A few years back, Judge Sidney Nation grew tired of seeing lawyers show up in court unprepared, fumbling through presentations and mumbling when questioned. So for the next court session, Rockdale County’s chief Superior Court judge ordered them to show up at 6 a.m.
Another time, he called them in for a night session for wasting his time.
His methods have sunk in. Last week, during a court calendar call, he abruptly postponed a case, causing the next attorney on the docket to jump from his seat and, with a windmill arm motion, hurry his client to the witness stand.
Nation boasted from the bench that the circuit has no case backlog. In Rockdale County court, the trains run on time. But now after nearly 30 years, he’s stepping off that train, retiring at month’s end. Nation might have whipped the Rockdale legal bar to his liking but, at age 70, he said he has grown weary of hearing the same old excuses from the endless stream of dysfunctional people who appear before him.
Through the decades, Nation has become controversial, rendering unusual sentences to try to reach some defendants he deemed unreachable by orthodox means.
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