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Local officials back Ozburn for judgeship

COVINGTON - Officials with Newton County and the city of Covington have passed resolutions supporting the nomination of Superior Court Judge Samuel D. Ozburn to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Both resolutions were expected to be submitted to the Judicial Nominating Commission, which will pare down nominations and submit a short list to Gov. Sonny Perdue, who will make the appointment.

County commissioners passed a resolution praising Ozburn and supporting his nomination at their June 2 meeting, and Covington City Council members followed suit on June 15.

Commissioner Mort Ewing said he has known Ozburn all his life.

"He is the type of person that I think we need on the Georgia Supreme Court. He has the character I think we need for a Georgia Supreme Court judge," Ewing said.

Chairman Kathy Morgan echoed Ewing, calling Ozburn fair and honorable.

"His integrity is beyond reproach, but most of all his knowledge of the law and understanding of people is unsurpassed in this community," she said.

The city of Covington's resolution recognized Ozburn's commitment "to improvement of education of self and others."

Ozburn has worked with Literacy Volunteers of America to create a program where criminals on probation are required to participate in literacy activities and obtain a GED. He has also created a program allowing school children to observe court proceedings, tour the judicial center, speak with judges, shadow court personnel and view videos concerning youthful offenders.

"Samuel D. Ozburn has exhibited himself to be both personally and professionally a man of impeccable character and integrity who values and stands up for all people and their inalienable rights and liberties as provided and protected by the United States Constitution and all state, federal and local rules of law. He exemplifies the statement of 'others before self,'" the resolution states.

Ozburn was nominated to the Georgia Supreme Court by State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, to replace Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears upon her retirement the end of this month.

If selected by Perdue, Ozburn would become an associate justice of the court. The court is comprised of a chief justice and six associate justices.

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

If he is appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court, Ozburn would resign as Superior Court judge, leaving a vacancy in the Alcovy Circuit.

Ozburn was appointed as judge of the Superior Court of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit by Gov. Zell Miller in 1995 and has been re-elected to four terms without opposition.

He served as justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia by special designation in May 2005.

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