Gov. Nathan Deal will pick a new Court of Appeals judge from two short lists he received this year from his Judicial Nominating Commission, JNC chairman Pete Robinson said Tuesday.
The vacancy was created when the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Billy Ray for a federal court seat.
The JNC provided short lists for open seats on the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. The remaining candidates on those lists include: W. Wright Banks, deputy attorney general in the Georgia Department of Law; state Senate Majority Leader William S. Cowsert of Cowsert & Heath in Athens; Judge Melanie B. Cross of the Tifton Judicial Circuit; Judge Asha F. Jackson of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit; Judge Ural Glanville of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit; Judge C. LaTain Kell Sr. of the Cobb Judicial Circuit; Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit; Joyce Gist Lewis of Shingler Lewis in Atlanta; Judge Todd Markle of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit; Emily K. Richardson, assistant district attorney in the Douglas Judicial Circuit; James C. Thornton of Thornton & Graham in LaGrange; Judge Gail S. Tusan of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit; Christopher P. Twyman of Cox, Byington, Twyman & Johnson in Rome; state Rep. Andrew J. Welch III, R-McDonough, of Smith, Welch, Webb & White; and Judge Paige Reese Whitaker of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.
Deal has chosen 20 jurists for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals since he became governor nearly eight years ago. Ray’s seat could be the last one he fills.
Diversity advocates have criticized Deal because, of his 20 picks for the state’s top two courts, 18 were white and 14 were men. As a result, African-Americans and women on the Supreme Court stand to have less influence when Deal leaves office than when he arrived in 2011.
At the Court of Appeals, Deal’s appointments will have reduced the representation of African-Americans but increased the number of women.