Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

September 28, 2012

Ellerbee: Court dismissed

VALDOSTA — Judge Wayne Ellerbee is retiring after 40 years of service as the juvenile court judge. A colorful figure, Ellerbee’s name is often whispered in hushed tones by school children who have heard of his no-holds-barred approach.

Ellerbee’s tongue-lashings are legendary. Parents and children alike often weep after an appearance before him. His anger is most often directed at the parents, or rather mothers and grandmothers, as fathers are rare in the courtroom. And that’s precisely Ellerbee’s point.

According to the judge, if he could lock up the parents, he would, as most of them are perfectly aware of what their children are doing but are either too sorry or doped up to care. Occasionally, he does get a mother and father who are really trying to raise their child right, but those times are rare and getting rarer.

Ellerbee has been seen as too strict, over-bearing, and not sympathetic enough. But he metes out punishment evenly, speaks to everyone in the same manner, and treats those in his courtroom the same, case after case, no exceptions. And no excuses.

All too often, the best he can hope for is that by sending the child to a facility for a month, to counseling, to monitoring, etc., that child will make the conscious decision that a life of crime is not what they want and they’ll turn themselves around and become productive adults. Too many of these children are their only hope, as they have no family unit, their lives are marked with violent, abusive or neglectful behavior on the part of those who “made” them, and there is nowhere else to send them for help.

Ellerbee has seen a lot in four decades, and is now seeing third- and fourth-generation offenders. Children are having children at a younger age, and younger children are committing crimes. While the criminal cases are tragic for many reasons, the neglect cases are heartbreaking, and the judge said those are the ones that will stay with him always.

James Council will be sworn in next week as the new juvenile judge and Ellerbee will return to practicing law full time. Whether you agree with his tactics and courtroom demeanor or not, it’s a rare individual who does not respect him, however begrudgingly, because he treats everyone the same without respect to race, sex, age, or economic status.

You’ve earned your retirement, Judge Ellerbee, but your legacy is in the lives of the children you have saved and, hopefully, will be expressed in the parents they will one day become.

1
Text Only
What We Think
  • The Times belongs to you

    The Valdosta Daily Times belongs to you. As we move forward with new leadership in our newsroom, we want you to know about our continued commitment to the communities we serve.

    July 28, 2014

  • The art of plenty to do

    In Sunday’s paper, readers found an extensive list of shows, exhibits, concerts and more for the upcoming arts seasons in Valdosta-Lowndes County.

    July 27, 2014

  • The power of One

    Christine Batson wondered the same thing that many people wonder.

    July 26, 2014

  • Thumbs Up

    THUMBS UP: To Air Force Lt. Col. David Rayman. The 75th Fighter Squadron commander recently logged 3,000 flight hours in the A-10C Thunderbolt II. A rare feat. In presenting a Moody Air Force Base story on his accomplishment in The Times, it’s good to see the face and know the name of one of the many pilots who cross our South Georgia skies. Congratulations on 3,000 and thank you for your service.

    July 26, 2014

  • Closing another summer chapter

    The South Georgia Regional Library brings its 2014 summer reading program to a close this weekend with an event that celebrates readers and writers.

    July 24, 2014

  • Countdown for voter apathy

    If you don’t think your vote counts, talk to Ellis Black and John Page today.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vote to remove signs

    Congratulations to the winners in the primary runoff election Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Runoff election counts today

    Today is an election day that started just a little more than two months ago.

    July 21, 2014

  • PSST! Only one week left

    Peach State Summer Theatre enters its final week of performances for the 2014 season. This means there are only a few more opportunities left to see “Mary Poppins,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” and “42nd Street.”

    July 20, 2014

  • The wisdom of animals

    Animals may be smarter than us. If you don’t think so take a look at how we humans deal with the oppressive heat of summer. Compare our activities with those of animals.

    July 19, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results