Judge Render M. Heard, Jr. is currently the Judge of the Juvenile Courts of the Tifton Judicial Circuit where he has presided over cases involving children in Tift, Worth, Turner and Irwin Counties since 2012.
Judge Heard graduated from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law with his Juris Doctor degree in 1997. Prior to that, he completed his undergraduate curriculum at Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts in 1992 where he was a member of Beta, Beta, Beta and Alpha Epsilon Delta Honor Societies earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology.
After graduating law school, Judge Heard moved to Tifton, Georgia and began a private practice concentrating in general and family law litigation. From 2000 to 2004, he served as Assistant Solicitor General for the State Court of Tift County. In 2004, he was appointed as a Special Assistant Attorney General to represent the Georgia Department of Human Resources in child abuse and neglect cases. Prior to that time, he served as a parent attorney and guardian ad litem for children involved in juvenile and superior court matters.
Throughout his legal career, Judge Heard has been committed to improving the legal profession through his work with the State Bar of Georgia. Since 2010, he has served as the Tifton Judicial Circuit’s representative member on the State Bar’s Board of Governors serving on a variety of committees during that time. Currently, he serves on the Member Benefits and the Children and Courts Committees, and he is vice-chairman of the SOLACE committee. He is a lifetime Fellow of the Lawyer’s Foundation of Georgia, and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Young Lawyer's Division of the State Bar of Georgia from 2000-2004. He is also a member and past president of the Tifton Bar Association.
Since his appointment to the bench, Judge Heard has been active on Georgia’s Council of Juvenile Court Judges, often appearing as a speaker for the Council’s continuing education seminars. In May of 2018, Judge Heard was elected as Treasurer of the Council and is currently serving the Council in that capacity.
Presently, Judge Heard also sits on the State’s Child Advocate Advisory Committee, having been appointed to that post in 2015 by Speaker of the House David Ralston. The Child Advocate Advisory Committee is a seven member board that advises the state’s Office of the Child Advocate whose mission is to protect, assist and restore the security of the children of the State of Georgia by overseeing the work of state agencies providing services to those children and their families.
In 2016, Judge Heard was honored to receive the Georgia Conference on Children and Families’ Friend of Children and Families Award as an individual in our state who has made a significant commitment to making a difference for children in foster care and juvenile justice placements.
Evidence and Hearsay Rule in Child Welfare Proceedings