Forsyth County’s Chief Superior Court judge thanked those who work in the local court system Monday and said justice should not be deterred because of budget woes.
Jeffrey S. Bagley’s remarks came after he was sworn in to a third term in the local circuit’s top post.
“When you take the oath of office and swear on the holy Bible as I have done, you get that feeling that what we do here every day has such significance,” Bagley said. “We know that, but it’s good to be reminded of that.”
Bagley noted that because of a statewide budget crisis, he and fellow Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson have travelled to other counties to preside over cases.
Although Forsyth County’s caseload qualifies the local circuit for a third Superior Court judge, Bagley said it’s unlikely to happen “anytime soon” because of a lack of state funding.
With a growing backlog, State Court Judges Phillip Smith and Russell McClelland, as well as Chief Magistrate Walker Bramblett and Chief Juvenile Court Judge Russell Jackson, have had to help with Superior Court cases.
“I want to thank all these judges because they have stepped up to the plate when we needed them to and we need them to now,” Bagley said.
The judge then turned to Pete Amos and Todd Levent, who will join the Forsyth County commission next month, and reminded them of the county’s need for a new courthouse.
“We are certainly going to be asking for some consideration in the next round of [the 1-cent sales tax],” Bagley said. “That’s going to be coming up pretty soon and this building has outgrown its usefulness for what we’re doing here.”
Bagley said criminal and civil cases have risen along with the county’s population.
“We are experiencing a tremendous increase in stranger-on-stranger crime,” Bagley said. “All the serious felonies: murders, rapes, aggravated assaults. Those are becoming unfortunately more and more commonplace as we continue to grow.”
Domestic cases, such as those involving divorce and child custody issues, are also on the rise.
Bagley thanked God, his family, staff and everyone who contributes to the local circuit.
“We all are in this together,” he said. “We’ve all got to work together to make sure that justice is done, courts are served, the courts serve the people and to make sure all the work gets done so that justice is not delayed or denied in Forsyth County.”
Bagley was sworn in by Forsyth County Probate Court Judge Lynwood “Woody” Jordan.
Among those attending the ceremony were District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton, Forsyth County Clerk of Courts Greg Allen, Chief Financial Officer David Gruen, Fire Chief Danny Bowman and Pretrial Services Director Robert Tavenier.