She notes on-call service in criminal matters for nights, weekends and holidays has also helped make her the best-qualified person to succeed Thomas, whom she describes as a mentor and friend. ’He has truly served with honor and integrity on a daily basis,’ she said. ‘Judge Thomas applied his education and experience and has transformed this court. It’ll be my honor to continue that service to Lamar County.’ Musing on his 10 years on the bench, Thomas said he is most pleased and proud that he and his team have developed ‘the most user-friendly court of law in Georgia.’ He is not alone in that opinion, he notes, because various attorneys who use the court system have told him that: ‘I would tell them if they find differently, I want to know who the competition is.’ ’I try to remember what the late Dewaine Bell once told me ‘“ if you can’t be patient, you have no business being a judge. Folks may not leave happy but they generally feel the law was applied fairly and they’ve had their day in court,’ said Thomas. He commends his staff Jenni Sewell, Karen Jackson and R.M. Hice for assisting clients through the legal process and ‘making this court less intimidating.’ Thomas said recently he looked up the statistics and found out that in his 10 years, the court has performed 700 weddings, 600 by Thomas personally. ’That’s a lot of kids with daddies! I firmly believe all children need and deserve two parents, especially viable fathers who are nurturing, teaching breadwinners,’ Thomas was born and raised in Milner; graduated Milner High School, Pensacola Junior College and Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in history. He earned a master’s in public administration from the University of Oklahoma and his Juris Doctorate from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. He is retired from the U.S. Navy after serving 21 years as an intelligence officer. He worked in various management level positions in U.S. Civil Service, General Dynamics Corporation and Texas Instruments and practiced law in Fort Worth, Texas, before retuning to Milner ‘“ carrying accreditation as an attorney from both Texas and Georgia ‘“ after 40 years away. He and Jean, his wife of 52 years, live in Milner.

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