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Georgia Supreme Court justices elect next chief justice

March 16, 2022 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — The justices on Georgia’s highest court have unanimously selected the next leader of the state’s judicial system.

State Supreme Court Presiding Justice Michael Boggs will take over when Chief Justice David Nahmias steps down from the court on July 17. The nine justices also unanimously chose Justice Nels Peterson to succeed Boggs as presiding justice.

Georgia chief justices are chosen by their colleagues to serve a single four-year term leading the state’s judicial branch. The chief justice speaks for the high court and the rest of the state’s judiciary and presides over oral arguments and deliberation meetings. The chief justice also chairs the Georgia Judicial Council, which makes policy for the judicial branch.

Boggs was appointed to the Supreme Court by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2016 and won election to a six-year term in 2018. He previously served on the state Court of Appeals and as a superior court judge in Waycross, where he founded that circuit’s drug court program.

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Before taking the bench, Boggs served two terms in the Georgia General Assembly. Deal appointed him to serve as a co-chair of the Georgia Criminal Justice Reform Council from 2012 to 2018. A graduate of Georgia Southern College and Mercer University School of Law, Boggs also is a member or leader of numerous other organizations having to do with the judicial branch.

Peterson also was appointed by Deal, in 2017, and won election to a six-year term in 2018. He was previously a judge on the Court of Appeals and was the first to hold the position of solicitor general in the state attorney general’s office.

Peterson also was executive counsel for former Gov. Sonny Perdue and vice chancellor for legal affairs and secretary to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia. He also clerked for current 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge William Pryor and was in private practice at King & Spalding.

He graduated from Kennesaw State University and Harvard Law School.