Gary Sinrich has retired from his position as municipal court judge for the city of Hinesville after 26 years of service.
Sinrich, whose last official day was Aug. 31, was named municipal court judge in 1987. Prior to his appointment as judge, Sinrich worked in the district attorney’s office, spent time as a public defender and also served as law clerk for Superior Court Judge Paul Caswell.
Originally from Thomaston, Sinrich moved to Hinesville with his parents in 1950. After graduating from Bradwell Institute in 1961, he moved to Milledgeville to attend the Georgia Military College. Sinrich later transferred to the University of Georgia, where he graduated with a degree in political science.
Sinrich attended law school at Mercer University in Macon. It was during his tenure there that Sinrich met his wife, Donna, who was working as a special-education teacher. He said they dated for about a year before marrying.
After graduating from Mercer in 1969, Sinrich spent two years on active duty in the Army, one of which he served in Vietnam. Although his military specialty was in communications, Sinrich said he did a lot of work with JAG because of his law degree.
Following his stint in the military, Sinrich came back to Hinesville with his family to begin his law career. He opened his private practice in 1974.
After practicing law for over 40 years, Sinrich has plenty of stories to tell. He recalled one particular DUI case that came through his municipal court.
“When I first became judge, we had a case where this little old lady was charged with a driving under the influence offense,” Sinrich said. “And I mean, if you looked up grandmother in the encyclopedia, you would have seen a picture of this lady — she was the epitome of a grandmother.
“I said, ‘Ma’am, how do you plead?’ And she says, ‘Well, judge, I was intoxicated, but I must tell you that it was not from alcohol. It was from the fumes of the gasoline engine, and that’s why I appeared to be intoxicated.’
“Well, I didn’t believe her for a minute, but it was such a novel answer, and she was such a sweet little lady, that I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and just find her not guilty’ — until I found out that this was like her fourth or fifth DUI. So, I had to change my mind on that.”
Sinrich said that although he has enjoyed his long career, he looks forward to retirement and spending time with his wife of over 46 years.
“I want to go out on my own terms,” he said. “I don’t want to be forced out.”
Sinrich also said that his wife, who has been retired for four years, is ready for him to turn in his gavel.
“She basically told me that she was ready to do a little traveling, and that she’d love to have me go with her — but if I didn’t, she’d send me some postcards,” he added with a chuckle.