The process to select a new Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge has begun.
The vacancy was created when Judge Frank Jordan announced that he will leave the bench on Dec. 31, a year before his term expires. That has created a vacancy that will be filled with an appointment by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.
The position was posted to the Georgia State Bar website this week with deadlines set for those interested in the position.
The last time a Superior Court judge was appointed in the Chattahoochee Circuit was December 2013, when Deal appointed Ron Mullins, a partner in Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker & Ford, P.C., and State Court Judge Maureen C. Gottfried to the bench. Also a finalist, Solicitor General Benjamin S. Richardson was appointed to the State Court judgeship vacated by Gottfried.
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The vacant job will draw interest from a number of prominent local attorneys. At least six contacted by the Ledger-Enquirer this week said they had some interest in the Superior Court position, one of seven such jobs in the circuit.
Richardson, District Attorney Julia Slater, Assistant Chief District Attorney Alonza Whitaker, Juvenile Court Judge Joey Loudermilk, former assistant district attorney LaRae Moore and criminal defense attorney Stacey Jackson said they were interested in the opening.
“If the opportunity presented itself, I would certainly explore it,” Richardson said Wednesday. “I think it’s a awesome opportunity and I can see why so many people would be interested.”
Slater, a Democrat, was on the short list submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission to Deal, a Republican, in 2013.
“I would certainly like to be a Superior Court judge at some point,” Slater said on Tuesday. “I know the posting has just gone up, but I would be interested if I were nominated.”
Whitaker, Slater’s top assistant, has run unsuccessfully for the Superior Court bench twice, the last time in 2016 against Mullins.
“If I am nominated, I will complete the application,” Whitaker said on Tuesday.
Moore, who ran unsuccessfully against Judge Art Smith in 2012, made the short list in 2011 when Deal appointed Smith. She has been nominated three times. Moore is now an attorney with Page, Scrantom, Sprouse, Tucker and Ford where she practices general civil litigation.
“If nominated, I would strongly consider the opportunity,” Moore said on Tuesday.
Loudermilk, who has been on the juvenile bench working the counties outside of Columbus for more than three years, was clear that he would like to be considered for the job. He is the retired Aflac general counsel.
“It is a way to serve the community I have lived in and loved for six decades,” Loudermilk said. “I believe I bring a lot to the bench — 39 years of legal experience, including private practice, corporate/business law and as a judge in juvenile court.”
Jackson, who has run unsuccessfully for the Georgia General Assembly as a Republican, has an impressive career as a prosecutor and one of the region’s top defense attorneys. He has also been active in the local and state Republican party.
“I am definitely interested in the position, but I have not made a decision on whether or not to put my name up for consideration,” Jackson said.
At least three local attorneys have contacted Jackson to see if he wants to be nominated, Jackson said.
The deadlines are as follows:
▪ Members of the Bar may submit their own name or the names of others. Such names should be sent to the Judicial Nominating Commission by Nov. 22 by letter addressed to: Judicial Nominating Commission, c/o Dana McGuire, 600 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 5200, Atlanta, GA, 30308-2216; by fax to 404-962-6919; or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Each person nominated will be sent an application package by the commission and it must be completed and returned for receipt on or before Dec. 11 for consideration.
▪ The commission will meet to interview applicants sometime after Dec. 15. Applicants will be notified of the time for their interview. All interviews will be held at the State Bar of Georgia in downtown Atlanta.
▪ The commission will then send a short list to Deal for his consideration.
The commission is co-chaired by Atlanta attorneys J. Randolph Evans and Pete Robinson, a Columbus native who is managing partner of the Troutman Sanders LLP Atlanta office.
Jordan, 70, confirmed last month his intention to retire before the end of his term. Jordan was an attorney practicing in Talbot and surrounding counties for more than 28 years before being appointed to the Superior Court bench in July 2000 by then-governor Roy Barnes. When he leaves, he will have been on the bench more than 17 years.
The six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit covers Muscogee, Harris, Chattahochee, Taylor, Talbot and Marion counties.