Longtime Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Allen has informed Gov. Nathan Deal that he intends to retire on Oct. 31, Allen said today,
Allen, 70, has been on the Superior Court bench since 1993. Prior to that he was a Recorder's Court and State Court judge.
"Put a fork in me," Allen joked.
Allen's departure opens up a judgeship, which will be appointed by Deal. There are currently six Superior Court judges serving the six-county Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. The Georgia General Assembly this year approved a seventh judgeship that will be funded beginning Jan. 1. Allen's departure leaves the governor with two appointments before the end of the year.
Allen, the only black judge on the all-male bench, has no say in his replacement, but that does not mean he doesn't have an opinion.
"It is my hope that the governor will make the bench as diverse as the population it represents," Allen said. "I am not talking about percentage point for percentage point. What I am saying is an all white male judiciary is not reflective of the people in this district. Justice has a face, and that face should be reflective of the judiciary it serves."
Allen said he will take senior judge status and work in circuits throughout the state if called. He and his wife, Victoria, plan to travel in his retirement, he said.
In addition to being the chief judge in the Chattahoochee Judicial circuit, Allen has been the chairman of the Judicial Qualifications Commission, a statewide panel that investigates alleged misconduct by the state's judges. Monday is his final day on the commission.
Allen grew up in the Booker T. Washington public housing complex, graduating from segregated Spencer High School in 1961. He earned his undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University in 1966. An ROTC student, Allen went into the Air Force, where he served two tours in Southeast Asia, including nearly 300 missions as a fighter pilot.
He graduated from the University of Florida law school and returned to Columbus to practice in 1976.