ALBANY, Ga. -- Among the candidates for State Court judge in Dougherty County is someone who has already spent three years on the bench.
When voters go to the polls, Victoria Darrisaw says she hopes the public will take that fact into consideration.
Darrisaw, currently a Magistrate for Dougherty County, is campaigning against Albany attorney Christopher Warren to step into the position being vacated by outgoing State Court Judge John Salter.
To read about Victoria Darrisaw's opponent, Christopher Warren, click here.
Originally from South Carolina, Darrisaw was born to two parents in the U.S. Marine Corps. A graduate of Spelman College and of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, she was appointed as the Magistrate judge in 2009 by Salter.
Before that appointment, she worked as an assistant district attorney in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit as well as the South Georgia Judicial Circuit. Early in her career, she served as a law clerk for Judge W. Louis Sands and Judge Tommy Day Wilcox.
Occupation: Magistrate Court Judge, Dougherty County
Post Sought: State Court Judge, Dougherty County
Family: Husband George; Children George III, 11,
Key Issues: Resolving cases efficiently and compassionately; Keeping repeat offenders out of court; Promotion of literacy
She had actually gotten a chance to get to know Sands before working for him.
"I had the opportunity to meet Judge Sands when he spoke at my law school," Darrisaw recalled. "By the time I graduated, he had run for and won (a seat in) Superior Court.
"I worked as a law clerk for (Sands and Wilcox) for a year. Sands was appointed as a federal judge, and he selected me as a federal law clerk."
Darrisaw met her husband, George, through Sands' wife, Karla Heath Sands. Victoria and George Darrisaw were married in 1995 and now have two children: George III and Helen.
The elder George Darrisaw, a native of Athens, is now a music specialist at Lamar Reese Elementary School. The family attends Friendship Baptist Church, where the state court hopeful serves as deaconess, church clerk, a Sunday School and Bible teacher, choir member and young adult ministry advisor.
She also serves as a literary education volunteer, Leadership Albany board member, a member of the Dougherty County Kiwanis Club and is an adjunct instructor at Albany Technical College in criminal procedure and constitutional law.
Most of the cases she worked on as a law clerk involved complex civil litigation, Darrisaw's biography states.
She said her career path was decided as a child, when she was watching "Perry Mason."
"That's when I knew I wanted to be a lawyer," Darrisaw said. "I liked what the judge was doing, and I knew I needed to be a lawyer first. I knew that's where I wanted to be, as a judge."
She was about three months pregnant when she took the position at the Dougherty District Attorney's Office, which at the time was under Ken Hodges' leadership. She started here career by presenting misdemeanor cases before Salter, and eventually got to present felony cases as well as mental health cases before Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss, she said.
In that time, she was able to gain an understanding of why there are repeat offenders.
In her time inside the walls of the Dougherty County Courthouse, she said she has had the opportunity to work with other judges as well as representatives from area law enforcement agencies.
"We are fortunate in the State and Magistrate courts to have people with good judgment," Darrisaw said. "I want to continue with that tradition."
Aside from her experience, she said she believes her ability to walk into a case with a clear mind makes her a good choice for state judge.
"I don't have an ax to grind, so I'm impartial -- and I'm patient," she said. "I think those characteristics make me a good Magistrate and will make me a better state judge."
She said she also wants to work to make sure cases are resolved fairly, quickly and efficiently, as well as maintain mutual respect, civility and compassion in the courtroom.
"I want to serve and make sure people know the court system is for them," Darrisaw said. "If they are coming to court, it is because of a problem.
"I want to make sure people know the court is for the county. I can't promise I will make everyone happy, but I can guarantee a level playing field."
From her time as a judge as well as an assistant district attorney, pre-trial diversion is something else Darrisaw says she has actively been involved in.
"It (the pre-trial diversion program) allows you to pay your debt to society, but it keeps your record clean," she said.
Rather than working to sell people, she said her record is what matters in the long run.
"All I can say is, if you come in, I will treat you fairly," Darrisaw said. "I have a track record for doing what is right. Judge Salter has done a good job, and that makes it easier. I respect John Salter, but I can't be John Salter. I can only be Victoria Darrisaw.
"I have done it (the job of a judge), and the record shows that I'm good at it. He (Salter) has prepared me by selecting me (as Magistrate). That experience has prepared me to step into this role with no learning curve."