Probate candidates plug experience

Tue, 07/01/2008 - 4:25pm
By: John Munford

Winner will replace retiring long-time judge Martha Stephenson

The three candidates vying to become Fayette County’s next Probate Judge touted their experience in their answers to questions posed in writing last week by The Citizen.

According to the candidates’ responses:
• Ann Jackson has worked in the Fulton County Probate Court since 1980 and has served as staff attorney, senior attorney, judicial hearing officer and also as acting chief deputy clerk and probate judge, judging “hundreds” of probate cases.

• Stephen Kiser has served as the “fill-in” probate judge in case current Probate Judge Martha Stephenson had a conflict, was on vacation or for other reasons; He also has served as the county guardian, administrator and conservator, representing people in incompetence hearings along with minors, senior citizens and deceased people who had no will and no one to manage and distribute their estate.

• Jim Whitlock has practiced “in just about all the metro probate courts” as an attorney, handling the probating of wills, guardianships, petitions to appoint administrator, petitions to appoint a different executor and hearings on the involuntary hospitalization of incapacitated adults and temporary custody of incapacitated minors.

All three candidates were complimentary of the way retiring Judge Stephenson runs the office.
Jackson said she could not say what changes will be made if she’s elected, but said she would “evaluate the entire court and see what may be needed.”

Kiser said he sees no need for “immediate changes,” but said the office will have to grow and change to meet the needs of citizens.
Whitlock said that he doesn’t know what changes he might make, but he wants to interview the staff if he’s elected, and he also wants the help of Judge Stephenson to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Whitlock noted that with two senior employees likely retiring at the end of 2009 and the current hiring freeze enacted by the county, it could mean the office will go from four employees to two, with one being full-time and one being part-time.

Each candidate’s full response to the questions is posted online at

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