Floyd County’s chief judge has made it official, he won’t be running for office again in 2020.
Judge J. Bryant Durham took up the role of chief judge when Judge Tami Colston retired in December 2018, and will pass that title on to Judge Jack Niedrach upon retirement.
“I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity. I’ve met a lot of good people and I hope I helped people when I could and hope the community is better for it,” Durham said.
He served four full terms in office and one partial term when he was appointed to the bench in 2003 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, to finish the unexpired term of Judge Robert Walther. He was elected to his first full term in 2004.
That wasn’t his first attempt at donning the black robe and gavel. His first crack at becoming a Superior Court judge ended in a second-place finish to Judge Larry Salmon in a 1988 run-off election.
He’s not going to let go of that role entirely upon retirement either. “I am going to take senior (judge) status,” Durham said. “I’ll have an opportunity to fill in around the state.”
Much of his youth was spent in Nigeria, where his parents were missionaries. He moved to Rome when he turned 15 and became a boarding student, graduating with honors in 1967.
From there, he went to Mercer University and graduated with two degrees, in history and political science. He earned his law degree at the University of Georgia in 1974.
The judge also has military experience, he said, becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1973. He was promoted to the rank of captain one day before he completed his reserve service in 1981.
His legal service began as an associate and later partner at Covington, Kilpatrick, Storey and Durham. From there, he went on to be a partner in Jones, Byington, Durham and Payne. In 2001, he moved to Cox, Byington, Corwin, Niedrach and Durham and stayed there until 2003.
He also served as Rome’s municipal judge from 1998 to 2003 and the Floyd County Probate Court administrator from 1990 to 2003.
Upon retirement he hopes to do some traveling with his wife Regina.
“Regina and I are looking forward to get some traveling done,” he said. “We both have a hankering to go to Australia.”
The qualifying period for the May 19, 2020, nonpartisan election lasts from March 2-6.