Atlanta, Sept. 6, 2016 – Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines of Marietta, GA has been
unanimously elected as the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He will assume
the position Friday, Jan. 6, 2017, succeeding Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson.
The Court has also unanimously elected Justice Harold D. Melton to become the new
The state’s Chief Justice presides over Georgia’s judicial branch, just as the governor
heads the executive branch of government, and House and Senate leaders lead the legislative
branch. The Presiding Justice serves in his absence. The Chief Justice is the main spokesperson
for the Court, as well as for the entire judiciary. He presides over oral arguments and runs the
meetings in which the Court issues decisions in cases, although he has only one vote as does
each of the Justices. The Chief Justice, who serves one 4-year term, also chairs the Georgia
Judicial Council, the policy-making body for the judicial branch that is made up of 26 judges
who represent the appellate courts and all classes of trial courts in the state.
Presiding Justice Hines served as Superior Court Judge of the Cobb Judicial Circuit for
more than 12 years before Gov. Zell Miller appointed him to the state Supreme Court in 1995.
He spent the previous eight years as a judge of the State Court in Cobb County. In 1969, he
joined the law firm of Edwards, Bentley, Awtrey & Parker of Marietta, GA where he became a
partner in 1973. An Atlanta native, Justice Hines graduated from Henry W. Grady High School,
Emory University and Emory University School of Law. For 16 years, he has served as
Chairman of the Georgia Supreme Court’s Committee on Justice for Children. He and his wife,
Helen, have two grown children.
Justice Melton served as Executive Counsel to Gov. Sonny Perdue before the governor
appointed him to the state Supreme Court in 2005. Before that, he spent 11 years in the Georgia
Department of Law under two Attorneys General where he dealt with issues that ranged from the
creation of the Georgia Lottery Corporation to the administration of Georgia’s tobacco
settlement. He eventually served as Section Leader over the Consumer Interests Division. A
native of Washington, D.C., Justice Melton grew up in East Point and Marietta, GA. He received
a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and his Juris Doctorate from the
University of Georgia in 1991. An Atlanta resident, he and his wife, Kimberly, have three
Both justices will be sworn into their new positions in a ceremony at the State Capitol in
House chambers on Jan. 6.