The commission is to recommend five finalists to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will appoint the new judge to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge James Osborne Oct. 1, according to a notice on the commission’s web site.
The commission will send an application package to each person nominated, which must be returned by Sept. 22, the notice stated. The commission then will meet to interview applicants sometime after Oct. 6 and recommend nominees the commission will call “qualified” or “well qualified” on a short list of up to five people.
Osborne reportedly was on leave last week and will not return to his judgeship following the second judicial qualifications commission inquiry of him this year.
The first inquiry followed an election controversy in March. The commission ended it after Osborne agreed to retire Dec. 31 and not seek re-election.
Ethics watchdog groups alleged he qualified for re-election and withdrew to give his daughter, Dallas attorney Elizabeth Williams, an advantage when she became the only other candidate who had qualified by the deadline. She later withdrew her candidacy, leaving the judgeship up to Deal to fill.
Osborne then recently agreed to leave office Oct. 1 rather than potentially face a formal hearing following a commission inquiry of unspecified actions by him.
Commission Chairman Robert D. Ingram wrote in a report of disposition to the Georgia Supreme Court that, “After the commission commenced an inquiry, but prior to voting to hold a formal hearing, this matter was concluded by Osborne’s retirement.”
However, an area TV news station recently reported Osborne had handled the cases of a number of defendants who used the bonding company Freedom Bail Bonds, which is owned by the husband of Osborne’s longtime secretary, Pam Cochran.
The report did not say any investigations of Osborne were planned. He did not return a call for comment.
Former Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Osborne to his Superior Court judgeship in early 2005 following the resignation of W.A. Foster III. Osborne served as an attorney with what is now Talley, Richardson and Cable law firm in Dallas before serving as Paulding district attorney.
The public can send names of nominees and their addresses by letter to Judicial Nominating Commission, c/o Dana McGuire, 600 Peachtree St. NE, Suite 5200, Atlanta, Ga., 30308-2216.
They also can be sent by fax to (404) 962-6919 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, visit www.jnc.georgia.gov.