22 attorneys apply for Chattahoochee Superior Court vacancies

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 28, 2013 

Superior Court Judge John Allen

All but one of the 23 attorneys nominated for the two vacant judgeships in the Chattahoochee Circuit have applied, according to the Judicial Nominating Commission.

The deadline to submit applications was last Thursday. The candidates will be interviewed Monday at the state bar headquarters in Atlanta.

Longtime Columbus attorney John Partin was the only one nominated who chose not to follow through with the application process.

The commission will create a short list that will be submitted to Gov. Nathan Deal, who makes the final decision. Judge John Allen created one of the vacancies when he announced his retirement in August. Allen, who has spent 20 years on the Superior Court bench and was a State Court judge prior to that, will be honored by the local bar tonight during a reception at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. Allen’s final day is Thursday.

The other judgeship — the seventh in the six-county circuit — was created by the Georgia General Assembly. The new judgeship is not being funded by the state until Jan. 1. Deal will likely make the appointments before the end of the year.

Shortly after announcing his retirement in August, Allen wrote a memo to Deal asking the governor to consider racial and gender diversity in his judicial choices. When Allen, who is black, leaves the bench, the remaining five Superior Court judges will be white men. The six-county Chattahoochee Circuit is more than 40 percent black and 51 percent women, as Allen pointed out in his memo.

The 22-person pool for the two openings is diverse. There are 12 women and 10 men, 13 whites, eight blacks and one person of Indian decent.

More than a third of the nominees — eight lawyers — come out of the district attorney’s office. District Attorney Julia Slater and assistant district attorneys Alonza Whitaker, Wesley Lambertus, LaRae Dixon Moore, Sadhana Pandey Dailey, Jennifer Dunlap, Danielle Forte and Elijah Wayne Jernigan Jr. have been nominated.

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, Cynthia Maisano, and Don Riddick have also been nominated. Former Atlanta administrative law judge Savannah Potter-Miller is on the list.

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

Related stories:

Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen to retire at end of October

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

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