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Chief magistrate judge won't run

By Ed Brock

Clayton County's Chief Magistrate Judge Michael Baird is trading in his black robe for a professor's blackboard.

On Friday Baird decided not to run for another term after being offered a full-time position teaching law at Clayton College and State University. A CCSU alumni, Baird has already been teaching at the college part time for more than a decade.

"It's really what I've done for the past 11 years," Baird said. "I really enjoy teaching."

Baird had already been considering teaching full time after his next term had expired in 2008, assuming he re-took the position in the upcoming November election. The surprise offer from CCSU on Friday morning made him decide to cancel his re-election campaign for this year.

He will refund all the contributions made to that campaign. He will start his new position in January after his current term is finished.

Baird has been chief magistrate judge for eight years and says he's proud of the changes he's made in that time, such as his "One-stop shopping" child abandonment project. He will miss the people who have worked for and with him the most.

"Clayton County is blessed to have a group of very hard working people in magistrate court who go far beyond what it takes to keep this court running," Baird said.

Those magistrate court employees and the judges who served with Baird spoke highly of him.

"He has just improved the magistrate court tremendously and really upgraded the quality of work," Judge Bob Dolph said. "He was fair and impartial like he should be."

Judge D. Keith Scott said he wishes Baird the best in his new career, and recently appointed Judge Gloria Reed said Baird made the court approachable, a "people's court."

"I couldn't ask for a better place to work," Reed said.

Reed also said she plans to run for the chief magistrate judge seat.