Leading Georgia Latino judge won’t seek state Supreme Court seat

The DeKalb County jurist who was blocked from becoming Georgia’s first Latino federal judge earlier this year has withdrawn his name from one of three vacancies on the Georgia Supreme Court.

Dax Lopez, seen as a strong contender for one of the openings, said Thursday that he’s “humbled” to have been nominated but that he wants to instead focus on his role as a DeKalb State Court judge.

Dax Lopez, a DeKalb County state court judge, and his wife Zulma in 2012. (Mundo Hispanico/Miguel Martinez)

Dax Lopez, a DeKalb County state court judge, and his wife Zulma in 2012. (Mundo Hispanico/Miguel Martinez)

Lopez – who is Jewish, Republican and Hispanic – was President Barack Obama’s nominee for a U.S. District judgeship last year. His nomination was scuttled by U.S. Sen. David Perdue after anti-illegal immigration forces in Georgia pointed to Lopez’ past association with certain Latino groups.

Lopez was among 130 attorneys nominated for the open spots – two created by legislation that boosts the court from seven justices to nine and a third left open by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson’s decision to retire in January. Several other possible contenders have also dropped out of the running, including Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Dillard.

With the three new openings, Gov. Nathan Deal has the chance to appoint a majority of the court’s bench before he leaves office in January 2019. He has already made one appointment – Keith Blackwell was tapped in June 2012 – and Presiding Justice Harris Hines also said he plans to retire before Deal’s tenure is up.

Here’s Lopez’s full statement:

Recently, someone was nice enough to submit my name for consideration for one of the open spots on the Georgia Supreme Court. While I am truly honored and humbled that someone would think me worthy enough for such an important position, I have decided not to submit an application. While it would be a great honor to serve on the highest court in Georgia, I enjoy being a trial judge and I love serving the people of DeKalb County. There are many excellent candidates seeking these posts, and I am confident that the three individuals chosen will serve the people of Georgia with honor and distinction.


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