Cannon was the circuit’s solicitor general from January 2003 until resigning this May.
He was then elected to the Superior Court seat after defeating Woodstock attorney Mark Shriver for the seat left open by longstanding Judge Frank C. Mills III, who decided not to seek reelection.
“When the opportunity arose, many people in the legal community as well as the community at large reached out to me,” he said.
The election was Cannon’s fourth contested election within 10 years.
“To win an open seat and to do so with the level of support I achieved is very remarkable and humbling,” he said.
As solicitor, Cannon prosecuted cases for State Court.
“Over 10 years, I reviewed probably 40,000 misdemeanor cases and 100,000 or more traffic cases,” he said.
Cannon said he is looking forward to having more of a direct impact on individuals in the courtroom when he steps into Superior Court in January.
“When you see in criminal cases someone that might need another opportunity, we need to encourage that as opposed to locking them up forever,” he said.
Before taking office as solicitor, Cannon spent seven years in private practice and has been working in private practice over the last six months during the illness and death of his father, David Cannon Sr.
“Coming back to private practice has been very useful to me. I’ve seen where there are things we need to work on,” he said.
Cannon has sat in on about a dozen cases since being elected to the bench, including a divorce.
“That’s a tough thing to do. At the end of the day, I had to decide where the kids were going to go,” he said. “You have to trust that you’re prepared for it.”
Cannon’s also looking forward to learning while he’s on the bench.
“I’ll have the opportunity to learn about more facets of law. You kind of become a mini-expert on all sorts of things,” he said.
Coming from high-volume State Court, Cannon said he hopes he use take the skills he gained in handling a large number of cases to make things more efficient in Superior Court. He would also like to improve the flow of information between agencies in the legal system.
Cannon has served for two years on the State Bar of Georgia’s criminal justice reform committee.
“The whole goal is to analyze our system statewide and try to come up with better solutions,” he said. “We’re spending $1 billion on prisons in Georgia, and we’re not getting a good return.”
He has also served on the bar association’s board of governors and has been president of the Georgia Association of Solicitors General.
Cannon was instrumental in starting a drug court for misdemeanor offenses (mostly marijuana-related) in state court and hopes to help with the implementation of a planned drug court for felony offenders.
“(Drug use) was the biggest problem I saw. It’s rampant among our youth, to an extent I don’t think the public understands,” he said.
Half the marijuana cases Cannon saw in state court involved people 21 and younger, he said.
Cannon said taking over the seat vacated by Mills is “daunting.”
“He has been such a pinnacle of our legal community,” Cannon said. “The majority of judges in our circuit have tried cases, most of them in front of Judge Mills. In essence, he’s trained all of us.”
Mills, who swore Cannon in as a judge, said he’s leaving the seat “in good hands” and praised Cannon as a man who puts his family first.
During his swearing-in ceremony, Cannon said his family members had been examples to him and had given him much of his legal training.
“My family is a part of me,” he said.