On Monday, the Judicial Nominating Commission recommended Gov. Nathan Deal choose from Cobb State Court Judges Maria B. Golick and Robert D. Leonard II, Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman; and Mark S. VanderBroek, a partner in the Atlanta firm of Troutman Sanders, to replace Kreeger.
The governor’s office will now interview the four candidates, and Deal will appoint one of the four.
Twenty-seven attorneys and judges were originally nominated for the seat, and the JNC did a first round of interviews.
Stedman oversees the Family Dependency and Juvenile drug courts. That work could give her an advantage, because Deal has emphasized the need for more drug courts as one way to save the costs of locking up non-violent offenders. Kreeger himself runs Cobb’s adult drug court.
Golick and Leonard are currently judges on Cobb’s State Court, which hears misdemeanor criminal cases and some civil cases. Maria Golick is married to state Rep. Rich Golick, a Smyrna Republican. 7
Elevating either of them would give the governor another appointment to fill the state court vacancy.
VanderBroek earned a law degree from the University of Chicago, and many of his cases involve intellectual property disputes and the franchise industry, according to his biography on the law firm’s website. He is a member of Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church.
Cobb’s 10-judge Superior Court bench is losing its two most senior members this year. Judge Dorothy Robinson, who was elected in 1980, is retiring when her terms ends Dec. 31. Voters recently elected Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Greg Poole to succeed her.
Judge Kreeger was appointed in 1984 by Gov. Joe Frank Harris. Kreeger was last re-elected to the seat in 2010, and his successor will serve out the rest of his term, through Dec. 31, 2014.
Come January, Judge Mary Staley will be the longest-serving sitting judge on Cobb’s Superior Court. She was first elected to the seat in 1992.
The Judicial Nominating Commission is made up of 20 lawyers and is co-chaired by Randy Evans, of McKenna Long & Aldridge, and Pete Robinson, of Troutman Sanders Strategies. Attorney General Sam Olens is among the members.