Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Building (Photo: John Disney/ALM) Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Building (Photo: John Disney/ALM)

Gov. Nathan Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission released the names Tuesday of candidates who are to be interviewed for vacancies on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

The commission selected 40 candidates out of the 211 nominated before the March 16 deadline. The top choices will be invited for interviews with the commission on April 30 at the law office of Troutman Sanders, according to Pete Robinson, a partner at the firm and JNC co-chair.

Robinson and Randy Evans of Dentons, the other co-chair, said that, since trial lawyer Kenneth Shigley has qualified for the May 22 election for the Georgia Court of Appeals, he was not considered for an interview. The JNC “takes no position regarding that contested election,” the co-chairs said in an email.

Shigley’s opponent in that election is trial lawyer and former Albany district attorney Ken Hodges. They are seeking to fill an opening created by Judge John Ellington. Ellington has qualified to run unopposed for the Georgia Supreme Court to fill the seat of Justice Carol Hunstein, who plans to retire at the end of the year.

From the interviews, the JNC will prepare a shortlist to send to the governor. Deal will choose from that list to fill openings created by the departures of those President Donald Trump has nominated to the federal bench: Judge Lisa Branch has moved to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit; Judge Tripp Self has filled a job on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia; and Judge Billy Ray has been nominated for the Northern District of Georgia. Also, Judge Gary Andrews has announced he plans to retire.

The JNC has more work to do as a result of the news Tuesday that the president intends to nominate Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant for another opening on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

“We are currently making plans for the interview process for potential vacancies on the Supreme Court of Georgia,” Robinson said.

Evans sent this comment by email regarding Grant: “Justice Grant will be a great addition to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It has been rewarding to see so many of Governor Deal’s appointments move from the Georgia appellate courts to the federal courts by both Democratic and Republican Presidents. It is confirmation that we have made great progress in our judiciary and now we must continue that tradition with many more appointments in the coming weeks to the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.”

The Court of Appeals interview list consists of:

  • Neera Bahl
  • William W. Banks
  • Tangela M. Barrie
  • John Paul Boulee
  • E. Trenton Brown
  • Carolyn “Tippi” Burch
  • B. Chan Caudell
  • J Kevin Chason
  • Christian Coomer
  • Scott Crowley
  • Christopher Edwards
  • Kelly Lee Ellerbe
  • Laverne Lewis Gaskins
  • Donald W. Gillis
  • Ural Glanville
  • Elizabeth D. Gobeil
  • Stephen S. Goss
  • Julie Adams Jacobs
  • Shawn LaGrua
  • Luke A. Lantta
  • Tracy Graham Lawson
  • Joyce Gist Lewis
  • Edward D. Lukemire
  • Todd Markle
  • Esther Slater McDonald
  • Shondeana Crews Morris
  • Randy Rich
  • Emily Richardson
  • Eric Richardson
  • Russell (Rusty) W. Smith
  • Kiesha Storey
  • Jeffrey Stump
  • James C. Thornton
  • Gail Tusan
  • Chris Twyman
  • Bryan Tyson
  • Jeffrey S. Ward
  • Russell Willard
  • Stephanie D. Woodard
  • Mark Wortham.