Nathan Deal stocks Georgia’s top courts with 5 new judges

Michael Boggs before being sworn into the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2012 (AJC file)

Michael Boggs before being sworn into the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2012 (AJC file)

Gov. Nathan Deal continued a transformation of the judiciary on Wednesday by tapping three new Georgia Supreme Court justices and two new Georgia Court of Appeals judges.

The governor tapped Court of Appeals Judges Michael Boggs and Nels Peterson and state Solicitor General Britt Grant to the state’s top bench. He selected state Sen. Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, and Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tripp Self III to replace them.

Deal won approval to expand the Georgia Supreme Court from seven justices to nine earlier this year, and last year he pushed an expansion of the appeals court from 12 to 15 judges. He will appoint a majority of the state’s top bench and more than a quarter of the appeals court by the end of his term.

Grant and Peterson will fill new seats created by the expansion of the court, while Boggs will succeed retiring Justice Hugh Thompson. They were his fourth appointments – he tapped Keith Blackwell to the bench in 2012.

The governor has selected more than 100 attorneys to open judgeships across the state, and he appointed economic development commissioner Chris Carr as the Attorney General in October.

For Boggs, it was a long-awaited promotion. He was nominated as part of a package of judges that Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss negotiated with the White House to fill several vacancies on the federal bench in 2014, but Democrats criticized his vote while in the state House — as a Democrat from Waycross in the early 2000s — to keep the old state flag, featuring the Confederate battle emblem.


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