ALBANY — Dougherty County Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Willie Lockette said in a news release that he had been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court of Georgia but has chosen not to seek the position, instead remaining in Dougherty County to “end my career where it began.”
The news release said Lockette had been nominated to fill the seat of retiring Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham, who served his final day on that court Friday after announcing his retirement earlier this year.
Gov. Brian Kemp will eventually make the appointment to fill the vacant seat.
“I am truly humbled to be considered worthy of such a lofty nomination ... however, I have decided not to seek appointment to the Supreme Court of Georgia,” Lockette said in the news release. “I would like to conclude my career of public service here in Dougherty County and southwest Georgia, where it began 46 years ago.”
Lockette did announce, though, that he plans to seek re-election to his position with Dougherty Superior Court.
“I thank the person or persons who nominated me to serve as Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and deeply appreciate your continuing encouragement and support,” Lockette said. “I have decided to seek re-election to the Superior Court of Dougherty County in 2020.”
A graduate of Fort Valley State College, Lockette earned his juris doctor degree from the University of Illinois. He was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1974, and served almost 20 years as staff and managing attorney for Georgia Legal Services in its Albany location. He was appointed to the position of associate judge of the Magistrate Court of Dougherty County, where he served for two years before becoming chief judge of that court.
Lockette was elected to a Superior Court judgeship in 1996 and has been re-elected unopposed for five consecutive four-year terms. He was named chief judge of the court in 2009.
Nominees for the Georgia Supreme Court position must fill out an application and go through an interview process with a state Judicial Nominating Committee.
That group will narrow the nominees down to a “short list” that will be presented to the governor for consideration. Kemp will then appoint one of the nominees to the Supreme Court.