Spalding County judge turns to social media to find missing defendants | News

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SPALDING COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) — A Spalding County judge is hearing positive feedback after turning to social media for help tracking down people who have missed their court dates.

State Court Judge Josh Thacker oversees misdemeanor cases including traffic tickets. He has been known to personally call people who missed their scheduled court dates and said people who forgot are often extremely apologetic and will show up to take care of it. 

He wanted to take it a step further to reach more people, so he turned to social media.

He recently posted three lists of names of defendants in different categories who missed their court dates, hoping either they or someone they know saw the list and told them about it. He only posted names of people who hadn’t missed a previous court date.

Spalding County judge turns to social media to find missing defendants

“My position on it is everybody has a moment where they miss something, and so we give them their first pass, we bring them back in and say, ‘come just get engaged, come in, sign your reset notice, give us a good address and telephone number,’” said Judge Thacker.

He’s giving them a chance to either pay their ticket or reset their court date without penalty. He said the positive feedback has been overwhelming and he’s had success with people seeing the Facebook posts, and coming forward to get their case back on track. 

“All in all everybody won in this situation, especially the defendants who didn’t get their license suspended and who didn’t end up going to the Spalding County jail on a bench warrant,” he said. 

“I didn’t know I had a court date,” said Elexus Alexander, 19, who was surprised when friends shared the judge’s post with her name on it after she failed to appear for a speeding ticket.

She said she was nervous about maybe having to go to jail, but was happy to hear she was given the chance to show up in person to reset her court date. 

“I think it was great, I think it was nice ‘cause if I would have never known, I would have gotten in trouble for it, but I’m glad he did it, I’m glad he did it for me,” she said. “He’s caring.”

“It only had an impact because Spalding County reacted to it and had a positive reaction,” said Judge Thacker. “I’ve just been so honored at how many times these three posts have been shared and interacted with and commented on. It exceeded my wildest expectations.”

He plans to continue the Facebook outreach.

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