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Judge's vacant seat draws two candidates

By Billy Corriher

With the recent news that Chief Magistrate Judge Michael Baird will not seek reelection, Jonesboro attorney Daphne Walker has announced her intention to seek the post.

Walker, of the Walker Law Group, said she is seeking Baird's seat because she would be an "approachable" judge in a court where people often serve as their own attorneys.

"I think it's important for the court to be accessible, to be a people's court," she said. "People should feel that elected officials treat them with the kind of respect they deserve when they enter the courtroom."

Walker said her work in community organizations, with leadership roles in the Riverdale Kiwanis Club and the Riverdale High School Mock Trial Team, also makes her a good candidate for chief magistrate judge.

"I do think it's important to not only be a public servant as an elected official, but to serve the public by working in the community," she said.

Even though her opposition, Associate Magistrate Court Judge Gloria Reed, has experience in the Magistrate Court, Walker said she is well qualified to serve as chief magistrate judge because of her well-rounded legal experience, having served as a prosecutor, civil defense attorney, and in other roles.

"When you look at the full experience of a person, you should look at their diversity of experience, not just the longevity of experience," she said.

The magistrate court also deals with "temporary protection orders" in domestic violence cases, and Walker said she has had experience working with men and women on such orders.

"I think what makes me a unique candidate is that I have seen both sides of the issue," she said.

Walker also worked as an attorney with the crimes against women and children division at Fulton County courts and helped craft legislation that dealt with child prostitution and made pimping a child a felony.

"(Before the legislation) they could get off with a $250 fine or something," she said. "We saw that the penalty should be a lot steeper."