Deal will now get to make another judicial appointment in Cobb to replace Leonard.
Leonard, 38, said the governor called him just after lunch on Wednesday.
“I am just so thankful for the confidence he’s shown in me, and for the support I’ve got all along the way from others,” Leonard said.
He hopes to be sworn in to the new post before Thanksgiving, he said.
“We’re working on a swearing-in date now,” he said. “Things are piling up over there.”
In a written statement Leonard posted on Facebook, he said that he was honored just to be on the short list with the other nominees and that he has “loved my time on the State Court bench.”
“The State Court of Cobb County is a court that’s filled with outstanding judges that do a great job for this county. I will miss them. At the same time, I am very excited to join the best Superior Court in the State and get to work,” he wrote. “I will continue to run a fair and efficient courtroom for the citizens of Cobb County. I will adhere to the rule of law in my decision-making without losing my common sense and make my rulings without fear or favor to either side.”
Leonard was appointed to the State Court bench in December 2010 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.
He was one of four finalists for the Superior Court vacancy created by the September retirement of Judge George Kreeger.
According to Gov. Deal’s announcement, Leonard serves on the board of directors of the Tommy Nobis Center and the Oregon Park Baseball Association and is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta. Leonard earned bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Kentucky. He and his wife, Lauri, live in Acworth with their three children.
The other finalists recommended by the Judicial Nominating Commission were State Court Judge Maria B. Golick; Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman; and Mark S. VanderBroek, a partner at Troutman Sanders. Twenty-seven attorneys and judges were originally nominated for the seat. Cobb’s 10-judge Superior Court bench is losing its two most senior members this year. Judge Dorothy Robinson, who was elected in 1980, is retiring when her terms ends Dec. 31. Voters recently elected Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Greg Poole to succeed her.
Judge Kreeger had been on the Superior Court bench since his 1984 appointment by Gov. Joe Frank Harris. Leonard will serve out the rest of his term, through Dec. 31, 2014.
Friends will host a retirement reception for Kreeger from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday at the courthouse.
Cobb’s Superior Court judges earn $178,963 per year. Their state pay, which is standard for all Superior Courts regardless of circuit, is $120,252, and Cobb gives a supplement of $58,711 per year to each judge.