18 local lawyers on the list for state court judge

There are quite a few familiar names in the field of 18 attorneys seeking to be appointed to the vacant position of judge of Fayette County State Court.

The vacancy was created when Gov. Nathan Deal decided to elevate then-State Court Judge Carla Wong McMillian to a post on the Georgia Court of Appeals last month.

McMillian was appointed to that post and then won the election for a four-year term last fall.

Among the candidates are Fayetteville attorney and Peachtree City Municipal Court Judge Stephen Ott, who lost a bid to unseat McMillian last November. Also in the mix are Fayette County Solicitor Jamie Inagawa, his chief assistant Joe Myers and county magistrate judges Robert Ruppenthal and Jason B. Thompson. Inagawa is the chief prosecutor in cases that come before state court.

Other notable attorneys in the mix are former assistant district attorneys Rhonda Krueziger and Daniel Hiatt and senior assistant city attorney for the City of Atlanta Angela M. Hinton.

Also up for consideration are private practice attorneys Catherine Sanderson, who lost a race for a magistrate post against Thompson last year and Rudjard Hayes, who lost a race for district attorney against Scott Ballard in 2008.

Rounding out the list are private practice attorneys Ashley A. Adams, Rhea Johnson, Kelli Byers Hooper, Sheila L. Rambeck, Victoria Webster, Sean H. Joyner, Brian S. Bischoff, and Charles E. Gallagher.

The business in Fayette’s state court includes misdemeanor criminal cases as well as traffic cases and civil disputes along with county ordinance violations. In the interim following McMillian’s departure, the state court caseload is being handled by senior superior court judges until a successor can be named.

Whomever is selected by Deal will serve the remaining length of McMillian’s term, which expires Dec. 31, 2016. McMillian won her first re-election attempt last year and Deal elevated her to the Appeals Court judgeship not three weeks into her first full term.

McMillian herself was appointed to the position in 2010 after then-State Court Judge Fletcher Sams was promoted to a vacant judge position in Superior Court.

The field of applicants is expected to be interviewed by the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission after March 11, which subsequently will recommend a short list of up to five candidates for the governor’s consideration, according to an announcement from the commission.