GAINESVILLE - Northeastern Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Burton is the choice of the Hall County Superior Court Judges to be the newest Hall County Juvenile Court Judge.
The panel announced its decision Friday in an e-mail statement.
Burton will replace Judge Mary R. Carden, who is retiring after 16 years on the bench. Burton will join Juvenile Court Chief Judge Cliff L. Jolliff in one of two juvenile court judgeships for the circuit that includes Hall and Dawson counties.
District Attorney Lee Darragh said Burton was a good choice, saying, "Lindsay will fill that position with honor and confidence."
"Lindsay's experience in prosecution will bring a fresh perspective to Juvenile Court from both the delinquency side and the civil side of the matters handled there," Darragh said.
Burton is scheduled to begin her four-year term some time in October.
Burton said she started in the circuit's D.A.'s office in 2000, and Darragh was her first trial partner out of law school. She worked in the circuit's Hall County office for a year and a half, before spending four and a half years in the Dawson County office.
She returned to the Hall County office in 2006 and was appointed Chief Assistant D.A. in 2009.
On the juvenile court appointment, Burton said she was not looking to leave the D.A.'s office.
"I enjoy my job. When I applied for this one (juvenile court), I was really in a good position where I wasn't looking to leave, but I was really, really excited at this new challenge for me personally."
Burton said she tried several serious cases last year that involved child victims. She kept up on some of those children after the criminal cases ended and was impressed at what happened in juvenile court.
"(I) was really able to see some of the huge successes that juvenile court has had. It really just inspired me. I wanted to be part of that," Burton said.
One of her cases involved the injury and subsequent death of Kaylee Kipp, the 18-month-old Gainesville girl killed in June 2011. The child's mother Deanna Kipp and the mother's boyfriend Steven West were convicted of murder in 2012.
Burton, along with Hall County Sheriff's Deputy Nicole Bailes, were honored for their roles in bringing justice for Kaylee. The two were recognized in April at the annual observance of National Crime Victims' Rights Week in Gainesville.
"There are some cases that you don't leave at the door when you walk out of the office, and this was one of those cases," Burton said in April.
The retiring Carden leaves a vacancy that Burton said will take a lot to fill.
"She and Judge Jolliff both have excellent reputations, not only within our circuit, but really set the standard for juvenile court throughout the state in my opinion."
Burton is a married mother of two boys, ages six and two and a half. She grew up outside of Philadelphia and did her undergraduate work at Penn State University. She did her law school work at Villanova Law School.
As far as how she'll approach the bench, Burton said it will come from a variety of influences.
"I've had the opportunity to appear before all four superior court judges over my career, and I think I've learned something from each and every one of them. I guess I'll be a hybrid of everyone that I've learned from."
As for Burton's position, Darragh said she'll be missed, but the office will move forward.
"I have an experienced staff which will readily step up. Hall and Dawson counties will continue to see effective prosecution of criminals. We also look forward to a good hire from the hiring process we've just begun," Darragh said.
He's already promoted long time prosecutor Wanda Vance to be the new Chief Assistant D.A. when Burton takes the bench. Vance has worked in the circuit since 2004.
"She has proven ability and will be an asset to me as D.A. and to the people of Hall and Dawson counties," Darragh said.
Burton hopes to know the actual date she'll start as judge some time next week, in order to have a smooth transition for herself and Vance.
"She's an excellent prosecutor, and I know she is going to do a wonderful job," Burton said.
Vance got her B.A. at the University of Georgia. She also did her law school work at UGA, graduating cum laude. She began her career with the late Judge Gault in Forsyth County and worked as an Assistant Solicitor in Gwinnett County from 2002 to 2004, according to Darragh.
Vance is married to Gwinnett County Tax Commissioner Richard Steele. The couple has two children.
Darragh's candidate search will now be for a new Assistant District Attorney to replace Vance.