The Padgett household needs to make room in the closet for another judge's robe.
Alice W. Padgett was sworn in Thursday as Columbia County's first associate Probate Court judge.
"I know she'll be an asset to the county as she will be to this court," Probate Judge Pat Hardaway said.
She joins her husband, J. Wade Padgett, as an area judge. He is the former Columbia County chief magistrate who was appointed as a Superior Court judge last year.
But Padgett's position also is a county milestone.
"This is a first," said Hardaway, who performed the swearing-in at the Columbia County courthouse in Evans. "We've never had an associate probate judge before."
Hardaway said that during her 29-year career she's sworn in the county's first female commissioner, clerk and board of education members, in addition to the board's first chairwoman.
"And now the first associate probate judge, who is also female," Hardaway said.
Hardaway asked commissioners to approve the new position last month to help with the court's ever-increasing case-load. She said Padgett primarily will handle adult guardianship cases, in which someone is requesting to become the legal guardian of an adult. The cases are complex, often involving two attorneys and multiple hearings.
"With the population aging and places like Brandon Wilde and Washington Commons and those kinds of places in the county, it is just going to keep increasing the numbers of those we have," Padgett said.
Padgett has been an attorney in private practice with her husband for 19 years. She has focused mainly on family law, especially adoptions.
She's served as the Probate Court public defender for several years. She's filled in for Hardaway occasionally in Traffic Court and once at a probate hearing.
"I'm very excited," Padgett said of her new position. "I look forward to serving."
But the addition of a second judge's robe into the Padgett home doesn't alter anything outside the courtroom.
"This changes nothing," Padgett's husband joked. "She still rules, robe or not."
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