Lawton E. Stephens, H. Patrick Haggard, Eric W. Norris, and Lisa Lott, Judges of the Western Judicial Circuit, announce that Judge Eric W. Norris has been selected as the next Chief Judge of the Western Circuit effective May 1, 2020. The Western Circuit is comprised of Clarke and Oconee Counties. Judge H. Patrick Haggard will continue as a Superior Court Judge, having stepped down as Chief Judge of the Western Circuit effective April 30, 2020.
In 2016, Judge Norris was appointed to the Superior Court bench and, in 2018, he was subsequently elected to the Superior Court. Judge Norris started his general law practice in 1996 in both civil and criminal cases that gave the foundational building blocks for the types of cases litigated in the Magistrate, Probate, and Superior Courts of the States. Judge Norris has served as Chief Magistrate Judge for Oconee County, a Lieutenant Colonel in the Georgia Army National Guard, and in private law practice. Judge Norris is currently the Presiding Judge over the Western Judicial Circuit’s Treatment and Accountability Court, a mental health court docket for persons who have been charged with a criminal offense that is informed by their mental illness.
Judge Norris serves in numerous legal, civic, and military roles. Judge Norris has served as President of the Western Judicial Bar Association and further served on the 10th Judicial District’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee, the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender Supervisory Committee, and the Judicial Council of Georgia’s Judicial Workload Assessment Committee. Judge Norris has also served as President of the Oconee County Rotary Club and is a graduate of Leadership Oconee, a member of the Oconee State Bank Citizens Advisory Board, a North Oconee High School Mock Trial Coach, and a Judge for the Georgia Mock Trial competitions.
Presently, Judge Norris has served 34 years in the Georgia Army National Guard as a Signal Officer, Field Artillery Officer, and later as an Inspector General. He has held command from Company level to Battalion Command. In addition, Judge Norris has received numerous military awards to include the Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal. Judge Norris plans to retire from the Georgia Army National Guard in June 2020.