Obama's Georgia Nominees are Poised for Confirmation
Rep. Johnson expresses disappointment over lack of diversity on federal bench
President Barack Obama's six federal judicial nominees in Georgia appear poised for Senate consideration after years of delay in filling seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The White House announced late Thursday that Obama had selected Northern District Chief Judge Julie Carnes for the Eleventh Circuit. The president also tapped four lawyers and judges to fill spaces on the Northern District, including one to replace Carnes, a 1992 appointee of President George H.W. Bush.
Those five nominees join Jill Pryor, a partner at Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore who was nominated by Obama for the Eleventh Circuit nearly two years ago. She was blocked by Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, but they appear to back all six nominees now.
The district court nominees are Judge Michael Boggs of the Georgia Court of Appeals, Mark Cohen of Troutman Sanders, Leigh Martin May of Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, and Judge Eleanor Ross, a DeKalb County State Court judge.
Boggs was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal in 2012 to the appeals court. Prior to that he was a Superior Court judge in Waycross, where he presided over the circuit's first felony drug court program. Boggs, who has a reputation as a conservative, also served in the state House of Representatives as a Democrat from 2000 to 2004.
Cohen, a litigation partner at Troutman Sanders, was executive counsel to Gov. Zell Miller in the late 1990s and has since been a special assistant attorney general representing various state agencies, particularly defending the state of Georgia in voting rights cases.
May, who has a complex civil litigation practice at Butler Wooten, was on a 2009 list of potential nominees submitted to the White House by a committee appointed by members of the state's Democratic congressional delegation.
Ross, a former Fulton County assistant district attorney, also was picked by Deal to be a judge. She is the only African-American among the six current nominees for federal judgeships.
Ross and Pryor declined to comment Friday on their nominations. Attempts to reach Boggs, Carnes, Cohen and May were unsuccessful.
Rep. Hank Johnson, who has been critical about the lack of racial diversity among Georgia's federal judges, released a statement Thursday expressing disappointment.