A panel of Superior Court judges has chosen retiring Aflac General Counsel Joey Loudermilk as the juvenile court judge who will serve the five outlying counties of the Columbus-based Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.
Loudermilk, 60, will handle cases in the counties of Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Talbot, and Taylor. He replaces retired Judge Wayne Jernigan Sr., who had served since July 2002.
Loudermilk was among 20 applicants for the job, which pays $55,000 a year.
He won’t need the money: His annual financial package in 2012 was worth $4.35 million, according to the company’s proxy statement. He also owns Aflac stock.
Gil McBride, the judicial circuit’s chief superior court judge, said Loudermilk was the choice of a majority of the seven-judge panel.
McBride noted the Georgia General Asssembly last year completely rewrote the state’s juvenile justice code, with the legislation taking effect this past Jan. 1. That meant no applicant for the job had more experience with the new code than any other: It was new to everyone, but it stressed community-based approaches to diverting children from crime, and that was in Loudermilk’s favor, McBride said.
“The emphasis is no longer on retribution, so much as it is a proactive and pre-emptive approach to finding children who are likely to go off-track before they go off track,” McBride said.
That approach includes community-based services for children likely to become delinquent without early intervention. Loudermilk, 60, has worked intensely with the Carpenter’s Way Ranch for Boys and the Arabella Home for Girls, area organizations operating in partnership with the Methodist Home for Children and Youth of the South Georgia Conference.
“I have no doubt that Joey Loudermilk’s experience with the Methodist Home, with Arabella, with Carpenter’s Way, and with any number of organizations that are designed to work with the children who are most likely to wind up in juvenile court, will be tremendously helpful,” McBride said, “because the new code places an emphasis on community involvement, community organizations of this type.”
Loudermilk and his family established the Arabella Home for Girls in Waverly Hall, Ga., McBride said.
When Carpenter’s Way and Arabella suffered during the economic downturn, Loudermilk helped bring them under the umbrella of the Methodist Home for Children and Youth, McBride said.
“For a lot of us, the view is that it’s good to have not only experience, but experience with how the new code approaches children, and in that sense, Joey Loudermilk was not a surprising pick. His own record of professional involvements and community involvements dovetails neatly with the new code’s approach.”
That approach is to intervene before a child winds up in court, the judge said: “That’s why I say the approach is proactive and pre-emptive rather than retribution-based.”
If children in trouble can be diverted to a community-based program, they may never wind up in a youth detention center, McBride said: “Try to get them in there up front, and try to keep them from having worse problems. Look for patterns of behavior, and try to intervene, with the resources of the court working in tandem with the resources of the community.”
Loudermilk practiced law privately before joining Aflac in 1983 as the head of its newly formed legal department. He earned his bachelor’s degree with honors from Georgia State University in 1975, and gained his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1978.
Among the other applicants interviewed for the juvenile court position were Thomas Tebeau, Edward Berry, Jennifer Dunlap, Richard Mobley, Joan Redmond, Michael Reynolds, Gary Byrd, Alfonza Whitaker, Peter Hoffman, Donna Hix, Robert “Brad” Bickerstaff, Amy Walters, Lois Wilson Boyd, R. Sean McPhail, Eddie Davis, Dorothy Williams, Danielle Forte, Richard Bunn and Larry Taylor.