SPRINGFIELD — Stephen Sims has already made his point. He believes the qualifications and temperament he has developed over his 42-year legal career amply proves that he is the best candidate to sit on the bench of the Effingham County State Court.

“I’m not a politician,” Sims said. “Self-promotion was never my goal, unlike what people see lawyers on TV (in commercials).”

Sims, who has a private law practice in Springfield, is running to succeed Ronald K. Thompson. In January, Governor Brian Kemp selected Thompson to become the fourth Superior Court Justice for the Ogeechee Circuit.

Unlike most elected candidates, judicial candidates are not able to make many promises to voters. They are left to rely mainly on their reputation.

“I can’t change their taxes, I can’t pave their street, and I can’t end the war in Ukraine or anything like that,” Sims said. “Standing up as a judge is just a hard thing to do. Basically, it depends on qualifications and temperament.

Sims believes his counterparts in local legal circles are strong witnesses for him.

“Fortunately most of the lawyers I deal with at the Effingham Bar (Association) tell me they support me,” Sims said.

Sims had “a trial run” as a state court judge in recent months. Thompson signed an order naming him, Grady Reddick, Donald Sheppard and Melissa Calhoun as pro-tem judges before heading to his new position.

“I’m honored that Judge Thompson thought of me enough to give me the opportunity to be nominated for this position,” Sims said.

Sims, a graduate of Mercer University in 1980 and the Walter F. George School of Law, grew up in Jones County. He practiced in Savannah until 2004 when he began working in Effingham County. He intends to close his cabinet if elected.

Sims has spent most of his 42-year career handling civil cases. However, he is convinced that his knowledge of criminal law is more than sufficient to hold the position he is seeking.

“The state court is in charge of misdemeanors,” he said. “Criminally it’s anything under a year, which around here is traffic, common assault, robbery. display and that sort of thing. Ninety-nine percent of people who have a (criminal) connection to a state court will be there for a ticket. »

Sims’ experience was questioned by his opponent, Steve Yekel.

“I tried a lot of cases,” Sims said. “I tried as many cases as he did. I just prefer to let my work speak for itself.

If elected, Sims intends to operate the state court in the same manner that allowed Thompson to receive a promotion.

“I try to emulate him in every way,” Sims said.

Sims believes he was an example of professionalism during his temporary stint on the gavel in state court.

“I haven’t received any complaints in two and a half months from anyone,” he said.

Fairness is a courtroom goal, Sims said.

“All you want is an equal chance, in a criminal or civil case, to present your side according to the rules and let the jury decide – or let the judge decide if it’s up to them” , did he declare. “I just think it’s important to have a pleasant, non-selfish disposition.”

Sims thinks his low-key demeanor would serve him well as a state court judge.

“You can’t be focused on yourself,” he said. “You have to focus on the case and obviously your hands are tied for the most part on what goes into evidence because of the rules of evidence and the way things are done with the rules of court. If you insert yourself into a case because of your own ego, experience or whatever, you are not doing justice.

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