Chief Justice Harold Melton

A Bibb County judge has been appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court by Gov. Brian Kemp. Judge Verda M. Colvin has previously been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals by Kemp.

She is the first African American woman to be named to either court by a Republican governor. Colvin also is a former state and federal prosecutor and was a judge on the Superior Court in Macon. She replaces Harold Melton, who recently left the Georgia Supreme Court to enter private practice. Melton was the only Black judge on the Supreme Court and just the third in the high court’s history.

Alyssa Pointer via AJC

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton announced Friday that he is stepping down on July 1, in the middle of his term. Melton said in a statement that he doesn’t yet know what he’ll do next, but that he is exploring opportunities “for the next season of life that will allow me to best serve our legal community and my extended family.” Melton was appointed to the state’s highest court in 2005 by former Gov. Sonny Perdue. He became chief justice in 2018. He's currently the only Black justice on the Georgia Supreme Court. Republican Gov.

AP Photo/John Amis

Georgia court officials say they are hopeful jury trials will resume in March given the recent decline in coronavirus cases along with the rollout of vaccines.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton signed an order on Sunday extending for another 30 days a statewide judicial emergency that suspends the trials because of concerns about COVID-19. But the order says the surge in virus cases that led to the suspension appears to be declining, and it is anticipated that superior and state courts will get the green light to resume the trials at their discretion in March.

AP Photo/John Amis

Judges say Georgia's court system could take years to dig out of a backlog of jury trials delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton told lawmakers during hearings Wednesday that it could take one to two years to catch up. Superior Court Judge Wade Padgett estimates it could be more like three years.

As COVID-19 continue to rise in Georgia, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton is urging the state’s courts to reevaluate resuming jury trials and other in-person court proceedings.

In a statement Wednesday, Melton said judges may need to reverse course on the in-person hearings if the spread of the virus prevents them from doing so safely. Melton made the statement after signing his ninth order extending the statewide judicial emergency he first announced March 14, 2020 due to the pandemic. The new order extends the judicial emergency another 30 days to Jan. 8.