Time extended for Superior Court Judge nominations

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 19, 2013 

The nomination period for two vacant Muscogee County Superior Court judgeships has been extended for about two weeks, the Judicial Nominating Commission announced Thursday.

The initial deadline for nominations was last Monday and the commission, which will interview candidates and submit a short list to Gov. Nathan Deal, has received 19 nominations for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit openings.

The nomination period has been extended at the governor’s request to take extra steps to make sure all qualified nominees are considered, according to a release from the commission. The new nomination deadline is Oct. 3. All nominees will be sent applications and have until Oct. 24 to return those. The interviews with the JNC, originally scheduled for this month, will be conducted in November.

Judge John Allen created one of the vacancies when he announced his retirement last month. The other judgeship was created by the Georgia General Assembly, which added a seventh judge to the local bench. Allen is retiring Oct. 31 and the new judgeship is not being funded by the state until Jan. 1.

Allen sent Deal a memo earlier this month requesting the governor consider the diversity of the circuit in his decisions. The circuit is more than 40 percent black and 51 percent women, however, when Allen steps down there will be five white males in the judgeships.

One of the 19 nominees is District Attorney Julia Slater. The list also includes six assistant district attorneys in her office. Assistant district attorneys Alonza Whitaker, Wesley Lambertus, LaRae Dixon Moore, Sadhana Pandey Dailey, Jennifer Dunlap and Danielle Forte have all been nominated.

Slater said she was not surprised by the interest in the job out of her office.

“After Judge Allen retires, few of our remaining judges will have extensive criminal experience,” Slater said. “Based on the nominations it seems that attorneys inside and outside of the district attorney’s office see a need for additional meaningful criminal experience among our local judges.”

Two sitting judges are on the list — Municipal Court Judge Steven Smith and State Court Judge Maureen Gottfried. The list also includes State Court Solicitor Ben Richardson.

Local attorneys Ronald Mullins, Carter Page Schondelmayer, Donna S. Hix, Mark Wortham, Rachelle Denise Hunter, Rebecca Crowley, Raymond E. Tillery, Peter Hoffmann and Cynthia Maisano have also been nominated.

Mullins, Moore and Whitaker have previously been on short lists submitted to the governor.

The pool thus far appears diverse. There are six white females, five white males, four black females, three black males and one other ethnicity.

Nominations should be sent to Dana McGuire, 600 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 5200, Atlanta, Ga., 30308 or email dana.mcguire@troutmansanders.com.

Related stories:

Judge Allen asks Gov. Deal to consider race and gender when appointing two new judges

Judge John Allen retirement: Allen defies odds with distinguished legal career

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