The state’s Judicial Nominating Commission will interview each of the candidates after Sept. 10 and recommend up to five names to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will make the appointment.
The nominees are Tonya Boga; Frank Bradford; Eric Brewton; Tyler Browning; Roland Castellanos; Philip W. “Whit” Engle; Maria Golick; Jeffrey D. Hamby; Ann B. Harris; Judson Hill; Robert D. Leonard II; Renee Little; James Luttrell; Mazi Mazloom; Janne Y. McKamey; Grady Moore; Barry Morgan; Samuel B. Morrison; Mathew G. Nasrallah; Van Pearlberg; Roger Rozen; Juanita Stedman; Louis M. Turchiarelli; Martin E. Valbuena; Mark VanderBroek; Nathan J. Wade; and Cindi Yeager. The name Frandy St. Louis also appears on the nominee list, though there is no lawyer with that name registered with the Cobb Bar Association.
Stedman is a current judge on Cobb’s Juvenile Court, where she oversees the Family Dependency and Juvenile drug courts. That work could give her an advantage, because Gov. 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.
Boga is a past president of the Cobb Republican Women and also was appointed by Gov. Deal as director of the state Office of Child Advocate.
Brewton, Leonard and Golick are all sitting judges on Cobb’s State Court, which hears misdemeanor criminal cases and some civil cases. Elevating any of them would give the governor another appointment to fill the state court vacancy.
Castellanos, Pearlberg and Wade all were unsuccesful candidates for the Superior Court bench on July 31. Yeager was a Republican candidate for District Attorney on July 31, but lost to Vic Reynolds.
Morgan is Cobb’s current elected Solicitor General, overseeing prosecution of all criminal cases in state court. He was last elected in 2010 without opposition. He has previously indicated he would exit that office when his term ends in December 2014.
Hill is a Republican state senator from east Cobb, and Harris is a longtime prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office. Roger Rozen is the city of Marietta’s municipal judge.
Turchiarelli and Mazloom are among the nominees who handle criminal-defense work. Nasrallah is a past president of the Cobb Trial Lawyers and his specialities include personal-injury cases.
Tyler Browning practices family law in Marietta with his father, Tom.
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 reelected 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. The commission as a whole will interview the nominees before making recommendations to the governor.
Cobb’s Superior Court judges earn at least $178,963 per year. Most of their salaries are paid by the state, with a county supplement accounting for about one-third of their pay. Their state pay, which is standard for all Superior Courts regardless of circuit, is $120,252.
Cobb gives a supplement of $58,711 per year to each judge, and the chief judge receives an additional county supplement of $9,800 per year, Tom Charron, the court’s administrator, has said.