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Alexander sworn in as Gwinnett clerk of court

Special Photo Probate Judge Jim Clarke shakes new Clerk of Court Richard Alexander's hand, after giving him the oath of office. Alexander replaces Tom Lawler, who died last week.

Special Photo Probate Judge Jim Clarke shakes new Clerk of Court Richard Alexander's hand, after giving him the oath of office. Alexander replaces Tom Lawler, who died last week.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- The occasion was somber, as Gwinnett judges congratulated the new Clerk of Court Richard Alexander moments after he was sworn into office Friday.

Alexander replaces Tom Lawler, the former district attorney who was responsible for court records for nearly 15 years. Lawler died Nov. 23 after a battle with prostate cancer.

"Making a transition isn't always easy under these circumstances," Alexander said, praising Lawler for his work to revolutionize the clerk's office, which is responsible for records from land deeds to grand jury presentments. "It's such a vital office. ... It's such a good operation (that) I don't see any changes to come immediately."

After a stint in the Air Force, Alexander became a Gwinnett County police officer before using the G.I. bill to go to law school.

He was first hired to work in the law firm of now-Superior Court Judge Warren Davis, and later worked as a part-time judge in Davis's Magistrate Court.

"I know good legal talent when I see it," Davis said, after witnessing Alexander take the oath of office from Probate Court Judge Jim Clarke.

Just over a year ago, Alexander took a job as Lawler's chief deputy.

A father of two grown daughters, Alexander will fill Lawler's position until the end of the term. He said he plans to seek the office in next year's election.