December 6, 2019–7:54 a.m.
Justice Robert Benham announced today that he will resign from the Supreme Court of Georgia effective March 1, 2020 – before his current six-year term ends a year from now. In making this decision, he has acknowledged that a number of candidates have announced preparations to run for his seat in anticipation of an open election. Gov. Brian Kemp now will appoint his replacement.
“This has been a difficult decision. I have enjoyed every day of service to the people of Georgia, but after 34 years on the bench, it is time for me to step down,” Justice Benham said. “Once I was at peace with this decision, I wanted to let people know as soon as possible, especially those who were hoping to run in an open election. Furthermore, it is my hope that the timing of my retirement will cause minimal disruption to the court.”
Justice Benham was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia in December 1989 by Gov. Joe Frank Harris. He was the first African American appointed to the state’s highest court and has been elected statewide to six-year terms ever since. He served as Chief Justice from 1995-2001. Prior to serving on the Supreme Court, Justice Benham served five years on the Court of Appeals of Georgia, the state’s intermediate appellate court. A native of Cartersville, GA, Justice Benham obtained a degree in political science in 1963 from Tuskegee University, a law degree from the University of Georgia, Lumpkin School of Law in 1970, and a Master of Law degree from the University of Virginia. Following law school, Justice Benham served in the U.S. Army Reserve, attaining the rank of Captain.