There is a new prosecutor in town. Keith Higgins took the oath of office Monday as the newly elected Brunswick Judicial Circuit District Attorney with Glynn County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley presiding over a swearing-in ceremony at Selden Park.
The ceremony took place inside the park’s gymnasium, which was large enough to accommodate the socially distanced crowd of family members, supporters and community leaders who attended. All in attendance were masked in keeping with COVID-19 pandemic precautions.
His first official day as the highest-ranking law enforcement official in the five-county judicial circuit is Jan. 4. The office and its team of attorneys and investigators is responsible for prosecuting criminal cases, advising law enforcement and determining which cases should go to court.
The independent candidate defeated incumbent DA Jackie Johnson in the November election, securing 52.8 percent of the votes in a hotly contested race. Higgins acquired 8,500 signatures, more than double the amount needed, in order to run as an independent for the post.
“I want to thank all the people who worked tirelessly to get me on the ballot and get me elected,” Higgins said. “I want you to know that I still need your help, along with the help of everyone else in this circuit.”
Higgins has practiced law in Glynn County for more than 30 years, both as a defense attorney and as an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Brunswick DA’s office for 23 years. The Mercer Law School graduate has been in private practice for the last 10 years.
The Brunswick Judicial Circuit includes Glynn, Camden, Appling, Jeff Davis and Wayne counties. Higgins said he will establish citizen advisory councils for each county to better understand the issues and needs of each.
Higgins is forming his team of prosecutors and administrators. Jury trials will begin in January for the first time in 10 months.
The DA’s office will be challenged by a considerable backlog of cases that have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases.
To accommodate social distancing requirements, jury selections for Glynn County Superior Court cases will convene at the Selden Park gymnasium where Higgins took his oath of office.