VALDOSTA — Lowndes County will soon have a new juvenile judge for the first time in approximately 40 years.
James Council has been appointed to take the position of juvenile justice in the Lowndes County Juvenile Court come Oct. 1, when Judge Wayne Ellerbee will retire after four decades in the position.
Council was selected from a pool of 12 applicants to fill the spot that Ellerbee will vacate, said Southern Circuit Judge Harry Altman. A committee of superior court judges, which included Altman, vetted the 12 applicants and ultimately selected Council.
“We look forward to James. He’ll be one heck of a judge,” said Altman. “I have a lot of respect for him. I appreciate the interest and abilities of all of the others who applied. But Mr. Council was at the top of the list.”
Council has been a licensed attorney since 1979, according to a copy of his resume he submitted to The Times. It states that he was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals and the United States District Court of the Middle District of Georgia.
“As evidenced by my legal career, if appointed part-time juvenile court judge, I will apply the law impartially in each case and employ a common-sense approach for the betterment of society,” Council noted in a letter to the selection committee. He eared his juris doctorate in 1976 at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas. He served as judge pro tem for the City of Valdosta Municipal Court for more than 20 years and currently functions as the municipal court judge for Morven and Barwick.
“I am capable of striking a balance between punishment and the ultimate goal of rehabilitation. The gravity of each offense will be considered, as well as the character and characteristics of each youth,” said Council.
Altman said the justices had been searching for juvenile judges to fill recent vacancies in Lowndes County and in the Echols and Brooks county districts.