Coweta Superior Court Judge Jack Kirby has announced his retirement, but the process to replace him likely won’t begin until Kirby’s retirement is official.
Kirby will retire at the end of January.
The process to fill a vacancy doesn’t begin until the governor’s office receives notice from the judge that he will be leaving his post, according to Rhonda Barnes, executive legal assistant for Gov. Nathan Deal.
Lindsay Fenn, judicial administrative assistant for Kirby, said that he will be sending his resignation letter to new Gov. Brian Kemp after Kemp is sworn in. Kemp’s inauguration is Jan. 14. Fenn said there won’t be any actual action on the nomination and appointment process until the effective date of Kirby’s retirement.
Kemp will appoint a new judge to replace Kirby, and that judge will then stand for election when Kirby’s term expires.
Before the governor appoints a judge, the Judicial Nominating Commission reviews applications and then presents a recommended “short list” of candidates to the governor.
Gov. Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission is no longer active, Barnes said. “I’m sure Governor-elect Kemp will announce his JNC as quickly as possible after inauguration day,” she said.
The entire process usually takes about six weeks, Barnes said.
During the time that the post is vacant, the Coweta Judicial Circuit’s other six judges, as well as judges on “senior status” will handle the cases that would normally be assigned to the seventh judge, Fenn said. Kirby will be taking senior status and will help out with covering those cases as well, she said.
The superior courts in the five-county Coweta Judicial Circuit handle both criminal and civil cases. However, Kirby only handles civil cases because his wife, Monique, is an attorney with the Coweta District Attorney’s Office.