Ryan S. Hope was appointed as the Athens-Clarke County Municipal Court Judge and Administrative Hearing Officer by the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission at a Special Called Session on Tuesday, January 17. He begins his position in the Municipal Court on Monday, February 6.
"Ryan has extensive knowledge of our judicial system, as well as the necessary experience in managing a budget and staff," said Mayor Nancy Denson. "I expect him to be an exceptional Municipal Court Judge and effectively oversee the operations of the Municipal Court."
Since 2007, Hope has served as the Chief Assistant Solicitor of Athens-Clarke County. Prior to his work in the Solicitor's Office, Hope worked as an Assistant Public Defender for the University of Georgia Legal Aid Clinic and the Western Circuit Public Defender’s Office from 2001 to 2007.
Hope has served as a team member for the Athens-Clarke County DUI/Drug Court, the Athens-Clarke County Treatment and Accountability Court, and the Western Circuit Veteran's Court. He has also assisted in training new Athens-Clarke County police officers in the investigation of domestic violence crimes.
Hope previously served as a member of the Region 2 Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases Regional Planning Board and has served as a volunteer judge in the regional round of the Georgia high school mock trial competition since 2007.
After growing up in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, Hope moved to Athens to attend the University of Georgia in 1993 and has been an Athens resident since that time. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Political Science and from the University of Georgia School of Law. He and his wife Caron have a daughter, Emmy, and a son, Slater.
Under the Unified Government's charter, the Mayor recommends a candidate for Municipal Court Judge who can be approved or rejected by the Commission. Judge Hope was approved unanimously by the nine Commissioners in attendance for an initial term through June 30, 2019. Hope replaces interim Municipal Court Judges Jo Carol Nesset-Sale and Matthew Campbell Jordan, who have served since the resignation of former Municipal Judge Leslie Spornberger Jones effective November 30, 2016 to pursue other opportunities.
"It's a very humbling experience to be given this opportunity out of such a strong field of candidates," said Hope. "I know Municipal Court Judges going back to Judge Steve Jones in the 1990s and I have a lot to live up to. I will do my best to make Athens-Clarke County proud of the Municipal Court and the job I plan to do as judge."
The Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County is the busiest court in Athens-Clarke County. Each year, the court handles approximately 35,000 cases. The court has jurisdiction over Athens-Clarke County ordinance violations; state misdemeanor traffic violations, including DUI; and state misdemeanor crimes of theft by shoplifting, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, and underage possession of alcohol. The court also handles domestic partnership filings and performs weddings.
The Municipal Court Judge also typically is appointed as the Administrative Hearing Officer. This position hears all issues under the ordinances of Athens-Clarke County that would determine the granting, denial, probating, suspending or revoking of any license or permit granted under Athens-Clarke County ordinances or any claim by any citizen aggrieved by an administrative decision made by any Athens-Clarke County department authorized to make such decisions.
Judge Hope's swearing-in ceremony will be held on Tuesday, January 31 at 2:30 p.m. in the Municipal Court in the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse at 325 East Washington Street.