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Nominations in for third high court judge
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Forsyth County News

Nominations for the new Forsyth County Superior Court judgeship are in, and the appointment process is under way.

The Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit, which includes only Forsyth County, was granted a third judge position in April when Gov. Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 356 into law.

Court officials have said the additional Superior Court judge will help relieve the increasing backlog of cases caused in part by a growing population.

The Judicial Nominating Commission accepted nominations from members of the bar and Forsyth County residents for two weeks this month. It will soon begin interviewing the candidates, said commission co-chair Randy Evans.

The applicants, who must be members of the bar, will first be vetted by the judicial qualifications commission, Evans said, and those who qualify will be scheduled for interviews in November.

The nominating commission will deliberate following the interviews and send three to five names of potential judges to the governor.

“Our job is to make sure that by the time they get to Gov. Deal that he really doesn’t have to worry about qualifications or whether or not they have the temperament or standing in the legal community to command respect,” Evans said. “His job is then just to figure out who he thinks will make a good judge for the county.”

Deal will then interview those people and appoint the new judge before the end of the year.

“We should be on track,” Evans said. “We’ve had so many. It’s been really unusual for a sitting governor to have this many appointments. We’re now approaching 40 judicial appointments [across the state].”

He said the increase is in large part due to more judges retiring, which Evans felt was due to their comfort level with Deal appointing a successor.

In Forsyth’s case, the new position was created by the state delegation due to population growth, he said.

Sitting Superior Court Judges Jeffrey Bagley and David Dickinson and the third judge will soon have a new courthouse to occupy.

The construction of the new courthouse, across from the current one, will begin in 2013, and is slated for completion in 2015.

The courthouse and jail expansion were approved as part of the recent 1-cent sales tax referendum and are estimated to cost about $100 million.