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POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Gwinnett judicial races heating up for 2012

Two more Gwinnettians have stepped up in the races to replace retiring judges.

Marlene Duwell announced this week she would run for Probate Court judge, after serving for 18 years in that office.

Duwell began service as the court's first law clerk in 1995. She was appointed chief clerk in 1997, and has also served as a hearing officer for the court for more than a decade.

"There is no substitute for front-line experience in running a court, not to mention the invaluable judicial experience on the bench," said Duwell, who earned an engineering degree before going to law school at the University of Georgia. "For the past 18 years, I've watched this court grow from a dozen employees overseen by the judge, to a multi-level staff in two separate offices with a million-dollar budget. The changes required in response to two decades of Gwinnett's growth have been phenomenal, and I feel grateful that I've had a chance to grow with the court. My experience both in management of the court and on the bench makes me confident that I am ready to serve Gwinnett County as the next probate judge.

In addition to handling the administrative functions of the vital records and estate divisions of the court, the Peachtree Corners woman was appointed to hear hundreds of mental health cases, adult guardianships, guardianships of minors and probate matters, a press release said. As chief clerk, she is responsible for court filings as well as oversight of 18 clerks, budgetary planning and personnel matters.

Chris Ballar has also announced a race to replace Probate Court Judge Jim Clarke.Cuadra announces raceLawrenceville attorney Norman Cuadra is seeking a State Court judge seat next year.

Cuadra is a family and criminal law attorney, who has served as a municipal court judge for the city of Doraville.

The father of three lives in Suwanee, although his practice is in Lawrenceville.

"I look forward to serving the citizens of Gwinnett County as a State Court judge," he said in an email.

With next year's retirement of State Court Chief Judge Robert Mock, Emily Brantley has also announced a campaign.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via email at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.

For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/politics.