Case Assistance

Criminal Cases
If you require assistance or information regarding a pending criminal case assigned to Judge Bass, please contact his Criminal Case Manager, Debbie Dillard Smith at (912) 652-7138.

Civil Cases
If you require assistance or information regarding a pending civil case assigned to Judge Bass, please contact his Administrative Assistant, Gloria Frazier at (912) 652-7154.

Drug Court

Judge Bass is responsible for Chatham County's: Drug Court Program

Please read these two important notices before proceeding.

I. Court Reporters
Court Reporters record court proceedings for a fee that is prescribed by law.  They also transcribe proceedings upon request.  Anyone requesting a copy of a transcript must pay the per page cost, except where the requesting party is indigent.  Court Reporters are always present in criminal proceedings and habeas corpus hearings. 

A Court Reporter will only be present in Civil and Family Law Cases if a party requests a court reporter to be present to record the proceedings.  The request must be made to the Office of the Court Reporter, 912-652-7168, prior to the day of the hearing. Failure to have a court reporter present to report your case may have an adverse effect on your ability to appeal the ruling of the court.

The party requesting the court reporter is responsible for full payment unless the other party(ies) agree to share the cost.

II. Mediation
By a Standing Order of the Chatham County Superior Court Judges, most Civil and Family Law cases must be mediated before a pretrial conference or final hearing.  Click here to download the Standing Order.

Parties are responsible for complying with this Standing Order before requesting a pretrial conference or final hearing.

For more information visit the Savannah Mediation Center and the Alternative Dispute Resiloution Division (ADR).

Jury Trials
After mediation has failed or been exempt a request may be made by letter to the judge.  You will receive notice of a pretrial hearing and will be expected to complete and consolidate the Pretrial Order required by the Uniform Superior Court Rules.

Bench Trials
After mediation has failed or been exempt a request may be made by letter to the judge.  You will receive notice of the scheduled bench trial date and time.

Ex parte (one-sided) Communications
Under very rare circumstances, a judge may speak with a party on one side of a case without the other present; for instance in family violence matters and in emergency situations involving child custody.  In all other instances, all parties must be present to address the judge. 

Any letter or other document must be sent to all parties or their lawyer and the letter or document must show that all parties or their lawyers have been sent a copy.  Failure to do so will result either in the mail or document being returned to you and it will result in no action being taken by the judge on your request.

Legal Advice and Assistance
Please do not expect to be able to speak with Judge Bass on the telephone as that would be considered an ex parte communication.  None of Judge Bass’ staff will relay messages to her about the merits of a case as that also would be considered improper under the rules of ethics.

Neither the judge nor his secretary, case manager and staff attorney can assist you with any legal matter.
Visit Georgia Legal Services Program at for more information.

Visits to the Judge’s Office
Due to security procedures, only lawyers or those who have been given an appointment are permitted into a judge’s office.  If you need to deliver documents they may be left at the security desk.  Runners are permitted to bring rule nisis, bond hearing petitions and similar pleadings to the judge’s secretary.

Judge Bass's Judicial Biography

Judge James F. Bass, Jr. was appointed to the Superior Court on May 18, 1995 by Governor Zell Miller. Prior to his judicial appointment, Judge Bass was the Supervising Attorney for the Savannah Regional Office of the Georgia Legal Services Program. He formerly served as Chairman of the Access to Justice and Fairness in the Courts committee of the Council of Superior Court Judges from 2000-2008, and Chairman of the Georgia State Commission on Family Violence from 2006-2009. Additionally he was a member of the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Marriage, Children and Family Law from 2007-2009, the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Equality and the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Drug Courts from 2006-2009. He currently serves on the Accountability and Treatment Courts Committee of the Council of Superior Court Judges, the Peer Review Team of the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia and the Executive Committee of the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia. Judge Bass began the first Accountability Court in Chatham County on October 2, 2001 with the establishment of the Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court. The Savannah-Chatham County Drug Court was designated as a National Mentor Drug Court from 2013-2016 and 2017-2019 by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Drug Court Institute.

As for private organizations, he formerly served on the Beach Institute Historic Neighborhood Association, 1981-1983; Chatham/Effingham Regional Board for Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse 1995-8; Chatham/Savannah Citizens Advocacy Inc., Chatham/Savannah Youth Authority Advisory Council from 1990-1995; City of Savannah's Crime Collaborative from 1993-4; Board of Directors Parent and Child Developmental Services Inc, from 1983-1986; Tidelands Mental Health/Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Community Service Board from 1991-1994; Board of Trustees for St. Joseph/Candler Hospital System 1994-2010 and currently; Advisory Board of African American Heath Center of St. Joseph/ Candler Health System; Board of Directors American Diabetes Association of Savannah from 1996-1998; Board of Directors of Coastal Children Advocacy Center Inc. 1994-5; Union Mission Society from 1997-2000; Advisory Board of Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum from 2001-2002; and the Savannah Area Health Collaborative from 2005-2008.

Judge Bass also served as an adviser to the Male Initiative and the Fatherhood Programs of the Equal Opportunity Authority of Savannah Inc. from 1993-1998; Project Alpha and Megagenesis Programs of Beta Phi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity from 1985-present, the Young Men of Honor Program of Spencer Elementary School from 2013 to the present, the Youth Leadership Academy, and the Court’s in Session programs of the 100 Black Men of Savannah from 2015-present and Board of Trustees for St. Joseph/Candler Hospital System from 2012 to the present.

After earning a bachelor's degree, cum laude with honors, in history from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey in 1972, Judge Bass went on to earn a Doctor of Jurisprudence from the College of Law, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 1977.

Judge Bass received the Reginald Huber Smith Fellowship in Community Service Law Award in 1977 and was named Man of the Year by the Beta Phi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity in 1995. He was also the recipient of the Robbie E. Robinson Award by the Savannah Bar Association in 1991, the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service by the State Bar of Georgia in 2008, Special Recognition Award by Safe Shelter of Savannah in 2010, W.W. Law Legacy Award from the King-Tisdale Cottage Foundation in 2011, the Champion of Justice Award from the Georgia Legal Services Program in 2016 and 2018, the Lifetime Achievement Award of 100 Black Men of Savannah in 2018, the Savannah Technical College Foundation Community Star Award in 2018, Recognition of Support of Summer Bonanza Partnership, Inc. in 2018, and the Star Award from Council of Accountability Court Judges in 2018.

Currently, Judge Bass is a member of 100 Black Men of Savannah, a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. , Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Inc., and the Frogs Inc. of Savannah. Judge Bass is married to Janice Green Bass and has a son James III, daughter in law Jennifer, granddaughter Riley and grandson Aaron.