Hamby, 51, will join three other judges — Juanita Stedman, James Whitfield and Joanne Elsey — on Cobb’s Juvenile Court bench on Jan. 1, earning a salary of $146,000 for the full-time position.
“I’m extremely honored by the appointment,” Hamby said Tuesday afternoon. “I appreciate the confidence shown to me by the Superior Court judges. We have a great bench and a great bar here in Cobb County, and I look forward to the opportunity.”
Hamby is a senior attorney at Marietta law firm Huff, Woods & Hamby, where he has concentrated in family law. He estimated he has a couple dozen open cases that he will wrap up by Dec. 31.
“I want to help kids and I want to help families and I think I have the skill set to do that,” Hamby said. “I’ve seen a whole lot of family problems.”
He has “mediated or arbitrated approximately 2,000” domestic and civil cases, according to his biography on the firm’s website. In addition, Hamby served as a guardian ad litem — advocating for a minor — in numerous child-custody and visitation legal actions.
Superior Court Administrator Tom Charron said Hamby’s experience fit the qualifications for which the Superior Court judges were looking.
“One (qualification) was attorneys with experience in juvenile court or guardians ad litem,” he said. “Certainly, Mr. Hamby has that experience.”
Other requirements include being 30 or older, being a Georgia citizen for three years or more, and having practiced law for at least five years.
The judges took two votes to narrow the field of 23 candidates, Charron said.
“Most (candidates) were known by most, if not all, of the judges,” he said. “There were a number of candidates who didn’t get considered beyond the first ballot.”
One well-known candidate, prominent criminal-defense lawyer Jimmy Berry, had put his hat into the ring but withdrew his name last week.
“I have 179 cases. I have three death-penalty cases,” Berry said. “It’s very difficult to turn those kinds of cases over to somebody else by Jan. 1. My clients don’t want me to leave their cases. I’ve been doing this 42 years. It’s hard to give it up.”
But Berry said the judges got it right in their selection.
“Jeff Hamby is a very good pick,” he said.
Cobb has 10 Superior Court judges, but one seat is vacant since Judge George Kreeger retired Sept. 30.
Juvenile Court judges serve four-year terms and serve by appointment of the Superior Court judges.
Hamby earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State University in 1982 and entered its law school that year in its founding class. He earned his law degree in 1985 and was admitted to the Georgia bar that same year.
Hamby and his wife of 24 years, Tracey, live in Acworth. They have two daughters, Sarah, 21, and Krista, 19, both students at Kennesaw State University.
The opening on the juvenile court bench occurred when Judge Gregory Poole was elected July 31 to replace retiring Superior Court Judge Dorothy Robinson.