“I still have some things I want to accomplish,” he said. “I enjoy the work. We’ve had a good successful run since I’ve been solicitor.”
Morgan’s move does not come as a complete surprise, seeing as how he was one of 28 people who were nominated to succeed the retiring Judge George Kreeger on the Cobb Superior Court Bench. But his name was not among those of the five finalists selected by the state’s Judicial Nominating Commission from which Gov. Nathan Deal will make the final choice.
Courthouse speculation last week was that Deal might promote one of the five State Court judges among the 28 nominees to Superior Court, then appoint Morgan to State Court to take that person’s place, thereby creating a third slot — that of solicitor general — for him to fill.
The JNC recommended State Court Judges Maria Golick and Rob Leonard, Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman, and attorney Mark VanderBroek of Atlanta firm Troutman Sanders, to Deal. If the governor were to promote Golick or Leonard, it remains conceivable that he might also insert Morgan as a State Court Judge.
MORGAN will be 60 when he runs for his fifth term in 2014. Prior to his appointment as solicitor he worked five years as chief assistant to Solicitor Ben Smith Jr., and prior to that was an assistant prosecutor for then-District Attorney Tom Charron.
Morgan was a late-comer to the law, having started his professional career as a high school band director and French horn player at North Cobb, Sprayberry and Wills high schools in Cobb.
Morgan noted that his office has handled approximately 1.5 million cases since his appointment by Gov. Zell Miller in March 1998. He says that his office does not keep track of the win/loss percentage, but that his “sense” is that the conviction rate is in excess of 90 percent.
Morgan oversees a staff of 28 attorneys. For now, he must choose a new chief assistant. The incumbent, Jessica Moss, is the new solicitor general of Cherokee State Court in Canton after 14 years with Morgan.
ELSEWHERE at the Courthouse, Senior Judge Watson White told Around Town this week that he is stepping aside from the Superior Court bench for the foreseeable future — and possibly good — due to health considerations.
“I have failing health,” said White, 91, of his re-retirement. “So I have to quit. I might go back for a day or two at a time, or I may not go back at all.”
White was working six days a month up until about two months ago.
“But I have quit that,” he said.
Georgia law provides that retired Superior Court judges can take Senior status, continuing to hear cases and make other rulings but on a less intense basis than full-time judges. In fact newly retired Judge Kreeger has said he plans to apply for senior status.
At present Cobb has four senior judges: White, Conley Ingram, Michael Stoddard and Grant Brantley, with White the senior-most.
UGA Law grad White was elected to Cobb State Court in 1968 and later to Superior Court in 1979. He served 16 years as a full-time judge, 10 of them as chief judge. He retired and took senior status in 1994, initially serving 32 weeks a year.
Some of White’s most memorable work came in his final year prior to retirement, during which he handled pre-trial motions in connection with the Fred Tokars murder trial before eventually handling the case off to Judge Jim Bodiford.
White earlier was the judge in the murder trial of Nicholas Ingram, who was sentenced to death for the 1984 murder of J.C. Sawyer in east Cobb. Ingram’s dual nationality as a British-American made him a cause célèbre in England and led the Archbishop of Canterbury, among others, to plead for Ingram’s life.
But after multiple appeals Ingram met his long-overdue fate in Georgia’s electric chair in 1995.
According to White, Ingram spat in the warden’s face when the warden asked the condemned if he had any last words.
White grew up on a farm in Douglas County and served in FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps in Oregon, then later served as a howitzer driver in Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during World War II, seeing combat in the Battle of the Bulge and elsewhere.
He and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.
EVENTS: “Cracker Queen” author Lauretta Hannon of Powder Springs will be reading from her upcoming book at 2 p.m. today at the Marietta Museum of History. Cost is just $10. And get this — she’ll also be making a big announcement that MDJ readers should find of special interest. Stay tuned! For more on today’s talk, which is sponsored by Cobb Life Magazine and the Museum, call (770) 794-5710. …
If you want to enjoy some great marching band music without having to sit through a football game to do so, today is your day and the Kennesaw Mountain High School Invitational is the place. Kicking off at 7 p.m. will be 15-minute performances by South Cobb, Archer, Peachtree Ridge, Campbell, McEachern, East Coweta, Collins Hill, Harrison, Hillgrove and Kennesaw Mountain high schools.
Admission is $8 at the gate for those ages 4 or older.
WHEN THE SCHEDULED SPEAKER for Friday’s Cobb County Republican Women’s Club meeting cancelled at the last minute, Donna Rowe, who served as an Army nurse in Vietnam, stepped in. While most of the audience of 120 people in attendance at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center cheered the announcement that Rowe would speak, county Commission Chairman Tim Lee immediately headed for the door.
That could be because he’d heard her speak before, or because he had another commitment. Or it could be because Rowe was a prominent supporter of former Chairman Bill Byrne during his nearly successful campaign against Lee this summer to get his old job back. She was also appointed to the Development Authority of Cobb County by Commissioner Bob Ott, who has often been a burr under Lee’s saddle. As an Authority member she has frequently called into question some of the incentive deals Lee’s Chamber friends have supported.
Republican women’s club President Felicity Diamond said original speaker Anita MonCrief, one of the whistleblowers in the ACORN scandal, missed her flight from Washington because she forgot to bring her wallet to the airport. Diamond said MonCrief now will speak at the Nov. 30 meeting.
MARIETTA’S Downtown 20/20 Vision Committee is now complete with Friday’s appointment of mortgage broker Carey Cox as Ward 7 City Councilman Philip Goldstein’s appointee. The group was formed at the urging of Mayor Steve Tumlin and is to examine such things as downtown tree canopies, railroad quiet zones, dumpster placement and parking. Its organizational meeting will be Oct. 1.
POLITICS: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Congressmen Phil Gingrey and Tom Price will headline a fundraiser from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 7 for Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens at the home of Carol and Kessel Stelling in Marietta. RSVP to Haley Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AS REPORTED in Friday’s MDJ, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens of east Cobb was the target during Thursday’s “celebrity” roast for the Cherokee Boys and Girls Club, which raised $80,000. Among the roasters was Cobb Chairman Tim Lee and Cobb Chamber President David Connell. All four of the roasters lamented the lack of material provided by Olens, who was a featured speaker at the Republican National Convention in what one roaster termed “near prime time.”
At one point when Lee tried to sit in the same seat with Connell, emcee Jamie Bendell of the Punchline Comedy Club quipped “Isn’t that still against the law?” referring to the Cobb Commission’s anti-gay resolution adopted back in the 1990s (and since junked).
Lee brought up the commission’s abortive decision to buy two mules (named Jack and Jill) to pull plows at Hyde Farm Park in east Cobb. The park has yet to open due to the bad economy, and the county eventually sold the mules. Lee joked to Thursday’s crowd that Olens had wanted to keep the mules as part of a “petting zoo.”