COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A major shakeup in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit bench came down this afternoon.
Gov. Brian Kemp elevated Superior Court Judge Ben Land to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Land fills a spot vacated by Judge Andrew Pinson, who was appointed to the state Supreme Court.
Kemp then appointed Muscogee County State Court Judge Ben Richardson and Columbus attorney John Martin to the Superior Court bench in the six-county circuit that includes Muscogee.
They are filling spots vacated by Land and Judge Bill Rumer, who retired in September.
Land is the younger brother of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land, who has been on the federal bench for two decades.
“I love the State of Georgia and the justice system, and I am honored to be given the opportunity to serve in this new role,” Ben Land told News 3 in a text statement. “It is an awesome responsibility that I do not take lightly. The people of Georgia deserve judges who are committed to the rule of law and the delivery of justice to all who come before them. That is what I intend to do every day that I am privileged to serve.”
The Court of Appeals has been in existence for more than a century, and Land is believed to be the first Columbus judge to serve on that court. He is expected to assume his new job in July.
Richardson’s promotion leaves a vacancy on the State Court bench, that will also be filled by Kemp.
The governor also has not appointed a Chattahoochee District Attorney. Mark Jones was removed from office after pleading guilty to multiple felonies while in office. The plea came near the end of a November trial in which the jury told the judge they had already returned guilty verdicts on some of the nine charges.
Here was the social media reaction from Cheif Superior Court Judge Gil McBride to the governor’s appointments.
“Justice Stirling Price Gilbert, born in 1862, was the last jurist from the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit to sit on one of Georgia’s appellate courts, so it’s great to see Judge Ben Land’s hard work recognized in this way,” McBride posted to Facebook “His honor is our honor—and our loss. We will miss our friend and colleague. Judge Richardson is a man with whom we’ve treasured working for many years. It will be a pleasure to work with him on a daily basis. John Martin will be a great asset to our bench, carrying on a family legacy of public service. This is a good day.”
Martin is the son of late Columbus Mayor Frank Martin, who was also a prominent attorney.