On the final day of the 2020 legislative session, state lawmakers in the house agreed to the senate substitute to HB 786 paving the way for a fourth Superior Court judge in Henry County. The bill now proceeds to the Governorâ€™s desk for consideration.
Discussion about adding a fourth Superior Court judge dates back over a decade, but previous attempts have fallen short. The decision to add additional judgeships is based on case load and is accompanied by a recommendation from the Judicial Council of Georgia.
The 2020 legislative session was suspended in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic before lawmakers returned in mid-June for a fast-paced sprint to the finish. After their return, the state senate modified HB 786 to combine three requests for new Superior Court judges, including one each in the Cobb Circuit, Flint Circuit, and Ogeechee Circuit. The state house agreed to the senate substitute on Friday, June 26.
If approved by the governor, the new judge would be appointed by Governor Kemp and begin their term on January 1, 2022. This is a change from previous iterations of the bill presumably to avoid state budget impacts during FY 2021. Voters would first elect the seat in 2024.
The potential judgeship would create Kempâ€™s second appointment to the Henry County Superior Court. An existing vacancy on the bench was created when the governor appointed Judge Trea Pipkin to the state court of appeals in March. A successor has not yet been announced.