For The Record

Kemp names Verda Colvin to fill Georgia Supreme Court seat

By: - July 20, 2021 4:27 pm

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Tuesday Georgia Court of Appeals Court Judge Verda Colvin to the serve on the state Supreme Court. Appeals Court of Georgia

Gov. Brian Kemp picked a Georgia Court of Appeals judge to become his newest appointee to the state Supreme Court, making Verda Colvin the second Black woman to serve on the state’s highest court.

The Republican governor announced Tuesday that Colvin will fill the vacancy of the former Chief Justice Harold Melton, whose departure early this month briefly left the Supreme Court bench without a Black justice for the first time since 1989.

It is an honor to appoint such an experienced and accomplished justice to our state's Supreme Court.

– Gov. Brian Kemp

Just 15 months after Kemp selected Colvin to join the court of appeals, he promoted her to the Supreme Court from among six finalists.

Former Justice Leah Ward Sears, who served from 1992 to 2005, was the first Black woman to serve on Georgia’s Supreme Court.

“It is an honor to appoint such an experienced and accomplished justice to our state’s Supreme Court,” Kemp said in a statement Tuesday. “With Justice Colvin on the bench, Georgia’s highest court is gaining an immensely talented and principled judge who will help guide it in the years to come.”

After spending 15 years as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Colvin to Macon’s Superior Court in 2014.

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Tuesday Georgia Court of Appeals Court Judge Verda Colvin to the serve on the state Supreme Court. Appeals Court of Georgia

During her tenure as a judge in Macon, Colvin gained widespread attention for her lectures to young people who had been in legal trouble, including an emotional 2016 speech that went viral as she encouraged them to stay out of trouble or run the risk of deadly consequences.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice David Nahmias welcomed Colvin’s arrival on the Supreme Court bench. Nahmias officially took over as the leader of the court after Melton stepped down on July 1.

“Given her background and experience, including many years as a Court of Appeals and trial court judge, we are confident that she is eminently qualified to serve on the state’s highest court,” Nahmias said.

Colvin’s appointment is one of six judicial selections announced by Kemp on Tuesday, including Andrew Pinson, the Solicitor General in the Attorney General’s office, to fill Colvin’s seat on the appeals court. 

Kemp also named Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton as a judge in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit.

Colvin becomes the third justice that Kemp has picked for the state Supreme Court, the state’s court of last resort, which decides cases as serious as upholding a death penalty conviction and whether the government can forcefully take ownership of private property. 

Kemp’s previous two appointments were also women. In March 2020, former state Appeals Court Judge Carla Wong McMillian became the first Asian American woman in the Southeast to serve on a state Supreme Court. Former Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua joined in January. 

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. At The (Macon) Telegraph he told readers about Macon-Bibb County’s challenges implementing its recent consolidation, with a focus on ways the state Legislature determines the fate of local communities. He used open records requests to break a story of a $400 million pension sweetheart deal a county manager steered to a friendly consultant. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting for his story on the death of Gregg Allman and best beat reporting for explanatory articles on the 2018 Macon-Bibb County budget deliberations. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo, which became a sensational murder case that generated national headlines.

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