Macon’s new municipal judge to focus on blight, environmental issues

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Macon’s new municipal judge to focus on blight, environmental issues

Macon-Bibb County Municipal Judge Crystal Jones signs her first warrant after her swearing-in ceremony Thursday at Government Center.

Macon-Bibb County Municipal Judge Crystal Jones signs her first warrant after her swearing-in ceremony Thursday at Government Center.

Liz Fabian

Macon-Bibb County Municipal Judge Crystal Jones signs her first warrant after her swearing-in ceremony Thursday at Government Center.

Liz Fabian

Liz Fabian

Macon-Bibb County Municipal Judge Crystal Jones signs her first warrant after her swearing-in ceremony Thursday at Government Center.

Absentee landlords and delinquent property owners have a new nemesis in Macon-Bibb County Municipal Court.

Crystal Jones was sworn in Thursday as the county’s new municipal judge, taking over for Judge Bobby Faulkner who recently retired.

Jones, 45, most recently served as assistant Macon-Bibb County attorney.

“This is somewhat of a bittersweet day for those in the county attorney’s office as we’re losing an assistant attorney but it’s a sweet day for Municipal Court,” Mayor Robert Reichert said during the ceremony at Government Center. “She will be sorely missed upstairs.”

Liz Fabian
Macon-Bibb County Municipal Judge Crystal Jones hugs Fire Chief Marvin Riggings Thursday after her swearing-in ceremony at Government Center.

When Reichert nominated Jones last month, he told commissioners he anticipated Jones would be a great asset in the county’s quest to eradicate blight. He echoed that sentiment Thursday.

“I think she’ll do an excellent job and pay particular attention to environmental issues, blight,” he said.

Jones, who grew up in Macon and graduated from Southeast High School, Middle Georgia State University and Mercer University Law School, has earned valuable experience working with other judges and municipalities in dealing with blight.

“If we can address blight, it will spill over and address other issues in our community,” Jones said after the ceremony.

Juggling the load with all the other cases in the court can be challenging, but she is considering reaching out to her alma mater to encourage third-year law students to get credit by helping prosecute blight and environmental neglect cases. Researching property ownership and getting responsible parties to court can be time-consuming, she said.

“If I can make a dent on the court side, it will help with the limited resources in the county and also help citizens with their property values,” Jones said.

Environmental Court, which handles blight cases, currently convenes about twice a month. Once Municipal Court moves to the first floor of the Bibb County Courthouse in mid-November Jones anticipates hearing those type of cases weekly in the smaller new courtroom.

Although Monday will mark Jones’ first official day on the bench, she was already signing her first warrants within minutes of being sworn in.

“That’s my girl,” Pamela Rouse proudly stated as attendees stepped forward to congratulate Jones. “She’s worked so hard.”

During the ceremony Rouse was thinking of her own late father, Walter Sutton, who spent a lot of time in the old Macon City Hall serving as a bail bondsman.

“I know my dad is so grinning.”

Liz Fabian
Municipal Court Judge Crystal Jones was sworn in Thursday at the Macon-Bibb County Government Center.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at [email protected] or phone 478-301-2976.