Blevins said that he felt the qualifications that Wilbanks had been touting were misleading.
“I’ve called many lawyers,” Blevins said. “No one has said I’ve seen Judge Wilbanks around the courthouse to do all these things...I wanted to check it out. I wanted to be sure. We’ve gone through the courthouse and we’ve pulled the records. We’ve spent hours and hours, days and days pulling the records. This is what the numbers said. Judge Wilbanks is in Whitfield County. That’s where he’s filed most of his cases since 1999 he’s filed 60 different cases in Whitfield County. That doesn’t count any orders for him to sit in as judge. Of those 60 cases, 52 are domestic, three of them are name change, two are estate disputes, one is a default judgement, and 86.7% are domestic. That’s not a general practice lawyer. That’s not a lawyer that’s going out and trying to get all the different practices that he could. Also during this time, we’ve checked Whitfield, Murray and the five surrounding counties. We did not find a single jury trial. The last jury trial that Mr. Wilbanks tried in Whitfield County was in March of 1992. He’s only tried two in Whitfield County...”
Wilbanks said that is was interesting information and he could have told Blevins that if he had asked.
“Unfortunately those numbers don’t indicate the many cases that were handled without filing suit,” Wilbanks said. “Those numbers don’t include the number of workers compensation cases, it doesn’t include other cases that have been resolved by any other court...I’m also a very active mediator...hundreds of those cases...that Judge Blevins is not going to find...attornies in town come to me...those numbers...I don’t think he’s saying that I don’t have 30 years experience as an attorney...I think he’s throwing numbers, and that’s fine.”
The candidates were then asked why does where the candidates live in the circuit affect the way they would judge.
“Has no effect whatsoever,” Wilbanks said. “One of the points I’ve raised...of the four superior court judgesnone of the judges...have what I call vested interest in Murray County...my parents, my great grandparents for generations have lived in Murray County...raised animals, raised families, had farms...and I have a vested interest in Murray County. And Murray County hasn’t seen a judge...since Charlie Panell.”
“First of all, Jim Wilbanks is not a resident of Murray County,” Blevins said. “He lives three miles further from Murray County than I do...the question is how do you treat people from Murray County? And if you want to know how I treat people from Murray County, go to the courthouse. Ask the people... I love people and I care what happens. And I have treated the people of Murray County as good as any judge that’s ever walked through that courthouse door and I will continue to do that because it’s the right thing to do, that’s why I do this is because I care.”
Wilbnks said he had never said he lived in Murray County.
“This is where my family has always been from, my mom and dad still live here and I have a heart for Murray County,” Wilbanks said. “If you don’t already know it, there are a lot of differences between Murray County and Whitfield County. I hope there remain a lot of differences...for generations to come. Murray is a very special place...Murray Countians are honest, handshakes makes deals, a man is his word...Murray Countains know how to work and I’m happy to come from that same grade of people and character of people that Murray County is made of, that’s the point that’s important to me.”