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Nominations for Newton County judicial vacancy open through Oct. 17
Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Center
The Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Judicial Center - photo by Courtesy of Newton County

COVINGTON, Ga. — The state Judicial Nominating Commission has set an Oct. 17 deadline for nominations for the Newton County Superior Court judgeship set to become vacant after Chief Judge John Ott retires at the end of this year.

The Commission posted a notice to attorneys and the public Tuesday, Oct. 4, on its website saying it is now receiving nominations to fill the Alcovy Judicial Circuit vacancy created by Ott's planned retirement Dec. 31 after 32 years on the bench.

"You are invited to submit nominations for this vacancy. Members of the Bar may submit their own name or the names of others. The public is also invited to submit nominations," the notice stated.

Nominations are due by Oct. 17 and nominees must submit applications by Oct. 28 for the vacancy in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit which includes Newton and Walton counties, according to a notice on the Commission website.

Chairman Vincent Russo, an Atlanta attorney, said the Commission already has nine vacancies in other Georgia judicial circuits for which it needs to recommend candidates.

He said he hopes the panel can have recommendations for the Alcovy judgeship as soon as possible after the application deadline.

"We're not going to sit on it by any means," Russo said.

The Commission is an advisory board that makes recommendations to the governor who typically interviews the Commission's final choices. The governor is required to make the final decision on who will fill the role. 

In multi-county judicial circuits, Russo said the appointee must live somewhere in a circuit's geographic area. But there are "no hard and fast rules" on which part of the circuit the nominee must reside, he said.

He said the Commission often will select someone from a part of the circuit where the caseload is heaviest — rather than a pre-determined county.

"Our job is to put the best people in front of the governor regardless of (geography)," Russo said.

The governor also is not required to appoint one of the Commission's recommended applicants — though he rarely does not take its recommendation. However, he also may send the matter back to the Commission and ask it to send him a new group of nominees, Russo said.

Nominations for the Alcovy judgeship should be submitted to the Commission no later than midnight on Oct. 17.

They should be submitted by email at or by letter addressed to: Judicial Nominating Commission, c/o Vincent Russo, 500 14th Street NW., Atlanta, GA 30318.  

"Please include a current email address for anyone you nominate," the notice stated.  

Nominees must meet the qualifications and can apply by downloading the application package from the Commission’s website at The Commission must receive applications by Oct. 28. 

Applications can be emailed to, or mailed to Judicial Nominating Commission, c/o Vincent Russo, 500 14th Street, NW, Atlanta, GA 30318.  

Letters of recommendation are welcomed but should arrive by the deadline, Russo said.

Applicants selected for an interview will be notified of the date, time and location of the interview. The Commission then will select and recommend to the governor a "short list" — typically about three applicants — who were interviewed and found to be “qualified” or “well qualified” for the position, Russo said.