The process is underway for President Donald Trump to make nominations for positions that directly affect Middle Georgia.
Three vacancies — a District Court judge, U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal — in the federal Middle District of Georgia are set to be filled by Trump. The Middle District stretches from Georgia’s southwestern corner through Albany, Macon and Athens to the South Carolina border.
Monday is the deadline for nominations for the judgeship to fill the vacancy created by Judge Ashley Royal, who took senior status Sept. 1, 2016. Senior status is a form of semiretirement for federal judges, who are appointed for life.
The bench is allotted four judges, along with Royal, Judge Hugh Lawson, who took senior status in 2008, and Judge W. Louis Sands, who took senior status in 2014.
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A screening committee is set to interview candidates on a date yet to be released.
The committee is made up of Statesboro attorney James B. Franklin, Marietta attorney Robert D. Ingram, University of Georgia law professor Ronald L. Carlson, Atlanta attorney Josh Belinfante, retired Atlanta attorney Dwight Davis, and Michael J. Long, who served 36 years as Houston County’s attorney.
After conducting the interviews, the committee will prepare a short list of candidates and submit the names to Georgia’s U.S. senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, Belinfante said.
The senators then will submit their recommendation to the White House.
Just like Trump’s recent nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, he also nominates other judges to lower federal courts. The names of potential nominees are often recommended by senators or sometimes by members of the House who are of the president's political party.
Once Trump chooses a candidate, the prospective new judge must be vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee. A confirmation hearing is held, and the committee votes on whether the candidate’s nomination should move to the Senate floor, Marie Gordon, a spokeswoman for Isakson, said in an email. The Senate must then vote on whether to confirm the nomination.
A similar process will be used to recommend a new U.S. attorney, the top federal prosecutor for the Middle District. The application deadline for that position hasn’t been announced.
Gordon said a different selection committee and vetting group will handle the U.S. marshal nomination.