Lawton E. Stephens, H. Patrick Haggard, and Eric W. Norris, Judges of the Western Judicial Circuit, announce that Judge H. Patrick Haggard has been selected as Chief Judge of the Western Circuit effective August 1, 2017. The Western Circuit is comprised of Athens-Clarke and Oconee County. Judge David Sweat will continue as a Senior Judge, serving the Superior Courts throughout Georgia, having retired as Chief Judge of the Western Circuit effective July 31, 2017.
Judge Sweat was elected to office in 2003, replacing retiring Judge Joseph Gaines. Judge Sweat, who served as Chief Judge from January 1, 2013 until July 31, 2017, presided over the Treatment and Accountability Court and worked to implement several of the Western Circuit's technology projects. He also served as chair of the Council of Superior Court Judges’ Uniform Rules Committee, which has responsibility for developing rules of practice for superior courts across the state.
Judge H. Patrick Haggard was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2011 by Governor Nathan Deal to replace Judge Steve Jones, who was appointed as U.S. District Court Judge. Judge Haggard has been re-elected twice. An Athens native, he served for 28 years in private practice as a civil litigator and judge for several local courts, including Winterville Municipal Court, as well as Athens-Clarke County Juvenile Court and Municipal Court.
Since his appointment to the Superior Court bench, Judge Haggard has been an instrumental member of the judiciary, presiding over numerous criminal and civil proceedings and trials. In 2013, he created the Veterans Court, over which he has presided in addition to his regular Superior Court case docket.
Veterans Court integrates alcohol/drug and/or mental health treatment specific to veterans with effective judicial case management. Using a multi-phase approach similar to the other accountability courts, eligible participants are promptly placed into the program and receive assistance accessing existing services for veterans, specialized treatment and rehabilitation services, and frequent alcohol and drug tests. Typically, veteran mentors assist with the programs. The court has provided enhanced probation supervision and treatment for many veterans and has received extensive support at the state level for expansion during fiscal year 2018.
For more information on the Superior Court, visit www.athensclarkecounty.com/superiorcourt.