The Honorable Wade Crumbley leaves a legacy of 40 years of service as he retires from the Henry County justice system on December 31, 2017. His roots go deep in Henry County with his ancestors being among the first European settlers in the area.
Growing up in Kelleytown, Wade enjoyed playing in the fields and woods, as well as swimming in nearby streams and rivers, nurturing within him a great love of nature. While at UGA he could be found hiking the area that is now the State Botanical Garden. He is still a member of the National Audubon Society.
Wade was an honors student who completed Henry County High School by the eleventh grade. He then graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia with a degree in History in 1975. He then obtained his Juris Doctor degree from UGA’s School of Law in 1978.
Despite his love of the outdoors, he came to realize that law could afford him a career, and, once he overcame his anxiety of “performing” as an attorney, he came to enjoy his time in the courtroom. Practicing law also fulfilled his interest in social causes and politics. In addition, the field of law was not new to the Crumbleys. Wade’s older brother, Alex, was an established attorney in Henry County who was appointed Judge of Superior Court in 1978 at the young age of 36. His uncle, Ernest M. Smith, along with A.J. “Buddy” Welch, was a founding member of a prominent Henry County law firm.
Those relationships, however, created challenges for the young attorney. Wade could not try cases in Alex’s court and this made it challenging to find a law partner in McDonough who would welcome him. So in 1978 he hung a shingle out at the site of his grandparents’ former McDonough home at 80 Macon Street, a place where he both lived and practiced law. He and Alex would later practice together at that location for 23 years.
He tried his first case when he was 24 and argued his first appeal, a death penalty case, in the Supreme Court of Georgia when he was only 25. During his career, he argued well over 50 appeals in state and federal courts, 44 of which were reported and several of which are cited as precedent in legal publications.
According to Judge Crumbley, “my most memorable case continues to be the Banks vs State case that resulted in the release of Jerry Banks for the 1974 murders of Marvin King and Melanie Hartsfield. It was a case that brought me squarely into the spotlight. It was a life-altering case for me.”
From the Atlanta Constitution April 11, 1980 just before arguing Banks v. State in the Supreme Court of Georgia
Following 28 years of practicing law, he was appointed to the bench by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2006. Upon his retirement as Judge of Henry County Superior Court, Judge Crumbley plans to enjoy more time with his wife, April, and their children Joseph, Phillip, Jeb and Ben. While he hopes to spend more time in nature once again, he doesn’t intend to leave the bench behind completely. Following his retirement he will assume the role of Senior Judge and will continue to mete out justice whenever called upon.
The Honorable Robert Godwin will retire as Magistrate Court Judge effective December 31, 2017 after serving in the legal arena for more than 37 years.
A native of Clayton County, Robert graduated from Jonesboro High School in 1966. Before joining the Air Force in 1968, he attended the University of Georgia for two years. He received a bachelor’s degree from Georgia State in 1975, followed by his Juris Doctor degree from Woodrow Wilson School of Law in 1980. He initially practiced law near the airport before moving to a practice in Jonesboro.
In the Fall of 1985 Robert made the move to Henry County by joining a practice with C.L. “Skip” Cash in Stockbridge. In 1996 he was appointed as a full-time Magistrate Judge in Henry County. He was elected Chief Magistrate Judge in 2006, an office he has held since.
“I always had an interest in law, having registered as a pre-law major at UGA,” he says. He also enjoys Magistrate Court, a court of limited jurisdiction that often serves as a launchpad for those touched by the judicial system in matters of misdemeanors, felonies, civil claims up to $15,000 in value, dispossessory warrants, ordinance violations, etc. “Magistrate Court determines probable cause to assess whether a crime occurred and/or whether an accused person can be reasonably considered to have committed a crime” he explains.
Judge Godwin spends the majority of his time at the Henry County jail where Magistrate Court is held Monday-Friday morning and again on Saturday morning in an effort to meet the requirement to expedite hearings for the recently incarcerated. His typical week includes holding first appearance/temporary hearings for roughly 50+ cases per week. As of the end of October the Magistrate Court has issued approximately 1,300 misdemeanor and 1,600 felony warrants in 2017.
Following his retirement, Robert and his wife, Nancy, hope to spend more time with their two children and two grandchildren enjoying their mountain home near Ellijay.
“Reflecting upon my career, I am so fond of the wonderful people, both in public and private practice, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of interacting,” Judge Godwin states. “I can only hope that every once in awhile I helped someone to do better.”