Judge Ralph Van Pelt Jr., a Lookout Mountain Circuit Superior Court judge, announced today that he will be a candidate for reelection in the non-partisan election in 2018.
The Lookout Mountain Circuit is composed of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker counties. Two of the four circuit judges are elected every two years. Judge Van Pelt and Judge Don Thompson are on the governor's election year, and Judge Kristina Cook Graham and Judge Brian House are on the president's election year.
Judge Van Pelt was bom in Summerville, Ga., and now lives in Ringgold. A graduate of Berry College and the University of Georgia School of Law, he started in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit as an assistant district attorney.
As assistant DA, Van Pelt prosecuted the "Devil Worshiper" murder cases of Dr. Charles Scudder and Joey Odom at Corpsewood Manor in Trion, as well as the grisly torture murder case against Judith and Alvin Neelley.
After five years in private practice in Ringgold with county attorney Clifton M. (Skip) Patty, Van Pelt was elected district attorney and held that office from Jan. 1,1989, until appointment to the Superior Court bench in September 1996. As DA, Judge Van Pelt prosecuted all the homicide cases of the entire circuit.
Judge Van Pelt has run unopposed since his first election in 1988. In the last 21 years, he has tried every kind of case from medical malpractice to murder to speeding.
If the voters are kind enough to re-elect him. Judge Van Pelt looks forward to having provided 30 continuous years of public service to the citizens of the Lookout Mountain Circuit as of Jan. 1, 2019.