Gov. Nathan Deal
Gov. Nathan Deal (John Disney/Staff)

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday appointed three lawyers to Superior Court judgeships: Mary Beth Priest and John Worcester to the Superior Court of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Eric Norris to the Superior Court of the Western Judicial Circuit. Deal also appointed Tammi Long Hayward to a State Court judgeship in Clayton County.

The two seats filled by Priest and Worcester were vacated by Deal’s elevation of Judge Amanda Mercier to the Georgia Court of Appeals bench and the resignation of Judge Roger Bradley.

According to a statement from Deal’s office, Priest earned her law degree at Georgia State University College of Law and is an associate for Clark & Clark in Ellijay. Worcester attended the Atlanta Law School and is a chief juvenile court judge in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit.

Norris was appointed to fill a Superior Court seat created by last year’s House Bill 279, which expanded the Superior Court of the Western Judicial Circuit from three to four judges, along with increasing the state Court of Appeals from 12 to 15 seats and bolstering salaries for judgeships.

Norris serves as a judge in the Oconee County Magistrate Court in addition to his work as a family law solo in Watkinsville. He earned his law degree from Regent University.

Hayward was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of State Court Judge Morris Braswell. Hayward, an associate magistrate judge in Clayton County and an alumna of Emory University School of Law, had qualified to run against Leslie Miller Terry and Robert Mack for the Superior Court seat currently held by Judge Deborah Benefield.