In this file photo dated August 26, 2019, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold D. Melton speaks about the Georgia criminal justice system at the Augusta, Ga. Meetinghouse.Melton announced on Friday, February 12, 2021 that he is stepping down July 1. Melton said in a statement that he did not yet know what he would do next, but that he is “exploring opportunities for the next season of life that will enable me to best serve our legal community and extended family.” (Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle via AP, file)
ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton announced Friday that he will be stepping down on July 1.
Melton said in a statement that he does not yet know what he will do next, but that he is “exploring opportunities for the next season of life that will enable me to best serve our legal community and extended family.”
Melton, 54, was named the state’s highest court in 2005 by former Governor Sonny Perdue. He became chief judge in 2018.
He is leaving mid-term, and Republican Governor Brian Kemp will appoint a replacement.
Melton is currently the only African American serving on the Georgia Supreme Court.
For the past few months, Melton has been grappling with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on state courts. Every 30 days he renews a declaration of emergency that restricts which legal proceedings can be carried out in person, which leads to a backlog of cases.
Kemp praised Melton in a statement: “Georgians in every community have benefited from his unwavering commitment to the rule of law and public service, and I know he will continue to pursue those passions in the days ahead.”
Melton’s statement said the court is “well positioned to continue the high calling that clearly lies ahead. I am so peaceful and confident that justice will continue to be served”.