Longtime judge incumbent faces longtime prosecutor for second time in Nov. 2 race
by Marcus E. Howard
October 25, 2010 12:00 AM | 5367 views | 13 13 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Judge Jim Bodiford a Superior Court judge, is running for re-election against Normarene Merritt in the Nov. 2 election. In 2006, Bodiford won re-election against Merritt with more than 80 percent of the vote.<br>Photo by Anthony Stalcup
MARIETTA - Cobb Superior Court Judge James Bodiford is hoping his long judicial record will earn him another term in the Nov. 2 general election against Normarene Merritt, a longtime prosecutor.

The contest is a match between two veteran lawyers, who also faced each other back in 2006. Both candidates have emphasized their experience as their strong points, with Bodiford having decades of experience presiding over cases and as a former prosecutor while Merritt also brings a good deal of courthouse experience to the race.

There are 10 superior court judges in Cobb, each serving four-year terms.

Bodiford, 61, of Marietta, said county residents should return him to the bench because he has proven to be a good judge.

"I believe that I'm making a difference," he said. "I believe experience counts and I have it. I believe that certainly the public so far has found that I've done a good job and I'm still enjoying it. I want to continue to serve."

In 2006, Bodiford won re-election against Merritt with more 80 percent of the vote.

In 2008, Merritt ran for chief Cobb Magistrate Court judge against incumbent Frank Cox. Cox won 99,055 votes, or 65 percent, to win a third term. Merritt received 52,505 votes, or 35 percent.

This year, Merritt hopes voters will take a closer look at her resume and decide to elect a fresh face to the court.

"I have prosecuted for 26 years, and therefore consistently interacted with judges," said Merritt, 63, of Kennesaw. "From that experience I've found that good judges can have a really great impact on the community."

Merritt, a widow, graduated from George State University in 1970. In 1975, she earned a law degree from Emory University School of Law, after giving birth and raising her children as a student. She worked as staff counsel to MARTA before becoming a deputy solicitor and then assistance solicitor of the Atlanta Municipal Court from 1981 to 2007.

Currently, Merritt serves as city solicitor of Hogansville in west Georgia and has a private practice in Cobb.

The job of a judge, said Merritt, is to be a referee between the prosecution and defense. She said she would apply the law equally to both sides.

"A good referee, in my opinion, calls a ball, a ball and a strike, a strike," she said. "I am a firm believer that you can be firm, demand respect and yet not be unpleasant."

Bodiford grew up on Main Street in Powder Springs. He graduated from Mercer University in 1974 and John Marshall Law School in 1979. Bodiford was in private practice and served as an assistant district attorney in Cobb, before his appointment as Cobb's chief magistrate judge at age 35. He served in that position from 1985 until 1994. He has served as a superior court judge since his July 1994 election.

Bodiford conducted Georgia's first drug court in the early 1990s. As a superior court judge, he has overseen such high-profile cases as the two month death penalty trial of ex-lawyer Fred Tokars and the month long murder trial of Lynn Turner. More recently, he presided over the infamous Brian Nichols trial in Fulton County.

"I believe I have been a no-nonsense type of jurist," Bodiford said. "One that runs an efficient courtroom, yet has compassion when needed."

According to his Sept. 30 campaign contribution disclosure report, Bodiford had received a total of $75,321 in contributions for the election. After $13,107 in expenditures, he ended with $61,214 on hand. Merritt's Sept. 30 disclosure report listed a total of $4,808 in contributions and $4,442 in expenditures, leaving $365 on hand, according to the Georgia Ethics Commission.
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Jim Woods
February 21, 2013
Bodyfart is a scumbag. Check the financial disclosure and you will discover that 95% of the campaign contributions he receives comes from lawyers. Oddly enough, his contributors usually win their cases in his court.
October 29, 2010
I believe Judge Bodiford has the experience and the background for the type of court that Cobb County people face and deserve. I vote BODIFORD !
Just Wait
October 26, 2010
Any judge that is "disrespectful" to lawyers by not giving them any special privileges has my vote.
Amazing Grace
October 25, 2010
It is amazing how people won't believe information if it is right in front of their faces. Saying you are not bias only means you are bias. I can admit I am bias against Bodiford and will not vote for him. One of us will cancel the other's vote, but we won't know that until Nov 3!!! My vote is for Merritt!!!
John Cantrell
October 25, 2010
If Bodiford wants a lifetime appointment, why doesn't he try and get a federal appointment. We need fresh faces and fresh ideas on the Cobb bench.
JR Johnson
October 25, 2010
This was a great article. But at the end of the day, Merritt will be a better judge for Cobb County. I saw other comments that really reflect the the truth about Merritt and not the other candidate. Based on the facts, Merritt is a role model, honest and will do more than just spell fair.

Merritt is the change needed in this position.
Former Cobb lawyer
October 25, 2010
I don't even live in Cobb anymore and I am completely impartial, I was in front of Judge Bodiford for years and he is the fairest judge I've been in front of.

Wendy Titelman and that crew are unstable and have an agenda.
December 06, 2011
Agree 10000000%
October 25, 2010
Judge Bodiford is an excellent Judge. Cobb COunty is lucky to have him.
Connie Mack Jr
October 25, 2010
Judge Bodiford is the perfect role model for all Judical Candiates and should be kept....Cobb County is lucky to have such honest and fair individual will real justice for all....
Time for a change
October 25, 2010
It's time that the citizens of Cobb demand fair and impartial judges. We have way too many judges that are arrogant and disrespectul to the people and attornies that appear before them.Or they show favoritism in their rulings to those that contributed money to their campaigns.

Merritt sounds like a welcome change.
October 25, 2010
I saw a website that says different about Bodiford being compassionate. I went to the site after seeing a sign that said, "Boot Bodiford."

On the site it showed his lack of compassion, especially the Lisa Woods and Wendy Titelman cases.
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