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Ozburn loses bid for top Ga. court

COVINGTON - Superior Court Judge Samuel D. Ozburn's bid for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court is over.

Gov. Sonny Perdue announced Thursday morning that he has selected David Nahmias, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, to fill the open seat left by former Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears, who stepped down in June.

"I'm glad to finally hear a decision was made," Ozburn said. "I was a little disappointed I didn't receive it, but this has been an interesting and enjoyable process, and everyone in Newton and Walton counties has been so gracious and supportive. It's something I'll never forget. I'm honored to be where I am, and I've got plenty to do and I'll continue presiding in cases here and doing the best I can to serve the people."

Ozburn, who has served in the Alcovy Judicial Circuit since 2005, was nominated by state Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, earlier this year. In July, it was announced that Ozburn made the short list of nominees submitted by the Judicial Nominating Commission to Perdue for consideration.

"I want to congratulate U.S. Attorney David Nahmias for his selection as our newest Georgia Supreme Court member. I look forward to his service to our state," Douglas said in a prepared statement. "We should all congratulate our own Judge Samuel Ozburn of the Alcovy Circuit, who would have been such an outstanding associate justice for Georgia. He put forth great effort to ensure his nomination was still standing at the end and made us all very proud once again. I hope that he will allow me to re-nominate him should another vacancy occur."

Nahmias will serve the remainder of Sears' current term through 2010, and could then run in the 2010 statewide election to serve a six-year term beginning in 2011.

Nahmias was appointed U.S. attorney in Atlanta in 2004 by President George W. Bush.

He helped lead the prosecution of Olympic Park bomber Eric Robert Rudolph and former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell.

Nahmias is an Atlanta native and a graduate of Harvard Law School.

He recently spearheaded the cases against Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, who were both convicted of seeking to aid terrorist groups abroad.

Nahmias was recommended by some of the most highly regarded legal minds in the nation, including Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, U.S. Circuit Court Judge Laurence Silberman, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, according to a press release issued by the governor's office.

"David has the ability to serve this state well and is someone who we can trust to guard this country's bedrock principles," Perdue said. "His integrity, commitment to public service and strict adherence to the law as written will make him an excellent justice."

Nahmias lives in Dunwoody with his wife, Cathy, and their two sons, Steven and Michael.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.