Georgia Supreme Court

A portrait of the current Georgia Supreme Court justices hangs outside the courtroom Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016, in Atlanta. The Georgia House has approved Gov. Nathan Deal's proposal to add two justices to the state's Supreme Court. Georgia's Constitution permits up to nine justices; state law currently provides for seven justices. The measure now will be reviewed by the state Senate. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

There’s no time frame yet for when the Judicial Nominating Commission will begin advertising for two new Georgia Supreme Court justices, said Dana McGuire, administrative coordinator for the organization.

“Basically, we will advertise with the State Bar Association on our website and send out a notice,” McGuire said.

Once that occurs, there will be a 14-day nomination period.

The JNC is charged with filtering applicants for Gov. Nathan Deal, who will make appointments to the two positions.

McGuire guessed that the JNC could submit anywhere between 15 and 25 names to the governor.

Deal signed the legislation earlier this month increasing the court’s size from seven to nine under state law. Georgia’s constitution already permitted up to nine justices.

The two new appointees will serve through the end of 2018, then face an election. All justices run in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms but rarely lose

State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, sponsored the bill. An assistant said Thursday he was busy in court and could not comment.

Supporters of the bill argued that the state’s growing population requires more justices. Opponents in the legislature said Deal’s appointments would shape the court politically for years to come.

Retired Georgia Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, who lives in Rome, said the new positions — coupled with a change in which cases are assigned to the Supreme Court — should give the justices more time to deal with more important cases.

Another new law gives the Georgia Court of Appeals jurisdiction over cases involving land titles, divorces and alimony, wills and sentencing equity cases.

Deal is also expected to replace two sitting justices before the end of his final term in office. The state constitution requires justices to retire by age 75 or risk retirement benefits.

That would bring the number of his appointments to five out of nine. He appointed Justice Keith R. Blackwell in 2012.

Rome News-Tribune Managing Editor Mike Colombo contributed to this report.


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