Nine candidates who have applied for a Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court judgeship will be interviewed by the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission next week in Atlanta.
Judge Frank Jordan, currently the longest serving judge in the six-county circuit that includes Muscogee County, has announced he will retire Dec. 31. The new judge, who will fill Jordan's vacant term, will be appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal off a short list created by the JNC.
The process began last month and 10 attorneys were nominated, with all but one deciding to continue the process and apply. The deadline for applications was Monday. The list includes three sitting judges and the top two prosecutors in the Muscogee County District Attorney's Office.
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Those who have applied are: Thomasville attorney Robert L Moore Jr., Assistant State Court Solicitor David Ranieri, State Court Judge Ben Richardson, Columbus attorney Benjamin Arthur Land, Juvenile Court Judge Joey M. Loudermilk, Deputy Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker, Municipal Court Judge Steven D. Smith, Muscogee County District Attorney Julia Slater, Columbus attorney Raymond E. Tillery Jr.
One of the most interesting names on the list is Land, a 50-year-old successful private practice attorney who is the younger brother of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land. Ben Land graduated from the University of Georgia with a perfect 4.0 GPA and a business finance degree in 1989. He graduated second in his University of Georgia Law School class of more than 200 in 1992.
He has been an attorney in Columbus for 25 years, practicing the entire time with Buchanan & Land LLP. He practiced with his brother until 2001 when President George W. Bush appointed Clay Land to the federal bench.
This is the first time Ben Land has sought an appointment to the bench.
"The timing is right for me to do this," Land said. "I had been asked to consider it in the past, but the timing was just not right for me personally."
In the past, Deal has considered appointments that provided the opportunity to make multiple appointments. In December 2013, Deal had two vacant Superior Court judgeship openings, appointing attorney Ron Mullins and State Court Judge Maureen Gottfried. That created a vacancy on the State Court bench that Richardson filled.