Judge Zon and acting DA McGinley take Oath of Office

Tuesday morning, June 2, 2020, Alcovy Judicial Circuit’s first female Superior Court Judge Layla Zon was given the Oath of Office at the State Capitol by Gov. Brian Kemp. That afternoon, she performed her first official duty as a judge. She was asked by fellow Superior Court Judge John Ott to offer comments after he swore in her replacement, Acting District Attorney Randy McGinley.

Newly-appointed Alcovy Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Layla Zon is giving the Oath of Office by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Contributed photo

The day began at 9 a.m. in downtown Atlanta with the swearing-in of Zon. Her last official duty as Alcovy Circuit District Attorney had been five days earlier when she concluded her part in the prosecution of Kinterie Durden, 19, of Social Circle for the 2017 murder of Cortez White and Davoddren Harris. On May 28, Zon presented her case for the sentencing of Durden to life, without the possibility of parole, to Alcovy Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Samuel Ozburn, the judge whom she has now replaced on the bench. Ozburn effectively retired on April 30, except for instances like the conclusion of the Durden case. He is expected to announce his judgment on Durden’s sentence in the near future. Durden’s defense argued for life with the possibility of parole.

Up until her appointment, Zon had served Newton and Walton County as a prosecutor for 20 years and was the district attorney for the past 10 years. Prior to that, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Liberty University and hlaw degree from Georgia State College of Law.  Zon serves as a board member for A Child’s Voice Child Advocacy Center and president of the District Attorney’s Association of Georgia. She is a former chair of the Newton County Community Partnership Board and has been involved in Leadership Georgia and the Covington Rotary Club. She and her family reside in Covington where she is an active member of First Baptist Church. She is the first female superior court judge in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit.

Gov. Brian Kemp presents newly sworn in Superior Court Judge Layla Zon with a gavel made by prisoners in the Georgia corrections system, a tradition begun by former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. Contributed photo
From Left: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp with Alcovy Judicial Circuit Judges; newly retired Samuel D. Ozburn, newly appointed Layla H. Zon, John M. Ott, W. Kendall Wynne, Horace Johnson, Jr. and Eugene M. Benton. Contributed photo
Judge John M. Ott administers the Oath of Office to Acting Alcovy Judicial Circuit Acting District Attorney Randy McGinley. Photo credit: Sharon Swanepoel

At 2 p.m. in Courtroom 4 at the Walton County Government Building, former Alcovy Judicial Circuit Court Chief Assistant District Attorney McGinley was sworn in as the Acting District Attorney of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit by Chief Judge John Ott. He replaces Zon serving  Newton and Walton County with the same duties and responsibilities as the district attorney.

“I am excited and honored to continue to serve both Walton and Newton Counties as I have for over 9 years. I am committed to handling all matters that come to our offices fairly, justly, and without fear, favor, or affection,” McGinley said. “Our attorneys, investigators, victim advocates, and legal assistants will serve our communities and the citizens of Newton and Walton Counties with honor, dignity, and professionalism while upholding the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Georgia.”

Kemp is expected to formally appoint Zon’s replacement. Zon said Kemp has the choice of either naming a replacement or letting the election in November continue, at which time McGinley would face fellow assistant district attorney Destiny Bryant.

McGinley graduated from Georgia Tech in 2004 and the Mercer School of Law in 2011. Between obtaining his undergraduate degree and law degree, McGinley owned his own real estate appraisal company.

Since starting with the Alcovy Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Acting DA McGinley has tried over 50 cases to verdict, including numerous murder cases, numerous crimes against children, gang crimes, and complex white-collar crimes. He has taught and trained law enforcement at all agencies within the Circuit, members of the District Attorney’s Office, and prosecutors from all over the State of Georgia. As the former Chief Assistant District Attorney for more than three years, McGinley managed both offices and oversaw the more than 7000 cases that come into the offices every year.


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