VALDOSTA, Ga. — Greg Voyles was trying to wind up 22 years as a practicing attorney last week.
“I’m trying to wrap up cases or transfer them to other lawyers,” he said.
The reason: Voyles is about to become a judge.
On Sept. 1, Gov. Brian Kemp named Voyles the new superior court judge for the Southern Judicial Circuit — Lowndes, Brooks, Colquitt, Echols and Thomas counties.
He replaces Judge James Tunison, who is returning to private practice.
Voyles, a native of Colquitt County — “I’m a Packer” — received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Valdosta State University — “Back when it was Valdosta State College” — and his law degree from Florida State University.
He started working alongside Valdosta attorney William E. Moore Jr., and eventually they created the partnership of Moore & Voyles, P.C.
In recent years, as Moore began to scale back his workload, the two men formed independent practices, though they both remained in the same building on North Patterson Street, Voyles said.
As a small-town attorney, Voyles has handled a wide range of civil and criminal affairs. He said domestic cases, such as divorces, take up about half of his caseload.
As a superior court judge, he will have authority to hear just about any kind of civil or criminal case except for contesting of wills and probate cases, he said.
With court calendars trashed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Voyles said he expects a “backlog” when grand juries can meet again and jury trials can resume.
Current judges have been doing well in getting as many civil and non-jury situations handled by internet as they can, he said.
Thursday, the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court signed an order allowing local superior courts to resume grand jury hearings if they can be held safely.
Voyles’ wife, Shannon, is a teacher at Hahira Elementary School. They have two daughters: Madison, a first-year law student at Mercer University, and Lauren, a sophomore psychology major at Georgia Southern University.
Terry Richards is senior reporter at The Valdosta Daily Times.