Forsyth County Chief Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Bagley often speaks to the community about his job, the county’s court system and his unique drug court program.
So when invited Thursday to address the Sawnee-Cumming Optimist Club, the judge had little reason to suspect something was amiss until approached by Randy O’Dell, the club’s assistant president.
“We got you here in a little bit of a rouse,” O’Dell told Bagley after his presentation. “Every year, every club has a notation for the Respect for Law and we honor somebody in that position. And this year, sir, we are honoring you.”
The Respect for Law honor is given to a firefighter, law enforcement officer, legal professional or other individual who works to uphold the law.
A sheriff’s deputy received it in 2012, but O’Dell said Bagley was the “obvious choice” this year.
Lisa Nash, who served on the committee to choose the nominee, said Bagley was picked because “his drug court and his contribution to that since 2004 and also with the county growing, what he’s put in place is going to carry them into the next phase of [growth].”
“He’s a person that thinks ahead and as we grow, there’s already something put in place,” Nash said.
Bagley was accompanied by his wife, Anita, who was in on the surprise. Because she’s often by his side, Bagley said his wife’s presence didn’t make him suspicious.
“This was a total surprise. I was just speaking about what I normally do, so yes, this was a total surprise and I’m just so humbled and honored by this recognition,” Bagley said. “I am just shocked and just so honored and humbled.”
Bagley, a Forsyth County native, has served as a superior court judge since 2000. During his tenure, he has been honored by various bar associations and professional organizations, but receiving an honor from the community was personal.
“This means a lot,” he said. “Because sometimes we do get recognitions ... you kind of expect that from time to time. But to get recognized by members of the community that are really not involved in the court system is really special. And it’s such an honor for them to think of me in that regard.”