By Pat Cooper
On Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the appointment of Fayette County current Magistrate Court Judge Jason B. Thompson as State Court judge of Fayette County. Thompson will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of the Hon. Carla Wong McMillian to the Georgia Court of Appeal. The appointment will take effect upon swearing in but a date has not yet been set.
Thompson’s appointment comes less than a year after his election to his current Magistrate Judge position. He said that, at the time he was considering running for office, he hadn’t considered running for the state court judge position since he knew McMillian was doing “such a good job” and was also aware of the quality of her competition for that seat.
“I knew Stephen Ott and he’s a very good judge in Peachtree City, so either way I knew the county would be in good hands.”
Then McMillian was appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals, leaving the state court judge position open in January.
“I talked it over with my family and we agreed it would be a great opportunity to be more involved in this community and it gives me an opportunity to give back to the community full time. I’m a local guy. I’ve always had a desire to be involved and this is community service at the right time.”
So Thompson, along with 17 other applicants, submitted his name for consideration, went through the Judicial Nominating Committee interviews and background checks and then discovered he was one of three - current chief magistrate judge Robert Ruppenthal and local attorney Rhonda B. Kreuziger, owner and senior counsel of The Kreuziger Law Firm, P.C.- who made the short list for the governor’s consideration.
Even at that point, Thompson didn’t consider he’d be the one selected.
“There were quality people on the list and he couldn’t go wrong no matter how he went, but I just didn’t think I’d be the one selected. I wouldn’t have put my name in if I didn’t think I could do the job. The governor had a good pool of people to choose from.”
Thompson was raised in Fayette County and has an active law practice here. He serves on a number of boards for Fayette County, including the following: The Joseph Sams School, Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, The Southern Crescent Chorale, and Providence United Methodist Church. He is Past President of the Fayette County Bar Association, former Attorney Coach for both the mock trial teams from McIntosh High School and Fayette County High School, as well as an organizer and lecturer for The People’s Law School of Fayette County.
He is also very active in the soccer community as he currently serves as the Referee Assignor for Peachtree City Youth Soccer Association and Volunteer Coach for the U-6 Lil’ Lightning team for Fayette County Youth Soccer League. Prior to that he was a Past Board Member for the Fayette County Youth Soccer League and Past President for the AFC Lightning Soccer Club.
Thompson is married to Alisha and they have three children, Baine (seven), Aida Lynn (three) and Alexander (six months).
Thompson doesn’t know when he’ll be sworn in, as the date hasn’t been selected yet, so he will continue in his current position until then. The day he’s sworn in, though, his wife Alisha will have to step down from her position as a prosecutor with the state court.
“I couldn’t have done this without her support and she is really good at what she does. It was a real sacrifice for her to resign because of this.”
He said the couple haven’t decided what she’ll be doing after that- teaching, working in another county or being a stay-at-home mom.
“We believe you can live in the community or be a part of it. We decided to become a part of it and get involved.”
Thompson is also only the third state court judge in county history. McMillian was appointed after a shake-up in the Griffin Judicial Circuit’s superior court judge’s roster placed the county’s first State Court Judge- and former District Attorney-, Fletcher Sams on the Superior Court bench.
“He’s one of my role models. I tried my first jury trial in front of him. He’s very fair and kept an efficient calendar. He’s one of the judges I’ll emulate. He treated everyone with respect. He was firm when he needed to be.
“I’m excited and honored with the opportunities and the challenges.”