A moment after being sworn in to the Georgia Court of Appeals on Wednesday, Judge Christian Coomer told friends, family, lawyers, legislators and new colleagues gathered at the Capitol what he hopes never to do.
“I know there are a lot of lawyers here. Don’t raise your hands. I don’t want to get you in trouble,” Coomer said. “How many of you have ever been in front of a mean judge? How many of you have been in front of an arrogant judge? How many have been in front of a sarcastic judge.”
“Those kinds of judges make you never want to go to court again,” Coomer said. “I want to show the same kind of kindness that I want to receive.”
Coomer officially resigned his position as a member of the House of Representatives upon being sworn in as a judge by Gov. Nathan Deal at about 1:40 p.m.
Deal appointed Coomer to replace Judge Charlie Bethel—now the newest justice on the Georgia Supreme Court. Both Coomer and Bethel are former legislative floor leaders for the governor: Coomer in the House and Bethel in the Senate. House Speaker David Ralston, a lawyer from Blue Ridge, introduced Coomer, saying, “We are losing one of our best,” and praising Coomer for his “courage, toughness, character and intellect.”
Coomer has served eight years as a representative from Cartersville, most recently as Republican majority whip. He has closed up his law office on West Main Street in Cartersville. He said he plans to continue his work as a JAG officer in the Air Force reserves, where he has served since 2001—just a couple of years out of the University of Georgia law school—starting with four years in active duty as a JAG. That work has included prosecution of criminal matters, administrative hearings, employment and labor disputes and representing a military hospital. As he stood at the well in the House chambers for the first time as a judge, Coomer described “the kind of judge I want to be when I grow up: kind, humble, sincere, instructive and overflowing with integrity.”
He figured that last item is the most important. “If you’re wrong, be wrong with integrity,” Coomer said. “If you’re right, be right with integrity.”
Then Coomer said thank you to all those who came and wrapped up his speech in 11 minutes.
His first official day on the new job will be Thursday.