By Gabriel Khouli
Alcovy Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn is one step closer to becoming a Georgia Supreme Court Justice, after he beat out 29 other candidates to become one of nine finalists. The Governor’s Office released its short list Wednesday after the Judicial Nominating Commission finished interviewing the original 38 finalists.
“I’m honored. I think this is a very important position and a lot of very qualified people are on the list,” Ozburn said. “I just look forward to meeting with the Governor and spending time with him to answer any questions he may have. I’m honored, but very humbled. I’ll see what the next step is and go from there.”
An interview with Perdue and his advisers will be the final step in a long process. Ozburn was required to fill out a 35-item questionnaire of past experiences and qualifications; his responses ended up totaling 115 pages and he said the process took him about a month. He was then questioned by the JNC, which queried him about his questionnaire responses and other experiences.
Ozburn said he didn’t know of an official deadline to fill the vacant justice position, but he said a decision is likely to be made in July. The vacancy was created by Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears who resigned in June.
Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle), who originally nominated Ozburn for the Supreme Court, said he was excited to see Ozburn among the finalists.
"I am delighted that Judge Sammy Ozburn has made the initial cut from approximately 50 nominees to nine for the open Georgia Supreme Court seat," Douglas said. "I call on Gov. Sonny Perdue to select him as soon as possible for the vacancy so that Judge Ozburn can bring the same wisdom, expertise and common sense to our highest state court as he as done for many years in the Alcovy Circuit. The citizens of Georgia will be the winner with Sammy Ozburn on the state Supreme Court."
In a press release Gov. Sonny Perdue said he was looking forward to meeting with each of the final nominees.
The JNC submitted the following recommendations to fill the vacancy (listed in alphabetical order):
- Stephen Louis A. Dillard - Of Counsel, James, Bates, Pope & Spivey; Macon
- James P. Kelly III - Managing partner of Kelly Law Firm; Atlanta
- David E. Nahmias - U.S. Attorney; Northern District of Georgia
- Samuel D. Ozburn -Superior Court Judge; Alcovy Judicial Circuit
- William M. Ray II - Superior Court Judge; Gwinnett County
- Craig L. Schwall Sr. - Superior Court Judge; Fulton County
- Mary E. Staley - Superior Court Judge; Cobb County
- Benjamin W. Studdard III - State Court Chief Judge; Henry County
- Rocco E. Testani - Partner, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan; Atlanta