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Talking shop with Carroll County’s new judge

The runoff for Carroll County State Court Judge this year involved intensity with two of the most qualified and hardworking candidates I have ever seen. Erica Tisinger and Met Lane battled until the very end. They, and their supporters, should be honored for their sacrifices.

This morning, I met with Erica Tisinger; the winner of the runoff. We sat down at Gallery Row to discuss her historic win and her future as the next State Court Judge.

But, she is not the first in her family to serve the community and the state court. Her husband’s grandfather, Robert David “Bob” Tisinger served as the Solicitor General (prosecutor) in Carroll State Court for years.

Tisinger was the pillar of the legal community and a significant leader in the west Georgia community as a whole.

I have known Erica’s husband, Joel, since we were boys. I have known Erica since she moved to Carrollton many years ago.   

Interestingly, they live in the house that my grandparents built in 1986 and I lived in during summers in law school.

As we avoided the early morning rain, I wanted to find out what type of judge we could expect to see in State Court.

Erica was born in North Carolina near the Outer Banks. She has had quite the life experience. As a child, she and her family suffered through periods of severe poverty. When discussing this time period, she began to speak in a more serious manner. She gave me many examples of what true poverty is like.

These early challenges gave her strength. They also led her to law school at Mercer University.

After law school, she was hired by Hall County to serve as their State Court Legal Clerk; a fast moving job with many moving parts. This experience gave her the background to tackle the challenge of becoming our next judge.

My favorite question is always “Which judge do you admire the most?” She did not hesitate when she said that she liked all of our judges; but Jack Kirby was the favorite.

She admires his expectations for lawyers to be fully prepared, follows the plain language of the law, and perhaps most of all, his ability to be fair to both sides. She does not believe in judicial activism.

Next, I wanted to know her thoughts on judicial temperament (behavior of a judge in court). While she will run a tight ship, she will not be the type of judge who yells from the bench or embarrasses people. I am certain of this.

When I asked her about what she considered important regarding individual cases, she said,” Oftentimes, people just want to be heard. As long as our people entrust me to serve, they will have that opportunity to be heard in court.”

I also brought up the idea of instituting a DUI Court in Carroll Co. I was pleased to learn that she was involved when the first DUI courts in Georgia began and supports creating one in Carroll Co. This is critical. DUI courts save lives on the highway and help people get sober. Additionally, these courts lower the cost to county taxpayers because habitual DUI offenders are working instead of being paid for by our taxes.

We could not avoid the subject of COVID-19 and how cases are backing up every day in courts across the land. I expected a long and difficult answer. But, she simply said, “I have the work ethic and dedication to ensuring that the state court will run as efficiently as possible. At the same time, I will ensure that peoples’ rights are protected.”

Judge Erica Tisinger also has something that inspires many; character. She is unafraid to make unpopular legal decisions if she believes the decision is the right thing to do, has proven that she will enter the arena and win, and I expect to see her serve our people for many years to come.