Frederick Hicks noted that Judge Horace Johonson had tested positive for COVID-19 just prior to his death Wednesday.
“He received his positive test on Monday after getting tested last week. He was previously tested at the beginning of May and was negative,” Hicks said, refuting some claims that Johnson had died of a heart attack. He said to the best of his knowledge, Johnson had no underlying heart condition.
Alcovy Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson, Jr. unexpectedly passed away early Wednesday morning,” a friend and the man who helped run the Judge’s campaign, Frederick Hicks, confirmed.
At this time details of the Judge’s passing are not available, but yesterday Acting District Attorney Randy McGinley canceled Johnson’s calendar for July 2 in Newton County.
Johnson was re-elected to his seat in June after initially announcing last year that he would be seeking the Georgia Supreme Court seat held by the retiring Justice Robert Benham. However, when Benham took early retirement and a replacement was appointed for him, Johnson instead qualified and was re-elected to serve a fifth full term in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit serving Walton and Newton counties.
Once his passing became known, accolades for the judge began pouring in. Hicks said he was still trying to come to terms with the news. Monroe attorney Eric Crawford expressed regret at the passing of Johnson, noting that he would miss appearing in front of the judge in the future.
“Judge Johnson was a great man and judge. Always gregarious both on and off the bench, he treated those before him fairly, often with tough love,” Crawford. “His absence will be noticed and missed by all who knew him.”
Johnson was a graduate of Emory University and the University of Georgia School of Law before going on to serve in the judiciary for more than 17 years. He also was known for his service to the state as well as the communities that he worked and lived it. He served as chairman and president of Leadership Georgia in 2009 and 2010 respectively. Leadership Georgia engages business and civic leaders across the State to promote community building and economic development. He was a past president of the Arts Association in Newton County, Covington Kiwanis Club, and Newton Mentoring, just to name a few. In 2016, Johnson was elected by his judiciary peers as the first African American President of the Council of Superior Court Judges. He also is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Leader for Professional Excellence from the Daily Report, the 2018 Frederick B. Kerr Service Award from the Leadership Georgia Foundation, and the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the State Bar of Georgia’s Chief Justice Commission on Professionalism.
Johnson also initiated a Veterans’ Treatment Court where prosecutors, defense attorneys, veteran peer mentors, and health care professionals use evidence-based screening and assessments to identify eligible veterans to voluntarily participate in a judicially-supervised treatment plan as an alternative to incarceration. He also presided over a Parental Accountability Court which seeks to promote consistency in child support payments and improved parent/child contact.
Johnson leaves behind a wife, Michelle, and two children.