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Tobar pushes plan to end magistrate hearings in commission chamber

Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar is recommending Chief Magistrate Larry Bearden conduct hearings at the Grady County Detention Center rather than in the commission chamber at the courthouse.
However, county commissioners delayed action on the recommendation Tuesday deciding to postpone making a decision until the magistrate could appear before the board to discuss the proposal.
According to Tobar, some courthouse personnel have expressed concern about shackled inmates being taken down the main hallway of the courthouse to access the commission chamber.
Inmates brought to the courthouse for all other court procedures are typically brought in through the south entrance and up the stairwell to the second floor where a detention cell is located.
“This change would only affect one person and that is the magistrate,” Tobar said.
The county administrator said Bearden could use one of the county pool vehicles to drive to the detention center for hearings and would not have to utilize his own vehicle unless a county vehicle was not available.
By conducting hearings in the commission chamber the sheriff’s office is having to transport inmates to the courthouse rather than utilizing the courtroom at the detention center complex.
“I would hate to do anything until we invite him to be here and we can give our reasons for making this change and listen to his side of it. We’ve done things in the past without him here and nothing ever gets done,” Vice Chairman T.D. David said.
Commissioner Charles Norton agreed and suggested a workshop meeting with the magistrate be scheduled.
“I think that is where he ought to hold court, but I have no problem if we have a work session. I don’t think he (Chief Magistrate Bearden) will have a problem with it,” Commissioner Elwyn Childs said.
No date for a meeting with Bearden was set Tuesday night.
On several occasions current and past boards of commissioners have discussed the idea of moving the entire magistrate court operation to the detention center, but Bearden has opposed the move and his office remains in the county courthouse.

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