Gov. Nathan Deal (Photo: John Disney/ ALM) Gov. Nathan Deal (Photo: John Disney/ ALM)

After appointing more new judges than any other governor of Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal has a few more to go before his term runs out in January.

The Judicial Nominating Commission has sent the governor recommendations to fill vacancies with the Superior Court of the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit and the State Court of Henry County.

Also, Deal has yet to appoint a replacement for former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Billy Ray, now a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

The vacancy in the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit was created by the resignation of Judge Michael Murphy. The vacancy within the State Court of Henry County was created by the resignation of Judge James T. Chafin, III. The JNC announced the short lists Friday, saying the governor’s office will contact the candidates to schedule interviews.

The latest nominees are for the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit are:

  • Charles E. Morris Jr., partner, Parker and Lundy Attorneys; associate judge, Juvenile Courts of the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit
  • Mark H. Murphy, Juvenile Court judge, Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit

The latest nominees are for the Henry County State Court are:

  • Monica Dean, associate, Waldon Adelman Castilla Hiestand & Prout; judge advocate, Georgia Air National Guard
  • Sheryl Drake Freeman, senior deputy chief assistant district attorney, Clayton County District Attorney’s Office
  • Pandora E. Palmer, owner, Pandora E. Palmer P.C.

Deal has said frequently that he has had the opportunity to appoint more judges than any other governor in the history of Georgia—due in part to his expansions of both the Georgia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. He has said he looks for judges who will carry forward his criminal justice reform mission, including a commitment to accountability treatment courts to avoid prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. He also has shown a preference for younger judges with more years to serve, members of the conservative Federalist Society and Republican political allies. His last two appellate court appointees were his former legislative floor leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives and Senate.