Outside my office at the Fayette County Justice Center are some benches in the hallway. People sit there as they wait to go to court. I’m sensitive to the fact that this is a very important day for them, and I speak to them unless they seem too busy.
This week one lady spoke to me first. She told me that her daughter had been my student at Georgia Military College where I teach at night. After taking my class, she wants to become a lawyer.
I love it when that happens. It feels great to play even a small role in the career of another.
When I practiced law with Daddy, we hired law clerks who were still in law school. Three of them later became magistrate judges. One became chairman of the school board years ago.
As District Attorney I have watched employees advance in their careers. Several of our former prosecutors are now in private practice. One teaches at a community college. Teresa Harper ran for and was elected Clerk of Superior Court in Upson County.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not claiming that I influenced their successes. I’m just proud of them.
Very soon we will lose another prosecutor. Ben Thomsen, who has been working in the Fayette office, is going to seminary to become a Catholic priest.
That takes guts. I watched my cousin, Stacy Sauls, follow a similar path. A stand-out student at the University of Virginia School of Law, he graduated and took a great job in the legal department for Delta Airlines. Then he followed the call to become an Episcopal priest. I know the value I place upon my career. I deeply admire Stacy for the courage and discipleship he demonstrated by giving up so promising a legal career to serve as a minister.
Ben’s sacrifice is similar, but perhaps more costly. He will not be able to have a wife or children.
But, when you talk with Ben, you don’t encounter a martyr. Not at all. He is excited. He is honored. He can’t wait to get started. He just wants to serve and fulfil the purposes for which he was created.
That’s a common trait around here.
Many of the people that work for you in the DA’s office could make more money elsewhere. One day, perhaps, that’s what they will do.
But, today they serve here. They assist people who were minding their own business and suddenly became victims of crime. They drop what they are doing and help law enforcement officers as they protect you and me. They approach their work with a religious zeal.
So, I can’t lose. When they leave, I burst with pride. That’s how I feel right now about Ben Thomsen.
And while they are here, I watch them fight for justice with servants’ hearts.
Let me tell you, that is a beautiful thing to watch.
Scott Ballard is District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which consists of Fayette, Pike, Spalding and Upson counties.