Kelly Kautz 2020



Judges must be willing to think beyond standard sentences that only involve probation or incarceration. I want to focus on many elements of sentencing reform including balancing rehabilitation with punishment, and focusing on the root of the problem. For repeat offenders or violent offenders there may be a need for lengthy prison sentences, but in an updated 2018 study, the Bureau of Justice found that harsh prison sentences alone do not prevent recidivism or deter crime. Education does deter crime. statistics show that there is a correlation between a lack of education and crime. I will require every defendant who appears in my courtroom to work towards a GED. There are several programs that offer free GED courses within our county. I will also link the sentence to the crime by mandating conditions of probation. I believe in utilizing the resources that we already have in our community to do so. For instance, if someone burglarizes a home then I will require them to perform community service at a local Habitat for Humanity building new houses. As your judge I will not only be tough on crime, I will be smart on crime.


A judge must never forget that each case no matter how large or small involves real life events that affect real people. The public must leave a courtroom knowing that they were treated with dignity and respect. I believe that respect is a pillar of our justice system. Respect must be shown for both people and the law. As your judge, I will demand that each person act respectfully and be treated with respect inside my courtroom from the Defendants, to the attorneys, jurors, witnesses, court staff, and law enforcement officers. 


 I am an advocate for second chances if deserved. I do not believe that poor decision making when someone was 18, 19 or in their 20's should automatically ruin the rest of their lives. As judge, I would readily allow defendants to be granted first offender as permitted by law. First offender allows a person to complete a sentence without having a criminal record. I would also take advantage of a 2015 law that now allows retroactive first offender treatment. This law allows those who successfully completed their sentences, but did not originally seek first offender to go back and petition the judge for it. As judge I would be happy to grant retroactive first offender status to those people who qualified in order to provide them with a second chance.I serve on the Board for STRAP, a non-profit program to help juveniles who are high risk for delinquency by providing mentoring, scared straight, and life skills. I support creating a community outreach program for our youthful and non-violent adult offenders similar to STRAP to help end the prison cycle.   


I have practiced in courts throughout the State of Georgia, and have used these experiences to learn ways that other courts operate more efficiently. As judge I would implement policies to the best use of everyone's time. For example, I would start court in a timely manner, and I would use standard pre-trial orders to notify all parties of the upcoming court dates at their first court appearance in criminal matters. I understand the high demand on an attorney's time and the cost to clients when attorneys have to wait. I would permit attorneys to make announcements for status hearing calendars and other matters electronically or by phone. In the current environment of the health crisis, we as attorneys have learned that we can use technology more, and I would continue to do so in a post Covid-19 courtroom.  


 A Judge must assure that the system of justice in the United States remains the best in the world. In order to accomplish this, a person must leave the courtroom satisfied that they were given a fair and impartial hearing. Studies show that bias in a judge is not necessarily related to the ethnicity or gender of the judge, but rather to the judge's lack of diversity in legal experiences. I will bring impartiality to the bench. I have worked as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. But, I was not a career prosecutor.  As a civil attorney I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants, and as a domestic attorney I have represented mothers, fathers and the children. Now, as a Guardian ad Litem, I serve as a neutral party to provide independent recommendations to the Court. I do not have any predispositions, and I will not be disqualified from hearing cases. A good judge, a fair judge enters a courtroom without predetermined conclusions, and relies on the laws and the Constitution. I will do exactly that. 


I understand the importance of having judicial staff that is both highly qualified and reflective of the community. When I was elected the first female of Snellville in 2011 I experienced sexism firsthand. Then in 2013, when I hired the first African-American City Clerk for Snellville, I along with the new clerk was locked out of the administrative areas of city hall. I fought those actions all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court and prevailed. As judge I will assure that my staff is highly qualified and representative of our community.