ALBANY -- Coming from humble beginnings, Albany attorney Christopher Warren has spent much of his time outside the office interacting with the younger people in the community.
If he wins the election for Dougherty State Judge against Dougherty Magistrate Judge Victoria Darrisaw, that is a platform he said he is likely to continue.
"I want to try to make a difference in the community," he said. "I want to be part of an upward trend.
"I'll be limited in my role (as state judge), but because I'm a visionary, there is so much I can do that will keep kids from crime and from the court system."
Warren is running against Darrisaw to replace outgoing Judge John Salter.
To read about Christopher Warren's opponent, Victoria Darrisaw, click here.
Warren has a soft spot for youths, having been raised by a single mother on the streets of Washington, D.C. He is now working as an attorney with the Atlanta-based Kenneth S. Nugent law firm, which has an Albany office on North Westover Boulevard.
Occupation: Attorney with Kenneth S. Nugent Law Firm’s Albany office
Post Sought: State Court Judge, Dougherty County
Family: Wife Carol; Children Courtney, 16,
Christopher, 13, Christine, 8
Key Issues: Youth empowerment; Focus on parenting; The presence of judges in the community
"I was able to overcome (the obstacles of my humble beginnings) and become successful," he said. "I had always attended public schools. Being an at-risk youth is not a sentence. I am a living example that that is not an excuse to do less."
When asked about his strengths as a candidate, he cites his 19 years of litigating civil cases, his experience working prosecution and defense on criminal cases, as well as his stint as Albany City Solicitor.
"I've got zero judicial experience, but I've got experience that counts," Warren said. "Every judge has his first day on the bench."
Married for 15 years to Carol Warren and the father of three children, Courtney, Christopher and Christin, the candidate has coached youth soccer with the YMCA as well as coached basketball with the Upward Program. He serves on the Albany Chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and serves as a high school basketball and football official.
Warren said the motto he goes by is "Meet me on the court, not in the court."
"I have mentored youth and young adults, from some just starting high school to those who have just passed the bar," he said.
Warren is a 1990 graduate of Howard University. While there, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for six years. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education, attended Emory University School of Law and received his Doctor of Law degree from the institution in 1993.
He began his legal career as an associate in the office of Judge Michael Bellamy in Phenix City, Ala., and afterward served as a public defender in the Fulton County Public Defender's Office. He opened a law practice in Dougherty County in 1999, and later become an instructor of constitutional law and U.S. government at Albany State University.
He worked with judges during and after law school, clerking for a few. He also interned for Penny Marshall, who worked as the defense counsel during the Brian Nichols murder trial, he said.
"You name it, I've done it," Warren said.
Warren was later recruited by Beauchamp and Associates, where he remained until he served as Albany City Solicitor. He left his job with the city in 2009 to take on his current position.
He said his reason for going into law was relatively simple.
"I flunked Algebra II when I was in high school, so I decided to focus on my skills," he said. "I knew I had literacy skills, and I liked working with people."
If elected to replace Salter, Warren said he would explore expanded use of committal hearings so that judicial resources are not spent to house people in jail who can be weeded out of the system earlier.
He said he also wants to establish a greater community presence for the position.
"This would be so the community can interact with the judge without being in trouble," Warren said. "I want to let people see that I'm a real person."
In reference to such incidents as what killed this year's Independence Day celebration in downtown Albany, a focus on parenting is something Warren also wants to bring to the forefront, he said.
"Through cooperation with the district attorney's office and law enforcement, we can hold parents accountable," he said.
His first official act as judge, he said, will be a prayer for the court and for Dougherty County. If he's not elected, he will continue what he's been doing outside the courtroom.
"Everything I'm doing for the campaign, I have been doing," Warren said. "I've been mentoring for years, and taking (the children I've mentored) through college. I will just keep doing it.
"I will continue to do what I can for Dougherty County."
Warren said he feels confident he can fill Salter's shoes.
"I want to take things to another level," he said. "I want to take things in a new direction. Youth is my focus. I want to bring fresh ideas to do more to impact youth."