LAWRENCEVILLE -- While the five attorneys competing for a Superior Court judgeship this July were full of compliments for each other during a forum Monday, the five campaigning for a State Court slot brought some verbal fireworks to the event.
During the event, organized by the Gwinnett GOP, even though the races are nonpartisan, slights about experience and integrity rocked the campaigns for the lower court.
Emily Brantley, a trial attorney, said she had the most experience of the group with civil issues such as product liability and medical malpractice, but later a competitor Norman Cuadra knocked her for rarely handling jury trials in the Gwinnett State Court.
But many of the punches were reserved for Richard Winegarden, a former Superior Court judge who lost a race in 2008 to retain his seat.
"If we follow (Winegarden's) logic, everybody in this room will vote for Obama because Gov. Romney has no presidential experience," Brantley said, drawing whispers from the mostly Republican audience.
Pam Britt, a defense attorney and Girl Scout volunteer, also pointed out Winegarden's past loss.
"I won seven elections and I'm proud of that," Winegarden countered, adding that a comparison to Democrat Barack Obama is "a stretch," since he is a conservative who had some of the toughest sentencing in the courthouse.
The fifth candidate in the State Court race, which will replace retiring Judge Robert Mock, is Greg Lundy, who works as a staff attorney in Superior Court.
The sentiments were much lighter in the five-person race to replace Superior Court Judge Dawson Jackson, who is also retiring.
"Isn't Gwinnett County so lucky to have the quality of campaigns and candidates that have been before you tonight?" one candidate Kathy Schrader said.
All five touted varied experience -- Tracey Mason Blasi, who promises to continue a family legacy that dates back to the 1820s of serving Gwinnett honorably, Chris McClurg, an attorney who once worked as a CFO for a major company, Schrader who sits on the Governors Office of Children and Families board, Giles Sexton, who has handled varying types of cases, all the way up to murder, and Robert Walker, a former military lawyer who now serves as a full-time Magistrate judge.
"This is a historic time in Gwinnett County," Schrader said, pointing out that the July 31 election will replace three judges, including retiring Probate Court Judge Jim Clarke. "THis is a great opportunity for innovative leadership in Gwinnett County.