By Patrick Yost editor
After 18 years Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Hugh Wingfield III announced last week that he would not seek another four year term. “It’s time to let someone younger take over,” he said from his Gray, Ga. office. Wingfield was appointed as judge for the circuit by then–governor Zell Miller in 1998. The 66–year–old judge said he always aspired to the position. “I knew in law school I wanted to be a superior court judge, I just didn’t know how to do it.” Wingfield received a B.S. from Rollins College and his law degree from Mercer University. He was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1982. After nearly two decades on the bench, Wingfield said that while circumstances and drugs have changed, “criminals remain the same.” “It’s busier now than it used to be,” he said.
The day of the announcement to prospective judge candidates announced their intention to seek the job. Senior Assistant District Attorney Dawn Baskin, 43, and 38–year–old Milledgeville attorney Amanda Petty both announced they would qualify the week of March 7 to run for Wingfield’s post. Baskin works out of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office in Gray and has been a prosecutor in the Circuit for 14 years. She has also, her resume states, practiced law for more than 21 years including civil and defense work. Baskin was 1 of 4 attorneys recommended by the Judicial Nominating commission to the Governor to fill two recent Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit judicial openings. Petty is currently a partner with the Milledgeville firm Cansino, Petty and Stribling and has been practicing law for more than a decade including criminal work, civil cases and domestic law. Petty was named a “Rising Star” by “Georgia Super Lawyers” in 2010 and has served as both secretary and treasurer of the Ocmulgee Bar Association and is past president of the Baldwin Bar Association. She is also a member of the Child Protection and Advocacy Section of the State Bar. Baskin said her wealth of varied experience would be a plus for both here candidacy and as a judge.
“I’ve been all over this circuit. I’ve got a good feel for this circuit.” Baskin said she had been contemplating running for the judgeship and was waiting to announce in deference to former Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Fred Bright’s decision to seek the judgeship. Citing health issues, Bright recently resigned his post as district attorney. Petty said since her work with the Ocmulgee Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) group after college, she has been inspired serve the Circuit. “I wanted to be able to do more,” she said In a press release, Petty states, “I am proud to announce my campaign for Superior Court Judge, I am running because I am invested in our community and am committed to the eight counties of this circuit. I now want to make a difference as judge… I know firsthand how the decisions made in our courtrooms affect our entire community and I have the right experience that qualifies me to do the job.” Qualifying for the post is open the week of March 7. Baskin is a 1993 graduate of Sweetbriar College and earned her law degree from the University of Georgia in 1996. She is married with three children. Petty is graduate of Georgia College and State University and earned her law degree from Mercer University in 2005. She is married with two children.