1/31/2012 - Allen Wigington announced that he will run to keep his position as Chief Magistrate Judge for Pickens County. Wigington was appointed as a judge in the Magistrate Court in 2008 by Judge Larry Ray. When Judge Ray left the office, Wigington was selected by Appalachian Circuit Superior Court Judges to serve as the Chief Judge for the remainder of the term. According to a statement made by Judge Brenda Weaver at Wigington’s swearing-in ceremony, all Superior Court judges in the circuit unanimously supported Wigington’s appointment. “We were all completely in agreement that there was only one person who would do the job in a manner that we wanted it done,” she said.
The Magistrate Court has the smallest staff, but in numbers of cases is the busiest court in Pickens County. Since 2008, the workload in the Magistrate Court has steadily grown and the court now has surpassed the Probate Court in the amount of cases handled in a year. Magistrate Court issues all arrest warrants, search warrants, holds bond hearings for those under arrest, hears all civil claims under $ 15,000 and all landlord/tenant cases. “There is no substitute for front-line experience in running a court, and having judicial experience is critical as well, ” said Wigington. “The Magistrate Court is the gateway to the justice system for most people. It demands a fair, impartial and competent Chief Judge ” says Wigington.
The Chief Magistrate of Pickens County is elected every four years and serves as the administrative head of the Magistrate Court. During his time in the Magistrate Court, Judge Wigington has been able to increase productivity and reduce the backlog of cases to almost zero. As Chief Judge, Wigington has expanded the role of technology to improve efficiency of the Court. Currently, plaintiffs can file claims electronically and defendants can answer electronically. This eliminates the need a courthouse visit to complete this administrative task. The Court has worked law enforcement and outside vendors to develop an online warrant system to be implemented early in 2012 that will allow law enforcement personnel to apply for and receive arrest warrants from remote locations without having to leave their duties and come in to the courthouse.
Prior to his appointment to the Magistrate Court, Judge Wigington served for a number of years in law enforcement, most recently as chief deputy in the Sheriff’s office. He holds degrees in Social Work, Criminal Justice and Justice Administration. Judge Wigington serves as an elected representative on the statewide executive committee for the Council of Magistrate Court Judges, and he is a member of the faculty for the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education of Georgia, which is responsible for the continuing education for all of Georgia’s judges.
Judge Wigington is a member of Jasper United Methodist Church, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Children’s Center, and a member of the Board of Directors at Pickens Animal Rescue. He and his wife Rosie, who teaches in Pickens County, have two children.
“I ask first for your prayers and then for your votes as we go through this election. I plan to maintain the same high level of professionalism and fair and impartial administration of justice that you have come to expect from your Magistrate Court” said Wigington. Judge Wigington will be on the July 31, 2012 Republican Primary Ballot.