Over the past few weeks, The Insider has written a lot about the race between Superior Court Judge Carl Brown and local attorney Chris Nicholson.
The fact that Nicholson is attempting to unseat a well-respected judge, who has served for more than 34 years as both a Superior Court judge and chief judge of Augusta’s municipal court, is somewhat laughable.
After all, the disciplinary arm of the State Bar of Georgia is currently recommending that Nicholson be suspended from practicing law for at least two years.
Let’s just say, it’s probably not the best time for Nicholson to decide to run for Superior Court judge.
But there is another extremely important judicial race that hasn’t gotten the full attention it deserves.
This Tuesday, May 24, voters will decide who will replace Augusta Superior Court Judge Carlisle Overstreet’s seat on the bench: either Richmond County State Court Judge John Flythe or local attorney Evita Paschall.
And here’s the problem: Richmond County State Court Judge John Flythe is too nice of a guy to publicly criticize his opponent.
But The Insider can’t remain silent in this particular race because the outcome is too important to simply grin and bear it.
The truth of the matter is, Flythe is far more qualified to be this area’s next Superior Court judge than his competitor, local attorney Paschall.
That’s a fact.
The Insider is not trying to be mean or unfair.
It’s just time to get real.
While Paschall might be an outstanding community leader and a good bankruptcy attorney, that doesn’t make her ready to be a Superior Court judge.
Especially if you consider Flythe’s experience as both a lawyer and a sitting judge.
After graduating from University of Georgia School of Law, Flythe was hired by then-District Attorney Danny Craig as an assistant district attorney in the Augusta Judicial Circuit in 1999.
Working for the district attorney’s office under Danny Craig, he lived and breathed the law.
“It was a lot of hard work, but I really enjoyed it,” Flythe recently told the Metro Spirit. “We were held to very high standards by the judges. We had to be ready on a lot of cases and we were expected to act like lawyers should act. It was a very good way to begin my career.”
Flythe stayed at the district attorney’s office for more than two years until he eventually opened up his own practice where he focused on family law.
After serving a few years as the associate judge of the Grovetown Municipal Court, then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Flythe as a State Court judge in 2010.
Over the past six years as state court judge, Flythe has taken his role in the courtroom very seriously and understands that some of the cases that come before him can change a person’s life.
“Experience matters most,” Flythe said at a recent political forum. “These jobs are incredibly important and Superior Court judges have the everyday opportunity to impact people’s lives in a very meaningful way. When you are dealing with people’s children and you’re dealing with their money and you are dealing with their freedom, those things are the things that matter to them most. And I will tell you that experience matters most in selecting a judge.”
As a sitting judge that has handled about 50 jury trials, Flythe has a record of being tough on crime, but also empathic when dealing with difficult family matters and fully willing to listen to all sides before taking action in a case.
Flythe’s service on the bench is beyond reproach.
So, what about Paschall?
If you’ve been to any of the local political forums, you’ve heard Paschall boast about her more than 40 years of practicing law. She tells audiences that she has served as an assistant district attorney, assistant solicitor of state court, a solicitor of magistrate court and a municipal court judge during her career.
All of that sounds great, except Paschall served in the district attorney’s office almost 40 years ago, from 1976 until 1979.
She served as a municipal court judge from 1994 until 1998.
That was 18 years ago.
Since that time, Paschall has specialized in primarily bankruptcy law.
Of course, Paschall is busy telling voters that she is ready to be a Superior Court judge and handle all the serious legal matters that come before her.
But if voters search the Richmond County Clerk of Court’s database under criminal cases, Paschall has only handled about half a dozen cases in the past several decades.
A similar search of John Flythe’s experience in court will show more than 90 criminal cases that he has handled before a list of judges including James Blanchard Jr., Robert Allgood, Danny Craig, Michael Annis, Duncan Wheale, Sheryl Jolly and Wade Padgett.
So, who do you think has more experience?
Paschall, who has handled about six criminal cases in the past few decades, or Flythe, who has handled more than 90 criminal cases as an attorney and ruled over about 50 jury trials as a State Court judge?
Flythe is also playing by the rules of a nonpartisan race, while Paschall is openly telling some audience members in a political forum that she is a lifelong Democrat.
That’s totally wrong, but Paschall probably saw the recent reports of the advance voting turnout in Richmond County that indicated that voters at the polls were overwhelmingly Democrat.
With a grand total of more than 6,447 voters taking advantage of advance voting, approximately 4,530 voters were registered Democrats.
Democrats killed in early voting compared to the Republicans in Richmond County.
So, no wonder Paschall has turned a nonpartisan judicial race very political, even though it breaks every rule in the book.
Now, you’ll also probably hear Paschall brag about being a municipal court judge over the next few days (even though it was almost two decades ago) and tell voters that she is ready to sit on the bench again.
“I have judicial experience,” Paschall said at a recent political forum. “I even have a robe. All you need to do is elect me because I’m prepared.”
Just because you have a dusty robe hanging up in your closet, doesn’t mean you’re ready to be a Superior Court judge.
So, it’s time for voters to look at the two candidates’ qualifications and experience and really decide who they would want sitting on the bench if they were a defendant.
The choice is clear.
Judge John Flythe needs your vote this Tuesday.