COVINGTON, Ga. — The Alcovy Circuit bench, long a model of stability, will see an overhaul after the 2020 elections.
Two of the five Superior Court judges have said they will not seek reelection. That includes Judges Samuel D. “Sammy” Ozburn of Newton County and Eugene M. Benton of Walton County.
“I have now been on the bench for 24 years after practicing law for 19 years,” Ozburn said. “I will not qualify to seek election for another term.”
Benton could not be reached for comment Thursday, as he was in trial.
All five Superior Court judge spots will be on the ballot in May 2020. Judges are elected in nonpartisan elections and chosen by voters in both Newton and Walton counties.
Chief Judge John M. Ott said this week he will be running for reelection
The current terms expire Dec. 31, 2020
District Attorney Layla Zon of Covington has said she will run for the seat now held by Ozburn.
Monroe attorney Jeffrey L. Foster, a former chief assistant district attorney and current Social Circle Municipal Court chief judge, is running for the Benton slot.
The court traditionally has kept a balance between the two counties in the circuit. It was evenly split for years until the creation of a fifth judgeship, which went to a Newton resident — then-District Attorney W. Kendall “Ken” Wynne Jr. — in 2010.
Contested judicial elections are extremely rare in the Alcovy Circuit. Four of the sitting judges reached the bench by appointment of the governor: Ott in 1990, Ozburn in 1995, Horace J. Johnson Jr. of Newton County in 2002 and Wynne in 2010.
Benton was elected without opposition in 2004 to succeed Judge Marvin Sorrells, who died earlier this year after serving as a senior judge.