Columbus Superior Court judge makes shortlist for Court of Appeals

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A Columbus Superior Court judge has made the shortlist submitted to Gov. Brian Kemp to fill a vacancy on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Judge Ben Land, who was appointed to the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit bench, less than two years ago is one of five people will consider for the job. 

“It is my privilege to serve the citizens of our Circuit as Superior Court judge, and I look forward to continuing to serve them either in Superior Court or on the statewide Court of Appeals,” Land said on Tuesday night now long after the list was released. “The Court of Appeals does a lot of great work for our entire state, and I am honored to be considered for this important position.  I look forward to speaking with the governor about what I may be able to contribute to the work performed by that Court on behalf of all Georgians.”

Land was an accomplished private practice attorney who was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in January 2018. The vacancy was created earlier this year when Judge  Stephen S. Goss of Albany died.

The following names were submitted to Governor Kemp:

The Judicial Nominating Commission submitted Land the following attorneys for consideration by the governor: 

— Christopher S. Brasher – Superior Court Judge, Atlanta Judicial Circuit

— Carolyn “Tippi” Cain Burch – Assistant United States Attorney, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia

— John A. “Trea” Pipkin III – Superior Court Judge, Flint Judicial Circuit

— Tabitha Ponder Beckford – staff attorney, Access to Justice Committee with Administrative Offices of the Courts; managing partner, The Ponder Law Group, LLC

— Paige Reese Whitaker – Superior Court Judge, Atlanta Judicial Circuit

Though Land has not been on the Superior Court bench long, he has pushed for the District Attorney’s Office to bring cases to trial in a more speedy manner.

In January, Land reduced the bond of a man facing a sex crime charge after sitting in the Muscogee County Jail more than 1,370 days awaiting indictment.

In his order cutting Stanley Andrews’ $16,600 bond in half, Land wrote that long-term incarceration without indictment or a trial date “simply cannot be tolerated in a free society.”

And Land did not stop there.

“When an individual is locked up by our government for years with no formal criminal charge being asserted, justice is compromised and public trust is eroded,” Land wrote. “This is not what our Constitution contemplates and not the way our system is supposed to work.”

Land is the younger brother of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.

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