By Joel Hall
The Jonesboro City Council voted unanimously on Monday to appoint Steve Lister, of Lister and Holt, LLC, as the city's new municipal court judge.
Lister replaces Judge William West, who resigned on July 31, after serving as the city's judge for 15 years. At the time of his resignation, West said his action was largely motivated by attempts to intefere with his handling of court business by city officials, including the mayor.
Lister, whose firm has offices at 102 1/2 South Main St., in Jonesboro, and 115 Atlanta St., in McDonough, has been practicing criminal law in Georgia since 1981. In that time, he has served as an assistant district attorney in Clayton County, and also as a municipal judge for the City of Forest Park.
Lister will take the bench this Thursday, before the next weekly session of Jonesboro Municipal Court.
Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said Lister was recommended for the position because of his experience. "He'll start as quick as we can swear him in, and we'll do that between now and Thursday morning," said Maddox.
The Jonesboro Municipal Court meets every Thursday to enforce traffic laws and city ordinances. West served as the head of that court until July 31, when he abruptly resigned.
In a letter sent to Maddox and the city's six councilmen, West wrote that he could no longer sit on the bench "without interference from the Mayor and certain members of the City Council." He alleged that "the mayor wanted to dictate to me how to handle cases."
According to Councilman Roger Grider, the mayor and council were only trying to find ways to alleviate the city's case backlog.
Grider believes Lister is "pretty efficient" in managing cases and should serve as a suitable replacement for West.
"[Lister] came very recommended by both our city attorney and our solicitor," said Grider. "He has filled in for Judge West numerous times, and we are all familiar with him."
Lister could not be reached for comment.