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11 nominated for vacant Newton County judge's seat
Judicial Center
Newton County commissioners voted to name the county Judicial Center for the late Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Tuesday night, July 7. - photo by Special to The Covington News

The agency charged with recommending top candidates to fill an open Newton County Superior Court judge's seat received 11 nominations for the job by the Thursday, July 30, deadline.

The state Judicial Nominating Commission reported it received names of attorneys, prosecutors and public defenders for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit seat left vacant by the July 1 death of Judge Horace Johnson.

The Commission invited applications from the nominees who could choose whether to apply for the job by Friday, Aug. 7, according to information from the commission. 

Nominees included:

• Jennifer Arndt, chief assistant public defender of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit; 

• John Autry, a Monroe resident and attorney with a Lawrenceville law firm; 

• Anthony Carter, chief public defender of the Alcovy Circuit; 

• Covington attorney Teri L. Doepke of The Doepke Law Firm;

• Loganville attorney Lori B. Duff, who is also a Loganville Municipal Court judge and a finalist for another vacant Superior Court judgeship earlier this year for which Layla Zon was appointed; 

• Covington attorney Hillary Edgar of the Edgar Law Firm

• Cliff Howard, deputy chief assistant district attorney in the Walton County District Attorney's office;

• Covington attorney Stephanie Lindsey of The Lindsey Firm;

• Monroe attorney R. Michael Malcom of the Preston & Malcom firm;

• Cheveda McCamy, a Covington resident and chief assistant district attorney of the Flint Judicial Circuit in McDonough.

Also nominated was Monroe attorney Jeffrey L. Foster who already was facing Covington attorney Robert Stansfield in an Aug. 11 runoff election for another Alcovy Superior Court seat being vacated by retiring Judge Eugene Benton. Foster said he was focused on the seat for which he is seeking election.

Commission officials will interview the applicants and rate them to be "qualified" or "well qualified" for the position before recommending a “short list” of finalists to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Kemp can appoint Johnson’s successor from the Commission’s list, call for more nominees or appoint his own candidate.

Johnson, a Covington resident, died July 1 after 18 years on the bench in the judicial circuit that includes Newton and Walton counties.

The open position is one of five Superior Court judge seats in the Alcovy Circuit. 

Superior Court judges preside over all criminal felony trials and have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces, among other legal matters, according to information from the Alcovy Circuit. 

The appointment will be the second in a matter of months Kemp has made to an Alcovy Circuit Superior Court judgeship after naming Zon, the former district attorney, in June. She replaced Judge Samuel Ozburn, who retired in April after 24 years on the bench.

David Clemons, editor and publisher of The Walton Tribune, contributed to this report.