Georgia appeals court seat attracts crowded field of candidates

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Three vacancies opened up this year on the busy 12-member Georgia Court of Appeals. Gov. Sonny Perdue recently appointed people to fill two of them but six candidates are competing for the third seat in Tuesday’s elections.

Five private attorneys from the metro area and a North Georgia district attorney are running to succeed Judge Edward H. Johnson, who is retiring at the end of the year. The ultimate winner will likely be decided in a runoff on Nov. 30.

Running a statewide race in a nonpartisan election for a seat on a low-profile court can be a daunting challenge, Lawrenceville attorney Mike Sheffield said. In both 2004 and 2008, Sheffield ran for open vacancies on the appeals court but lost both times, once in a runoff. He is not running this year.

“The problem is most people don’t know much about the Court of Appeals or how it affects them — but it does affect them a great deal,” Sheffield said. “Then you’re trying to get your name out there without having to spend a semi-fortune, which is not easy to do.”

In the most recent appeals court races, the amount of contributions raised or personal loans given to a campaign does not guarantee success. In 2004, lawyer Howard Mead raised $3.3 million, mostly through personal loans, and blanketed the airwaves with TV ads but lost in a runoff. Two years ago, the two candidates who initially raised the most money did not make the runoff.

This year, the candidates are:

  • James Babalola, of Atlanta, is the CEO of a real estate company.
  • Antoinette “Toni” Davis, of Marietta, specializes in civil litigation and appellate work.
  • Stan Gunter, of Blairsville, is a prosecutor in north Georgia.
  • Adrienne Hunter-Strothers, of Atlanta, specializes in family law.
  • Christopher McFadden, of Decatur, is president-elect of the Atlanta Bar Association.
  • David Schaeffer, of Atlanta, is a past president of the Atlanta Bar Association.
  • Read more about each of the candidates.

4 comments Add your comment


October 26th, 2010
10:49 pm

I only see ads for Chris McFadden. That and his beard are the reason I’m voting for him.


October 27th, 2010
11:27 am

I agree…..I’ve seen no ads for Court of Appeals or Justice Court Candidates. When I look at their web sites it gives general infro. Where do you find what these people stand for?


October 27th, 2010
1:30 pm

Chris McFadden wrote the book every lawyer uses when petitioning the Appeals Court. It’s no contest. The others are dangerously unqualified.


October 28th, 2010
2:02 am