Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Ben Coker

Marie G. Broder
Governor Kemp Makes Superior Court Appointment to the Griffin Judicial Circuit
By Editor Becky Watts

ATLANTA - HB 28 was passed last year in the Georgia Legislature. This will resulted in the appointment of a 5th Superior Court judge to the Griffin Judicial Circuit that is comprised of Pike, Spalding, Upson, and Fayette Counties. Click here to read it.

According to the legislation, the 5th judge was to be appointed for a two year term beginning January 1, 2020 and holding this term until December 31, 2022. In 2022, a non-partisan judicial election will be held for a full four year term of office for this office.

Last week, a press release from Governor Brian P. Kemp announced his selection of Benjamin D. Coker to fill a vacancy on the Griffin Judicial Circuit Superior Court and Marie G. Broder to serve as the new Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

“Benjamin D. Coker holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, Risk Management, and Insurance from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the Georgia State University College of Law. Prior to his appointment, he served as an associate attorney and assistant district attorney, and he currently serves as District Attorney of the Griffin Judicial Circuit. Coker is a member of the Thomaston Bar Association, Spalding County Bar Association, Fayette County Bar Association, and he is a board member for Promise Place, a domestic violence prevention agency. He and his wife, Christy, reside in Thomaston with their children.

Marie G. Broder received bachelor's degrees in Speech Communication and Public Relations and a law degree from the University of Georgia. She has served as a law clerk and associate, assistant district attorney, and office manager, and she currently serves as Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit. Broder is a member of the Federalist Society, Georgia Cattlemen's Association, Georgia Bar Association, Phi Beta Kappa, Daughters of the American Revolution, Spalding County Bar Association, Fayette County Bar Association, Upson County Bar Association, and Georgia Association of Women Lawyers. She and her husband, Karl, reside in Griffin with their daughter.”

[Note from the Editor: Congratulations to Ben and Marie on these appointments!]

This leaves only one Superior Court Judge position open at this time where there were two with the creation of the 5th Superior Court Judge position on January 1, 2020. Earlier this month, former Judge Mack Crawford entered a plea deal with the state of Georgia and resigned from his position as the 4th judge of the Griffin Judicial Circuit. You can read this article by clicking here. Judge Crawford’s resignation is effective on March 1, 2020.

So what happens now that we have a 5th judge? Does the circuit go without the 4th judge after March 1, 2020 until the election confirms the winner? Can (or will) Governor Kemp appoint someone to fill that spot? And when is Ben Coker’s swearing-in ceremony?

Candice L. Broce, Director of Communications & Chief Deputy Executive Counsel for the Office of Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp, has been gracious to answer Pike County Times’ questions on these and other matters. Here are the answers that Pike County Times has been able to confirm so far.

“We are working on scheduling Ben Coker’s swearing-in ceremony now,” she said. “We don’t have an official date identified yet.” Pike County Times will notify readers when this is announced as well as his first day on the job.

Update 2.18.20: Ben Coker advised that his swearing in ceremony will be on March 5, 2020 at 1 p.m. in the North Wing of the Capital.

As far as Judge Crawford’s seat is concerned, this is what Pike County Times was able to confirm. “Judge Crawford’s resignation is effective on March 1, 2020. I don’t have additional details to share at this time aside from pointing out that, come March 1, the Governor will be authorized to make an appointment to fill the vacancy if he wishes.”

Pike County Times has asked for clarification about Judge Crawford’s seat and how appointments work in judicial districts. As soon as further information is obtained, this article will be updated.

For now, here is important information for the upcoming election. Qualifying will be held beginning Monday, March 2 at 9 a.m. and will end on Friday, March 6 at noon. The election will be held on Tuesday, May 19 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you are not registered to vote already, you so do so at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov/MVP/mvp.do. You can also find important voter information there as well as a sample ballot after qualifying is completed.

Updated 2.18.20