The latest: State Rep. Christian Coomer is headed for a seat on the state’s Court of Appeal as Gov Nathan Deal has appointed Charlie Bethel to the state Supreme Court vacancy. The announcement Friday ends a whirlwind week of speculation over the high court vacancy and Coomer, who is now expected to resign his state House seat that presents parts of Bartow and Floyd counties. A special election will be called to fill that seat before the General Assembly convenes in January.
Media release: Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday announced the appointment of the Honorable Charlie Bethel as a justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. Bethel will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice P. Harris Hines. Deal also announced the appointment of the Honorable Christian A. Coomer to the Court of Appeals of Georgia to fill the vacancy created by Bethel’s appointment.
The appointments will take effect upon swearing in.
Charlie Bethel, Supreme Court of Georgia
Bethel currently serves as a Judge on the Court of Appeals of Georgia. He previously represented the 54th district in the Georgia State Senate and served as an alderman for the City of Dalton. Bethel has experience in dispute resolution, as the director of corporate affairs for J&J Industries and as a legal clerk for Judge Charles A. Pannell Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. He is a graduate of Leadership Georgia and was named to Georgia Trend’s “100 Most Influential Georgians” list three times. Bethel earned a bachelor’s degree in Management, cum laude, from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. He and his wife, Lynsey, have three children and reside in Dalton.
Rep. Christian A. Coomer, Court of Appeals of Georgia
Coomer represents the 14th district in the Georgia House of Representatives, where he currently serves as the majority whip. He is a solo practitioner with Christian A. Coomer, Attorney at Law, LLC. Coomer is also a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and serves as a part-time Air Force Judge Advocate currently assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters of the Georgia National Guard. He was appointed to the Court Reform Council by Deal and was named the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Legislator of the Year in 2017. Coomer received numerous awards for his military service including the U.S. Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College at Air University and the Georgia Legislative Leadership Institute. Coomer is a member of the Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Veterans Association. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Lee University and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law. Coomer and his wife, Heidi, have three children and reside in Cartersville.
Statement from Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton:
“On behalf of the Supreme Court of Georgia, I congratulate Judge Bethel on his appointment to our Court. Charlie is a dedicated public servant and an exceptional jurist. He will make a wonderful addition to this Court.” Judge Bethel has served on the Georgia Court of Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court, since his appointment by Governor Deal on Jan. 1, 2017. His appointment to the state’s highest court will fill the vacancy left by former Chief Justice P. Harris Hines who retired Aug. 31.
Here’s the official word on Christian Coomer’s nomination to the state supreme court:
The Judicial Nominating Commission has submitted recommendations to fill a vacancy on the Georgia Supreme Court. The vacancy was created by the retirement of the Honorable P. Harris Hines. The Governor’s Office will contact candidates to schedule interviews. The following names were submitted to Gov. Nathan Deal:
Charlie Bethel – Judge, Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia
Christian Coomer – private practitioner, Christian A. Coomer Attorney at Law, LLC; Judge Advocate General (JAG), Georgia Air National Guard; Representative, Georgia House of Representatives
Sara L. Doyle – Presiding Judge, Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia
Christian Coomer, currently Georgia House majority whip whose legislative district includes parts of Bartow and Floyd counties, is among those being considered for appointment to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Hometown/Bartow Headlines has learned Coomer, who has a law practice in addition to his duties in the state House, is on a list of names given to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the vacancy.
Traditionally, the commission renews the names and applicants, and then provides the governor with several nominees. The governor, in turn, makes the appointment.
Coomer’s name had been mentioned for a judgeship earlier this year on the state Court of Appeals. In late April, this item was posted:
State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) sent the following letter to House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) and other members of House leadership on Wednesday, April 25, 2018: “Two weeks before the General Assembly adjourned sine die, I was nominated to fill a vacancy on the Georgia Court of Appeals. My focus and attention remained on doing my job as a representative and the Majority Caucus Whip until the end of the legislative session. Following the session, I was selected by the Judicial Nominating Commission as a one of the nominees who would be interviewed by the commission in its process of narrowing the field of nominees for Governor Deal’s appointment. The JNC interviews will take place next week. After deliberate, prayerful reflection and consultation with my family, I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration for the appointment and continue my service in the House of Representatives… I look forward to continuing our good work together.”
Coomer got his start in politics when he ran for district attorney in the Cherokee Judicial Circuit. In 2010, he was elected to House District 14, replacing Barry Loudermilk who briefly served in the state Senate before being elected to Congress.
Additional background from his legislative web page: Coomer “was unanimously elected by his Republican colleagues as the Majority Caucus Whip in 2016. Prior to serving as Majority Whip, Rep. Coomer was the chairman of the House Transportation Committee. In that role, he led the House’s oversight of the nearly $4 billion annual budget of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Rep. Coomer also served as Senior Floor Leader to Governor Nathan Deal, shepherding the Governor’s legislation through the House.
“Rep. Coomer is a member of the following standing committees: Appropriations; Banks and Banking; Ethics; Judiciary Noncivil; Juvenile Justice; Retirement; Rules; and transportation. In addition, he has been appointed to the Public Defender Council Legislative Oversight Committee, the Fiscal Affairs Oversight Joint Subcommittee, the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group, and the Joint Transit Study Committee.
“Rep. Coomer earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Magna Cum Laude, from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee and his Juris Doctor degree at the University
of Georgia in Athens. He served four years on active duty in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) and still serves as JAG in the Georgia Air National Guard.
“After returning home from military service, Rep. Coomer started his private law practice in Cartersville. He represents clients before various government boards and agencies and in
civil and criminal litigation. ”
What’s next for the district: If Coomer earns the nomination, a special election would be necessary to fill the seat.