ATLANTA, Ga. (WRBL) — For the second time in a week, Gov. Brian Kemp was swearing in judges that will alter the Columbus judicial landscape.
It has been a year of transition in the Muscogee County and Chattahoochee judiciary and it continued Wednesday afternoon.
Kemp swore in State Court Judge Ben Richardson as the newest Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge. Moments later in a separate ceremony, the governor swore in attorney Pete Temesgen to replace Richardson on the Muscogee County State Court bench.
Both ceremonies were done in the governor’s office.
Richardson replaces Judge Ben Land. Richardson and Land were in the same University of Georgia School of Law graduating class.
A week ago, Land was elevated by the governor to the state Court of Appeals. Richardson becomes the first African American judge on the seven-judge Chattahoochee Circuit bench since 2014. That’s when Judge John Allen retired.
Richardson, who served eight years on the State Court bench, credits Allen with helping him achieve this milestone.
“… Judge Allen was the first one who told me I could be a judge,” Richardson said. “I never believed it. But he saw something in me. And he guided me. And I watched him. And his shoes can never be filled. But I appreciate the left footprints for me to follow … as I blaze my own path.”
Richardson is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Georgia School of Law.
Temesgen has lived and practiced in Columbus for about 10 years. Most recently, he has been in private practice. Prior to that, he was a prosecutor in the Muscogee County District Attorney’s office.
He joked with Kemp after the governor swore him in.
“Governor, thank you so much for appointing me. You actually called me on April Fool’s Day,” he said.
To which the governor responded, emp: “Oh, man.”
“I asked myself if this is a real call,” Temesgen said. “But it was one of the best days of my life.”
Temesgen received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He earned his law degree from Boston University.
In March, John Martin was sworn in as a Superior Court judge by Kemp. He replaced Judge William Rumer, who retired last year.