The process to select three new Georgia Supreme Court justices has moved to the interview stage and two Columbus attorneys are in the pool of people under consideration.
The Judicial Nominating Commission has received 51 applications for the jobs after more than 100 people were initially nominated in the process that began in July.
State Court Judge Ben Richardson and Assistant District Attorney Wesley Lambertus have applied and will be part of the interview process at the end of the month.
The three openings for the state’s highest court came when the Georgia General Assembly created two new seats during the most recent session and Chief Justice Hugh Thompson recently announced his intention to retire in January.
Richardson was appointed to the State Court bench by Gov. Nathan Deal in December 2013 after longtime State Court Judge Maureen C. Gottfried was elevated to a Superior Court position.
Richardson, 49, was the State Court solicitor for more than 10 years and had worked in that office for nearly 20 years prior to his judicial appointment.
Several people, including Columbus real estate broker Karl Douglass, nominated Richardson for the high court. Richardson then went through the process of submitting an application and conferring with his mentor, former Musogee County Superior Court Chief Judge John Allen.
“When judicial opportunities present themselves you should consider them,” Richardson said. “That’s what I am doing. I am humbled and honored that someone would nominate me.”
Lambertus, 38, has worked his entire 13-year career as a prosecutor, first in Dougherty County, and the last 11 years in Muscogee County. He applied in 2013 when the governor appointed Gottfried and attorney Ron Mullins to the Superior Court bench and Richardson to the State Court job. He did make the short list that the Judicial Nominating Commission submitted to the governor for consideration.
“This is something that I want to do and one of my goals,” Lambertus said. “If someone thinks that I am worthy of nominating, I am not going to turn that down. I am going to go through the process.”
The Judicial Nominating Commission will make recommendations to Deal, who has the final authority in the appointments. The JNC co-chairman is Pete Robinson, a Columbus resident and managing partner of the Troutman Sanders Atlanta office. The nominating and application process is administered by Dana McGuire of Troutman Sanders.