Breaking Down the Law

Superior Court Judge Ron Ginsberg. – photo: tim johnson

 

Breaking Down the Law

The legal profession has always been a hot topic in Savannah – in 2010 our special look at law and order in Savannah started with Superior Court Judge Ron Ginsberg.​ Featured in Faces of the South: The Trilogy Edition now on newsstands. Click here to order your copy of Faces today. 

"For everything there is a season, a season to become a judge and a season to go out. … In May it will be 40 years as a lawyer, 39 being married to the same woman and 16 years as a judge, so this seems to be the right things to do.

I went to elementary school, junior high, high school here and Armstrong, which was downtown at the time. Then I went on to law school at Georgia in Athens. That's a town I never wanted to leave.
 
I've always enjoyed complicated litigation because it's like solving a jigsaw puzzle or a Rubik's Cube.
 
To run for legislature, we passed the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Bill, and I got a lot of hate mail then, so we had to turn it over to authorities. So you have it in your mind that people do stupid things, but I still walk in my neighborhood with my dog at night and do certain things.
 
As a judge, I've learned that people will be back to you and back to you if you don't do something to stop the cycle.
 
The most frequent place that they catch people who didn't show up for court and have warrants against them is the county jail. They go visit somebody. To them, not showing up is like missing a doctor's appointment. That's their mentality. 
 
We have a large overpopulation in the jail because the legislature has made it to where you can lose your license, which is one of the worst things they could do.
 
The legislature doesn't understand unintended consequences. Every session they pass more and more laws. I used to joke when I was first a judge that the Lord only gave us 10 rules. Now we have thousands of laws on the books that nobody even knows are there. The point being is that not everything should be a criminal violation.
 
We lock up more people per capita in the U.S. Georgia is in the top five in that. So we want to keep locking people up and paying for it.
 
A medical malpractice case where the man was disabled after having a heart attack a few days after being released from the hospital would probably be the most memorable case because eight years later I'm in the mountains and I'm having problems. I was on aspirin, which probably saved my life because I had a 95 percent blockage. I thought it was indigestion because those were the symptoms that I was having, but things that I had learned in that case served me well.
 
As far as the future is concerned, when you have budget cutbacks it affects all of the services and you'll pay a price for it, sometimes down the road.
 
The public expects everyone to be perfect except for them, and that's the part that needs to change.
 

To get a copy of this South magazine back issue and read the rest of the Breaking Down the Law story, click here.