Cartersville attorney Jeff Watkins admitted some probably aspire to become a judge from the day they start practicing law.
“I would say, more recently in my career, I thought about it,” said the 26-year legal veteran.
Watkins, a Cartersville native, is set to become one of four Superior Court judges in the Cherokee Judicial Circuit after Gov. Brian Kemp recently announced he will appoint Watkins to a vacant judgeship.
He said he will serve the rest of the late Carey Nelson’s term and stand as an incumbent Superior Court judge in the 2020 election in the judicial circuit that includes Bartow and Gordon counties.
Nelson died in March after serving as Superior Court judge for almost 18 years.
The new judge’s appointment is effective once he is sworn into office, the governor’s office stated in a news release.
Kemp chose Watkins over District Attorney Rosemary M. Greene and Chief Circuit Public Defender Christopher G. Paul after the state Judicial Nominating Commission recommended the three as finalists for the position.
The governor said Watkins “throughout the years … has proven himself to be a top-notch attorney in his field of expertise, and I know that he will work tirelessly to ensure fairness, impartiality and justice in his new role.
“Among his peers, Jeff is well-respected not only for his legal work, but also for his professionalism and commitment to important, local initiatives,” Kemp said.
“In the years ahead, I am confident that he will excel in the courtroom, bolstered by the strong support of his community,” he said.
Watkins said his new job is “very exciting” and the appointment “a great honor.”
“I look forward to it,” he said.
He said he saw similarities between practicing law and serving as a judge.
“Practicing law (and being a judge) can be challenging and rewarding at times,” he said.
Watkins said he will split his time between hearing cases in Cartersville and Calhoun.
He said he was glad he could “continue to serve this community” in the new role after working as an attorney in Bartow County for part or all of three decades.
“The community’s been good to me and my family,” Watkins said.
He is a member of the Bartow Rotary Club, Cartersville-Bartow County Bar Association, Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Georgia Highlands College Foundation.
A graduate of UGA and Mercer University College of Law, Watkins began his legal career as an associate for Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele in Marietta in the litigation and insurance defense department, according to information on his firm’s website.
He was a founding member of White, Choate, Watkins & Mroczko LLC and practiced with the firm from 1998 to mid-2014; and was a senior associate at Moore, Ingram, Johnson & Steele, practicing in the areas of insurance defense, workers’ compensation, and general civil and commercial litigation.
Watkins founded his own firm, Jeffrey A. Watkins P.C., in Cartersville in 2014, specializing in business law, civil and commercial litigation, real estate and probate law, and zoning and land use.