State Rep. Christian Coomer will take his seat as a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals at the end of the month.
Gov. Nathan Deal will administer the oath of office at a ceremony scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 — Coomer's birthday — in the House chamber at the state capitol in Atlanta. Deal appointed the Cartersville attorney to the bench to replace Justice Charlie Bethel, who was elevated to the state Supreme Court.
Coomer is unopposed for re-election to the House District 14 seat on the Nov. 6 ballot. He is expected to send an official letter of withdrawal after he takes the oath. It's too late to remove his name from the ballot, but a special election to fill the seat must be held within 60 days of his withdrawal.
The 14th district covers the northern half of Bartow County and the southeastern quarter of Floyd County.
Coomer has represented the district in the Georgia General Assembly for eight years. He served as Deal's floor leader for a number of years and was elected by House members as majority whip for the 2017-18 term.
During that time, he was also one of 11 members on the Court Reform Council, formed by Deal in 2017 to find ways to make the judicial court system and administrative hearing system operate more efficiently. One of the Council's recommendations, creation of a separate business court system to handle complex litigation, is on the November ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment.
He also sponsored the 2016 legislation that expanded the number of seats on the Georgia Supreme Court to nine from seven.
Coomer sponsored few bills during his tenure as majority whip. However, he quickly wrote and passed HB 999 in late February, following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, when 17 students and staff were killed and 17 others injured. The measure closes a loophole that made it easier for a mentally ill person to get a gun permit in Georgia than in many other states.
Before taking on the court reform and whip duties, Coomer chaired the House Transportation Committee and served on the chamber's Judiciary Non-civil, Retirement, Banks and Banking and Juvenile Justice committees.
Coomer also chaired a 2014 House study committee that was instrumental in updating the Georgia Code of Military Justice, which had not been substantially revised since it was adopted in the 1950s.
A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Coomer has served for the past 17 years in the Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps. JAG officers handle all legal matters in the military, from courtsmartial to environmental law. He served first on active duty, then as a reservist and member of the Georgia Air National Guard.
Coomer earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
He and his wife Heidi Coomer have two sons, Christian and Collin.