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The introduction of a bill to create a new judicial circuit containing Newton and Walton counties was a front-page story in The Covington News on Jan. 20, 1972.

Maybe it was a gamble to look up the number for Greeley Ellis the other day, but I dialed and he answered.

“Judge Ellis,” he corrected me.

With that, we had quite a conversation reliving the history of the Alcovy Circuit.

The Covington News in 1972 included his name among local lawyers opposing the circuit’s creation — ironic, given that four years later, the state created a second seat on the bench and the governor put him there. Ellis served until 1989, when he resigned to run for governor, finishing third in the GOP primary to a state representative named Johnny?Isakson.

Judge Ellis, now 88 and retired, disputed The News’ account and said he was too busy in January 1972 to get involved one way or the other. But it’s clear there was opposition to creating the Alcovy Circuit, just as there is opposition in Newton County to continuing it.

I was interested to see that neither of the papers that serve as the legal organs in the respective counties bothered to speak with Rep. Marvin Sorrells, the Monroe legislator who pushed this. Sorrells — who himself later served as chief judge of the circuit — died in 2019. But his daughter, Laura, told me he was so proud to have been the architect of the change.

“It was a very big deal to Dad,” she said. “He was always appreciative of (then-Gov. Jimmy) Carter’s willingness to work with him on it.”

I didn’t ask Laura, but I can’t imagine her father would have thought the split is a good idea.

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