On Tuesday, February 20, 2024, WRDW reported that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp had appointed Columbia County Judge J. Wade Padgett to the Georgia Court of Appeals vacancy created by the removal of former Judge Christian Coomer.

The appointment comes after the Supreme Court of Georgia ordered the removal of Christian Coomer from his position as judge on the Court of Appeals of Georgia on August 16, 2023. As detailed in an article by abusivediscretion.com, Coomer faced 36 counts of improper actions relating to intentional misconduct and behavior that undermined the functioning of justice while in office. This included orchestrating promissory notes with a client without proper documentation, violating campaign finance regulations before and during his time on the Court of Appeals, and making false statements on a mortgage application.

After a hearing, the Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended Coomer’s removal in January 2023. In its decision, the Supreme Court of Georgia concluded that Coomer had exploited a vulnerable person for financial gain, repeatedly violated campaign finance rules, and undermined public trust in his ability to impartially apply the law through a pattern of noncompliance. The court determined that his continued service would damage confidence in the judicial system, making removal the appropriate sanction.

Following this vacancy, Governor Kemp appointed Judge J. Wade Padgett to the Court of Appeals on February 19, 2024. Padgett has extensive experience as a Superior Court judge, having served in both the Augusta and Columbia judicial circuits. He chairs new judge training for the Council of Superior Court Judges. Prior to his judicial career, Padgett worked as chief magistrate judge of Columbia County and maintained a private law practice.

To fill the vacancy left by Padgett’s new appointment, Governor Kemp named J. Grady Blanchard to the Superior Court position. Blanchard currently acts as chief judge for the municipal courts of Waynesboro and Louisville. He previously served as an associate judge for magistrate courts in Columbia County.

With these appointments, Governor Kemp has taken steps to fill positions vacated at the Court of Appeals and Superior Court levels in the wake of Judge Coomer’s removal due to judicial misconduct.



Source: WRDW