Judge Lamar Davis Takes Recall Judge Status in Bankruptcy Court

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Lamar W. Davis Jr. upgraded this month to “reminder judge” status, which means he will continue to work as a full-time judge, but clears the way for an additional judge in the 43-county Southern District of Georgia Bankruptcy Court. .

“I would really like to keep working, but we need a fourth judge,” Davis, 65, said.

By choosing recall status with two years remaining on his 14-year contract, Davis will be able to continue working, but only for a renewable three-year term.

The new judge could be on the job by next summer, U.S. District Chief Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said.

The notice to candidates will be sent at the end of July or the beginning of August.

As chief justice, Wood will serve on the selection committee made up of chief justices from the districts of Georgia, Alabama and Florida who will interview applicants and recommend “finalists” to the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. United States, based in Atlanta, whose judges will make the appointment. .

“I think (Davis) sets the standard for what a bankruptcy judge should be,” Wood said, calling Davis “fair, even-tempered, diligent and intelligent and he has a genuine respect for the law and his country and he was for decades, so I’m glad he’s still serving.

Davis served on the bench for 26 years.

Meanwhile, a fourth full-time judge could be on the horizon.

The United States Courts Administrative Office conducts nationwide surveys to assess caseload levels and determine new judgeships to recommend to Congress.

The last such investigation was conducted in late 2010 and found that the Southern District was eligible for an additional judge.

Davis said this process traditionally takes place every two years, so the next survey is scheduled for the end of this year.

There’s been a strong upward trend in filings in the 24 years he’s been on the bench, Davis said.

When Davis became a judge in 1986, the total number of filings was 3,574 which he shared with Herman Coolidge, a recall judge, for 1,787 cases each.

Last year, the total number of filings was 9,590 or 3,196 when split among the three judges.

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Davis was a 39-year-old attorney when he was sworn in for a 14-year term as the district’s new bankruptcy judge in May 1986.

During his tenure, the court grew to three full-time judges – John Dalis, now in Brunswick, who started in October 1987, and Chief Justice Susan Barrett in Augusta, who started in March 2006.

Along the way, Davis served as Chief Justice or Administrative Judge twice and, thanks to technology, was able to run her business more efficiently while keeping court staff numbers steady.

Public service career

One constant had been Patsy Burkhalter, a 40-year veteran of the court and Davis’ legal aide since becoming a judge.

“He inherited me,” she said. “I’m staying.”

Davis was working for the law firm of Miller Simpson and Tatum and doing a significant amount of bankruptcy work when Judge Coolidge took up recall judge status in 1985.

Davis had previously served one term in the Georgia General Assembly and was active in Republican politics.

“I had an interest in public service,” Davis said. “It was just a good moment in my career.”

Looking back, he does not regret his decision to become a judge, nor is he disappointed that he is retiring from this post.

“It was my hope that a career position would take me to retirement,” Davis said.

“To have been given the privilege of serving as a judge, of helping to advance and preserve the integrity of the legal system, is the highest honor a lawyer can receive and it is one I would not trade never against another vocation.”

Terri S. Tomasini