Superior Court adds ninth judge

LAWRENCEVILLE - After making it onto the short list of hopefuls for a judgeship in Gwinnett County three times over the last decade, Tom Davis was cautiously optimistic when he landed on the list again this year as one of five potential candidates.

Following an interview with Gov. Sonny Perdue at the beginning of November, Davis spent the last month in suspense. Then the deputy chief assistant district attorney got a call from the governor Wednesday morning - he'd been selected as the circuit's newly created ninth Superior Court judge.

Davis was both happy and relieved.

"I was prepared basically for any possible answer," Davis said. "I was very happy, very pleased and somewhat relieved because it had been a while since we interviewed."

Davis has worked for 17 years in District Attorney Danny Porter's office. Before that, Davis served as a U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General for 23 years, including nine years of active duty.

"I've been a public interest lawyer for 27 years, having spent a large chunk of that time as a Navy JAG," Davis said. "I've always thought you should seek positions of increased responsibility and accountability. I wanted the chance to do important work."

Davis' appointment was welcomed by his future peers on Wednesday, especially since he will help lessen their mounting caseloads, said Chief Superior Court Judge Dawson Jackson.

"He's an excellent candidate. He's been here a long time and is well known to all the judges," Jackson said. "We have a lot of work to do, and he will certainly be asked to pitch in quickly."

Although courtroom space is tight at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, Davis will be based temporarily in courtroom 3J. When the Juvenile and Recorders Courts are moved to a building currently under construction in February, Davis' chambers and courtroom will probably be moved to the first floor, Jackson said.

Davis is scheduled to be sworn in at the end of December. His job officially starts Jan. 1.

Gwinnett County may soon be have an opening for a 10th Superior Court judgeship. Rep. John Heard, R-Lawrenceville, has said he filed legislation to add another judge to the circuit. Gwinnett is ranked eighth in the state in its need for another Superior Court Judgeship, Jackson said.