The Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission has handed Gov. Nathan Deal a short list for the vacant Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court judgeship that includes two judges, the district attorney and a prominent local lawyer.
The list was announced last month and includes State Court Judge Ben Richardson, Juvenile Court and retired Aflac general counsel Joey Loudermilk, Chattahoochee Circuit District Attorney Julia Slater and Ben Land, a partner with Buchanan & Land LLP and the younger brother of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.
The four finalists, who came from nine applicants, will be interviewed by Deal at an yet to be determined time. From there, the governor will appoint someone to fill the vacancy that was created when Judge Frank Jordan retired at the end of last year.
The nine attorneys who applied for the job were interviewed by the JNC the week before Christmas in Atlanta. The commission is co-chaired by Atlanta attorney J. Randolph Evans and Pete Robinson, a Columbus resident who is managing partner of the Troutman Sanders LLP Atlanta office.
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Those who have applied are: Thomasville attorney Robert L Moore Jr., Assistant State Court Solicitor David Ranieri, Deputy Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker, Municipal Court Judge Steven D. Smith, Columbus attorney Raymond E. Tillery Jr., Richardson, Loudermilk, Land and Slater.
Richardson was appointed to the State Court bench by Deal in late 2013, the last time the governor made appointments to the local bench. There were two vacant Superior Court judgeship openings, and Deal appointed attorney Ron Mullins and State Court Judge Maureen Gottfried. That created a vacancy on the State Court bench that Richardson filled.
Slater, an elected Democrat, was also on the short list during that round of appointments by the Republican governor.
Loudermilk, who has been on the juvenile bench working the counties outside of Columbus for more than three years, spent much of his career as Aflac’s in-house legal counsel.
Land, 50, has been in private practice in Columbus for 25 years, starting at his brother’s firm before Clay Land was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2001.
The six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit covers Muscogee, Harris, Chattahochee, Taylor, Talbot and Marion counties.