The Magistrate Court has jurisdiction to issue warrants for all criminal offenses, hold committal hearings, issue citations for bad checks and violations of zoning ordinances, and issue good behavior bonds. The Magistrate Court also has civil jurisdiction on cases up to $15,000.00 if exclusive jurisdiction is not vested in the Superior Court. Garnishments may also be filed in the Magistrate Court. The Magistrate Court issues subpoenas to compel attendance of witnesses, conducts hearings and trials and, when requested, Magistrates serve as judges in other Courts. Magistrates also perform wedding ceremonies.
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Chief Judge: Baxter Howell
Judge Baxter C. Howell was appointed as a Dougherty County Magistrate on November 1, 1991 and has been the Chief Magistrate for Dougherty County since January l, 1997.
Howell is a double dog graduate of the University of Georgia and the University of Georgia Law School. He obtained his Master’s in Business Administration from Valdosta State University.
While in service, he graduated from the Armor Basic Course, the Advanced Infantry Course, the Army Command and General Staff Course, and the Air Force War College. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed with the 6th Armored Cavalry Squadron at Fort Meade, Maryland. He also served with HHC, 2/121 Inf (M), GAARNG located in Albany, GA, as well as HHC, 48th Inf Bde (M) in Macon, Ga. His last duty station was in Atlanta with the Headquarters for the Georgia Army National Guard.
While serving as a Magistrate for Dougherty County, Georgia, Howell was appointed to the Executive Committee for the Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Judges. He was also named Magistrate of the Year for the State of Georgia and has taught at Continuing Judicial Seminars for Georgia Magistrate Judges.
Judge Victoria Johnson
The Honorable Judge Victoria M. Johnson was appointed to serve Magistrate Court on November 30, 2018. Prior to her appointment, Judge Johnson served the citizens of Dougherty County as the Project Manager for the Domestic Violence Unit and as an Assistant District Attorney in the Office of the Dougherty County District Attorney, where she exhibited exceptional commitment to victims and to the community. Johnson previously served as an Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit in Jacksonville, Florida. She is not unfamiliar with public service in that she was a public school teacher prior to pursuing her law degree and continues in her love for teaching as an Adjunct Professor of Business Law at Albany State University.
A past president of the Dougherty County Bar Association, Judge Johnson is a well-respected and highly regarded bar leader and community servant. She has served in a number of leadership capacities, both professionally and in her community, including the Board of Directors of the Liberty House Domestic Violence Shelter, the City of Albany/Dougherty County Ethics Board, and the Stop the Violence Taking Authority Board. She currently serves on the Local School Governance Team at International Studies Elementary School. Johnson has been an active member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church for more than a decade, where she currently serves actively as a Sunday School Teacher, a Deaconess and in the Music Ministry.
Recognized both for her commitment to her profession and the community, Judge Johnson has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Southwest
Georgia 40 under 40 (2011), and was recognized for distinguished and devoted service award to the Dougherty County Bar Association (2015-2016) and (2012-2014).
Johnson earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Florida and her Juris Doctor Degree from the Florida A& M University. She is a member of the Georgia and Florida Bars and resides in Albany with her husband, Aaron, and they are the proud parents of two daughters.
Judge Meyer von Bremen
Judge Michael S. Meyer von Bremen was sworn in as a Dougherty County Magistrate on June 3, 2019. A native of Albany, Meyer von Bremen is an Eagle Scout. He is a 1979 graduate of Mercer University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in German and a 1983 graduate of Mercer Law School. While at Mercer, he was a member of Delta Sigma Rho Tau Kappa Alpha Honorary Forensics Society and Cardinal Key National Honor Society.
Meyer von Bremen returned to Albany in 1983, joining the firm of Black, Black and Cannon; then was a founding partner of Cannon and Meyer von Bremen and later in 2002, he joined the firm of Hall, Booth, Smith and Slover, serving as managing partner of its Albany office. In 1999, Meyer von Bremen was elected to the first of five terms as State Senator. While in this capacity, he served as Chair of the Ethics Committee, Chair of the Special Judiciary Committee and one term as Minority Leader. He also did committee work with the National Council of State Legislators. He has been active in his community, serving as President of the Dougherty Circuit Bar Association, the Albany Sertoma Club, Albany Helpline and of the Mercer University College of Liberal Arts National Alumni Association. Meyer von Bremen has served on the Boards of the American Cancer Society, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Independent College Association and United Way.
He is a 2012 recipient of the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service; the 2008 King Celebration Dream Award and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America from 2010 to 2019. He attends Porterfield Memorial United Methodist Church, where he has chaired its Board of Trustees and sings in the choir. He and his wife, Peggy, have two adult daughters.
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