Morgan County Probate Judge Charles Merritt last Wednesday, Sept. 22, swore in Julie Ruark, 36, as the new associate magistrate judge of Morgan County.

Judge Ruark is filling the void in the Morgan County Magistrate Office left by the untimely death of Associate Judge Sonny Wood, 55. Judge Wood died from COVID-19 on Sept. 8. Judge Wood had served Morgan County as its associate magistrate judge for more than 20 years, said Morgan County Magistrate Judge Connie Holt.

Judge Holt said Friday that Ruark, who has worked in the Morgan County Magistrate Judge’s Office for more than three years, was selected based on her extensive knowledge of the office on both the criminal and civil sides and her ability to undergo extensive education. Judge Ruark will be required to complete 40 hours of both criminal and civil training to fulfill her role as associate magistrate judge, Judge Holt said.

Her duties will include signing arrest warrants and presiding over first appearance hearings when Judge Holt is unavailable. Judge Holt said she was pleased with Ruark’s assignment. “I needed someone we could depend on,” she said. Judge Ruark will act as Morgan County’s Magistrate judge primarily on weekends and nights if Judge Holt is absent.

Recently the Morgan County Magistrate Judges Office has suffered several employee absences with COVID. Judge Holt fought the virus for four weeks before recently returning to duty. During that time and with Judge Wood’s death, she said, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Alison Burleson stepped in and performed many of Judge Holt’s duties. “If she hadn’t done that I don’t know what we would have done,” said Judge Holt.

Judge Ruark is a Bostwick resident and is married to Basil Ruark. The couple has one daughter.

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