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The Judiciary

A Look at the 2018
Judicial Races in Georgia

Georgia voters elect judges on Tuesday, May 22. Note: This is not a primary. If any one candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she is elected a judge. If no one clears 50 percent, there are runoff elections on July 24, between the two top finishers. 

Judicial elections are important. Judges keep their seats in Georgia for a four or six-year term. Incumbents are rarely unseated when re-elections occur. 

While the races are nonpartisan, judges are human and their beliefs and ideology can influence their decisions on how laws are interpreted. Examples of this can be found in the news accounts of immigratoin and gerrymandering decisions in recent memory. 

Superior and State Court judges have a daily influence on criminal justice reform and sentencing standards. 

Statewide Judicial Races

Every Georgia voter elects these judges

  • Georgia Supreme Court: There are five seats up for election but none are contested.
  • Georgia Intermediate Appellate Court: There are seven seats up for election but only one is contested this year.

“Ellington” Seat: There is no incumbent

  • Ken Hodges, kenhodges.com: Ken Hodges was a practicing district attorney who previously ran for attorney general as a Democrat. There were allegations of prosecutorial misconduct by one suspect but the courts ultimately ruled Hodges could not be sued civilly and no criminal charges or actions by the Georgia Bar were undertaken. He won an award from the Georgia Bar Association for promoting workplace equality.

Superior Court Judges

There are 202 judges on the Georgia Superior Courts, each chosen by the people in nonpartisan elections to serve a four-year term. Superior Court has exclusive jurisdiction over trials in felony cases, divorce, equity, and cases pertaining to land. 

There are eleven contested seats in 2018. Voters in Fulton, DeKalb and Gwinnett counties all have Superior Court races. The Athens (Clarke and Oconee counties) area has two competitive judicial race. 

JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, ATLANTA (Fulton County) 

  • Kevin M. Farmer, farmerforjudge.com: Kevin Farmer is an assistant district attorney in Clayton County. He is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and has no disciplinary record.  

JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, STONE MOUNTAIN (all of DeKalb County votes)

  • Latisha Dear-Jackson, latishaforjudge.com: Latisha Dear-Jacskon is a municipal court judge for the city of Stone Mountain. She has served as chief judge. In 2014, Dear-Jackson was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia to serve on its Committee on Access, Fairness, Public Trust and Public Confidence Committee. She is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and has no disciplinary record. Dear-Jackson has been overturned by the Georgia Court of Appeals for a case where she gave a man who drove without a GA license [had a FL license] a year of probation and jail time. 

JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, STONE MOUNTAIN, JOHNSON

 All of DeKalb County can vote on these races. DeKalb voters have elected the incumbent in these races all but once in 35 years. 

  • Courtney Johnson (Incumbent), judgecourtneyjohnson.com: Courtney Johnson is the incumbent for this seat. Before becoming a judge she was a prosecutor in Dekalb County. She is a member in good standing with the Georgia Bar Association and hold no disciplinary record. Johnson presided over the bribery trial of former DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis. The Georgia Supreme Court overturned that conviction last year, ruling that Johnson placed restrictions on defense attorneys. In 2017, a public defender alleged that Johnson didn't to let her take a bathroom break and the public defender lost control of her bladder and urinated in the courtroom. The public defender filed a formal complaint.

    JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, GWINNETT, T. DAVIS R (9th District—Gwinnett County)

    • Tracey Mason, electtraceymason.com: Tracey Mason is a private practice attorney and professional mediator. She previously was a municipal court judge for the City of Duluth ans is interested in expanding mental health court in Gwinnett. She is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and hold no disciplinary record.

    JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, GWINNETT, TURNER (9th District—Gwinnett County)

    • Tracie H. Cason, traciecason.com: Tracie H. Cason was deputy chief assistant district attorney in Gwinnett County and has been endorsed by the Gwinnett district attorney. She was an assistant district attorney for the Dublin, Georgia, circuit prior to moving to Gwinnett. In Dublin, she helped establish the Victim Assistance Program for the circuit, as well as the Domestic Violence Task Force and the Sexual Response Team. She is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and has no disciplinary record.

    JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, WESTERN (Clarke and Oconee Counties)

    • Lisa Lott, lisalott.org: Lisa Lott was the chief assistant for the Clarke County Public Defender Office. She is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and has no disciplinary record.

      JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, WESTERN (Clarke and Oconee Counties)

      • Eric Wayne Norris, (Incumbent),
         Judgenorris.com: Eric Wayne Norris is the incumbent. He is in good standing with Georgia Bar Association and has no disciplinary record. He has been endorsed by Athens for Everyone for because of his passion for diversion programs and mental health awareness.

      JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, VANPELT (Seventh district—Chattooga, Dale, Catoosa and Walker counties)

      • Ralph Van Pelt Jr. (Incumbent)

      JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, PATAULA, BISHOP (Clay, Early, Miller, Quitman, Randolph, Seminole and Terrell counties)

      JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, ROME  (Floyd County)

      • Kay Ann Wetherington, kayann.info: Kay Ann Wetherington was an assistant district attorney in the Rome County DA’s office. She has practiced as an ADA for 19 years. 

      JUDGE OF SUPERIOR COURT, BLUE RIDGE (Cherokee County)

      State Court and Magistrate Court

      There are two competitive lower court races in Metro Atlanta. Fulton County is electing a new Chief Magistrate Judge, and Gwinnett County is electing a state court judge.

      CHIEF MAGISTRATE JUDGE (Fulton)

      • Cassandra Kirk (Incumbent),  judgecassandrakirk.com: Prior to appointment to Chief magistrate judge, Cassandra Kirk was a judge for Fulton County Juvenile Court. She was a Fulton County child attorney before serving as a judge in Juvenile Court.

      STATE COURT OF GWINNETT COUNTY

      • Ronda Colvin-Leary, rondacolvinleary.com: Ronda Colvin-Leary is a Lawrenceville attorney who has been in practice for 17 years and also serves as a prosecutor and solicitor for the city of Winder.