He may wear the black robe of a judge, but Juvenile Court Judge Douglas Flanagan also has a wardrobe of Micky Mouse ties.
"Anything you can do to put these children at ease," he said.
Though Columbia County's new juvenile court judge has to deal with such juvenile crimes as burglary, drug offenses, shoplifting and even traffic violations, and he also has the difficult job of handling child molestation, abuse cases and those where the Department of Family and Children Services are petition to place children in foster care. He is responsible for the welfare of the county's 34 foster children.
Judge Douglas Flanagan has been named as a Juvenile Court Judge for the circuit with primary respoinsibilities in Columbia County.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Flanagan was appointed to the part-time position as one of the Augusta Judicial Circuit's four Juvenile Court Judges in October 2000. He moved his offices to Columbia County's Judicial Center when it opened in July, and will have the primary responsibility of handling cases in Columbia County, an average of 780 a year, and another 250 cases brought in by DFACS.
He assumed the position left vacant when Juvenile County Judge James G. "Jim" Blanchard Jr. was appointed to the Superior Court bench in January. Blanchard served as the juvenile court judge in Columbia County for 21 years.
"I am not Jim Blanchard's replacement," he recently told Columbia County Board of Education trustees. "Nobody can replace him. I just took the position he had when he was promoted."
The juvenile offices in Columbia County offer a myriad of services and programs, including family counseling and mediation services.
"We don't just get them when we make a criminal case and punish them. We have other services besides that," he said. "We try to offer them counseling."
When juveniles appear in his courtroom, Flanagan said it's like an oil light coming on in a car. It's a sign of trouble that has been brewing for awhile - something that needs immediate attention.
"It's easy to punish," he said. "But most children need more than that. Most of the serious offenses we see, there are some major problems at home. Some of them have to be punished, but we are concerned with their rehabilitation, their future."
Name: Douglas Flanagan
Position: Juvenile Court Judge, Augusta Judicial Circuit, with the primary responsibility of Columbia County.
Family: wife, Helen, a daughter Alison, who is also an attorney, and twin three-year-olds, William and Isabel.
Experience: Private practice as an attorney for more than 25 years in Augusta with Douglas J. Flannagan & Associates. A retired Army Major and Vietnam veteran, Flanagan was awarded the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge. Before becoming a judge, he served as a part-time public defender in juvenile court for 20 years.
Education: Received law degree from Augusta Law School.
Quote: "I think it's important in life try to make a change with what you do. I don't think you should practice law just to make money. And where best to start than with children. Have you ever seen an 11- or 12-year-old who's a criminal? Most of the problems are at home."
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