Balance to the system after historic changes in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Court

It wasn’t just COVID-19 that made 2020 a year for the history books. After being a male-dominated court system since its inception, some historic changes in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit put the first female superior court judge on the bench in Walton County. It is now adding a second female superior court judge who also will be the first African American female judge in the circuit.

From left, Superior Court Judge Layla Zon and soon to be Superior Court Judge Cheveda McCamy, both appointed to the Alcovy Circuit by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2020

The Alcovy Judicial Circuit serves both Walton and Newton County. It was known that there would be some changes in 2021 when earlier this year three of the judges announced they would not be running for re-election in November. After a decade with no changes, Superior Court Judges Samuel D. Ozburn, Eugene M. Benton and Horace Johnson, Jr all announced they would be leaving at the end of the year. Johnson to run for the Georgia Supreme Court and Ozburn and Benton to retire. Zon and McCamy, who were district attorney and chief assistant district in the Alcovy Judicial Court and Henry County respectively, announced they would be running to fill the seats vacated by Ozburn and Benton. Attorneys Jeff Foster and Robert H. Stanford joined McCamy in the race for Benton’s seat.

But nothing happened as planned. Ozburn announced his early retirement and Gov. Brian Kemp ultimately appointed Zon to fill his seat. She became the first female superior court judge to sit on the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Court when Kemp swore her in on June 6.

In March, when Kemp appointed Judge Carla Wong McMillian Johnson to the Supreme Court, Johnson went ahead and qualified for re-election for his seat on the Alcovy Judicial Circuit. He was unopposed and subsequently reelected in June 2020. He would have continued his judgeship in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit, but sadly that too did not happen. Johnson passed away on July 1 after testing positive for COVID-19 two days before.

Foster went ahead to win the seat that will be vacated by Benton at the end of the year after McCamy did not quite make a runoff election and Foster defeated Stansfield in the runoff election in August. But McCamy will get her seat on the bench after all. She will be sworn in by Kemp in a private ceremony at the state Capitol on Oct. 26. So the unusual year that is 2020 began with an all male Judicial Circuit in Walton County and will end the year with two female Superior Court judges. Foster will be sworn in next year following Benton’s retirement.

Randy McGinley was sworn in to replace Zon as Acting District Attorney in June and is running against Destiny Bryant in the general election in an attempt to serve for a full term as Alcovy Judicial Circuit District Attorney.

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