ATLANTA — Sen. Jesse Stone’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration for a vacant judgeship in Burke County paved the way for Gov. Nathan Deal to appoint Jack Cox.

Deal announced the appointment Nov. 18. A retired Richmond County judge has been hearing cases in the meantime.
Cox, Burke County’s solicitor general, and Stone were the only candidates for the Burke County State Court position left vacant with the February death of Judge Jerry Daniel.

Stone’s Senate opponent, Diane Evans, attacked him for seeking both positions at once, but Stone promised during the campaign to withdraw from consideration of the judicial post if he won another legislative term. When the votes were counted Nov. 4, Stone took 61 percent to Evans’ 39.

Stone, a Republican, said one of the reasons he withdrew was because his resignation from the Senate would have triggered a special election that could cost more than $100,000 in the 11-county district. It would also give Evans, a Democrat, an advantage because she had recently been campaigning and has name recognition.

“I’d probably be doing the party a disservice if it unfolded that way,” he said.

The lawmaker hand delivered a letter Nov. 10 to the governor’s office withdrawing from consideration, posting it on Facebook to prove to supporters that he’d fulfilled a campaign promise.

Cox is a Democrat, but Stone expressed no disappointment.

“I was glad Jack got it. He’s qualified,” the senator said.

Cox has had a private legal practice in Waynesboro since 2000. He earned his law degree from the University of Georgia after getting a bachelor’s degree in economics from Davidson College in North Carolina.

Stone chairs the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which put him in the middle of controversy over legislation aimed at curbing private probation. It became a campaign issue and also the subject of a lawsuit that went all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court.

He received criticism over handling of the bill in his committee, but he argues he was trying to reform a flawed system without interfering with the judgment of the state’s top court. And he says reports that we removed public safeguards from the House version of the bill are incorrect.


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