Locals considered for new superior court judge for the Coweta Judicial Circuit

Published 5:59 pm Monday, May 6, 2019

Two names familiar to Troup County were recently announced as two of three finalists to fill a vacancy within the Superior Court of the Coweta Judicial Circuit — which serves Troup County.

Last week, the Judicial Nominating Commission announced that it had submitted its recommendations to fill a vacancy within the Superior Court of the Coweta Judicial Circuit — as well as the Macon Judicial Circuit and the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. The Coweta Judicial Circuit includes Carroll, Coweta, Heard, Meriwether and Troup counties.

The JNC’s recommendations were Nina Markette Baker, Sarah Stimac Japour and Jeffrey M. Todd.

Baker currently serves as the Troup County Solicitor-General. She has held the position since 2004, and if appointed to serve as judge, the TNC would recommend a successor for the Troup County solicitor-general’s office, which will be on the ballot again in 2020.

Baker was considered to fill a new judgeship in the circuit in 2015, when Travis Sakrison was appointed to that post. Baker and Japour were both on the short list when Judge Dustin Hightower was appointed to the Coweta Judicial Circuit.

Japour is the senior assistant district attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit, out of Heard County.

Todd is a partner at Lewis, Taylor & Todd, P.C., and he is a fixture at city council meetings for the cities of LaGrange, Hogansville and West Point, where he serves as the city attorney for all three cities.

Todd was on the short list for the judgeship when Judge Jack Kirby was appointed in 2006.

The current vacancy within the Coweta Judicial Circuit was created by the resignation of the Kirby, who celebrated his retirement from a 40-year legal career in December 2018, and his last official day in office was Jan. 31, 2019. However, he and other senior superior court judges have been filling in while the position remains open. Kirby was appointed as a Coweta Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge in 2006.

According to a press release from JNC, Gov. Brian Kemp will fill the vacancy from the recommendations provided by the JNC, and the governor’s office will contact the candidates to schedule interviews. The judge seat will be up for election in 2020.

If appointed by Kemp, Baker or Japour could potentially be the first female superior court judge for the Coweta Judicial Circuit.