Roswell Municipal Judge Candidates

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Name: John Monroe

City of residence: Roswell

Occupation: I am a sole-practitioner attorney, doing a combination of litigation of violations of constitutional rights, criminal defense and general civil litigation.

Family: My wife of 26 years and I live in Roswell. We have two grown children and two grandsons.

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/John-Monroe-for-Roswell-Judge/761371887208816

Public/candidate email address: jrm@johnmonroelaw.com

Why do you want to run?

I want to run for Roswell municipal judge to improve the Roswell court system.

What makes you the best candidate?

I have a variety of experiences that help me see all perspectives. I used to be a police officer, so I know what it’s like to be out there patrolling. I do criminal defense work, so I see the experience of litigants in the system. I have years of litigation experience, so I understand what it’s like to have to go to court and that paying lawyers to sit there waiting for a case to be called is expensive. I believe strongly in using elections to select judges, and I have considerably more legal experience than all of my opponents.

What goals do you wish to accomplish if elected?

If elected, I have three main goals: 1) To streamline the court experience for as many people as possible. Having to go to court means taking time away from work, school and other activities. We should make every effort to minimize the amount of time people have to spend in court, and to minimize the number of times they have to go. Time spent in court is lost productivity, higher costs to the city to pay court staff and more money in legal fees for people who have legal representation; 2) To improve the warrants process. We all have an interest in seeing to it that warrants that are issued are appropriate and valid. Good cases can be lost by the city because of an invalid search warrant, and every time a warrant is executed, a person’s right to be free from government intrusion is infringed upon. We owe it to ourselves to make sure those infringements only happen when necessary and constitutionally appropriate; 3) To avoid judicial activism. Judges do not and should not make the law. They apply the law to the facts of the case and within the bounds of the state and federal constitutions.

Name:Melanie Ellwanger

City of residence: Roswell

Occupation: Attorney

Family: Husband Jamie and three dogs

Website: www.JudgeMelanie.com

Public/candidate email address: mmellwanger@gmail.com

Why do you want to run?

The thought of one day running for judge came to me during my first year of law school. The idea was strengthened when I was a prosecutor. I knew that one day I wanted to be the person listening to and deciding the cases. I decided then to focus my career toward that goal. The true moment of realization came when the Roswell Municipal Court bench became vacant. I knew this was the opportunity I had been waiting for. I love our city and now I have the knowledge and experience the job requires.

What makes you the best candidate?

Since becoming a member of the Georgia bar, I have practiced criminal, traffic and DUI law exclusively as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. I have traveled across the state and acquired knowledge from every court I have attended. By dedicating my legal career 100 percent to criminal law, my experiences have instilled me with confidence that I can fairly address each citizen’s case in Roswell Municipal Court with integrity and reasonableness.

What goals do you wish to accomplish if elected?

I want to ensure that the court runs efficiently and effectively. Many citizens of Georgia are forced to sit in a courtroom all day waiting for their case to be heard. I will take steps to ensure that every case is handled in a timely, but personal, manner. I also want to ensure that the programs and sentences handed down from the court are fair, but also effective, help prevent repeat offenses and keep our community safe. Finally, I want every person who leaves the courtroom to feel that I, and the court staff, respect both their time and concerns. I pledge to the citizens of Roswell that I will be fair to every person who enters the courtroom, but will hold accountable those whose guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Name: Brian A. Hansford

City of residence: Roswell

Occupation: Attorney

Family: I am married to Lauren Hansford, my wife of 14 years, and we have four children, John, William, Henry and Thomas.

Public email address: bahansford@gmail.com

Why do you want to run?

Since 2007, I have enjoyed serving my community as a judge in Roswell, Milton and Alpharetta. I consider my service on the bench as the means by which I pay my civic rent and certainly feel a strong desire to continue to do so in Roswell, given that it is my hometown. Most of all, I want to ensure that the Roswell Municipal Court continues to serve the people of our community with fairness, equality and efficiency.

What makes you the best candidate?

I am the only candidate in this race who has judicial experience, the last seven months of which have been heavily focused on presiding in the Roswell Municipal Court after the retirement of the previous chief judge. It is that experience which I believe gives me a unique perspective into how best to balance protecting our community with the need to provide a court that is fair to all who come before it.

What goals do you wish to accomplish if elected?

Request that the mayor and council rescind the current judicial salary, which is over $95,000, and reduce the judge’s compensation to a level that is commensurate with the workload of the court – which is currently only in session two days of each week.

Expand the list of traffic offenses that are eligible to be resolved without a person having to come to court, thereby reducing the time our citizens, law enforcement officers and court staff spend sitting in court.

I have already implemented first appearance hearings on weekends, which keeps law enforcement from having to release potentially dangerous criminals back into the community because they haven’t been seen by a judge within the time required by law, keeps police officers on the streets by minimizing the need for them to transport defendants to Fulton County to see a judge and gives incarcerated defendants quicker access to the court system in order to understand their rights.

I have reduced waste of taxpayer money by streamlining court calendars and combining court calendars, thus reducing the number of overall court sessions.

I will utilize the recently expanded Roswell criminal ordinances, which are intended to be positive for law enforcement and defendants alike by allowing for local justice tailored to the needs of our community.

Name: Leslie M. Donaho

City of residence: Roswell

Occupation: Assistant Solicitor General, Cherokee County.

Family: Husband, Nathan Donaho, two sons, Aaron and Hayden, and daughter Delilah

Website: www.ElectLeslieDonaho.com

Public email address: Leslie@ElectLeslieDonaho.com

Why do you want to run?

I am running for Roswell Municipal Court judge because Roswell deserves a fair, experienced and unbiased judge.

What makes you the best candidate?

As a prosecutor of almost eight years, I am the only candidate with extensive experience serving the needs of the community, including victims of crimes. While criminal defense attorneys have an important role in our legal system, their function is to represent an individual not to ensure the safety of the public. In addition, I have worked solely on DUI and other misdemeanor crimes, traffic offenses and ordinance violations for my entire legal career. These are exactly the types of cases handled in the municipal court.

What goals do you wish to accomplish if elected?

My reputation as a prosecutor is “tough but fair.” As Roswell’s judge, I will continue to seek justice for the community with those same goals in mind. Fairness includes alternate sentencing options for young people, first time offenders and for those whom “standard sentencing” would be unduly harsh, but graduated sentences for repeat offenders and egregious offenses. In the past several years, I have been before too many judges who have ignored the law or acted unethically. If you choose me to be your judge, I will bring fairness and experience to the bench, while maintaining the safety of our streets and neighborhoods. I will continue my track record as a proven honest and dedicated public servant as Roswell’s Municipal Court judge.

RN 03-13-14