Atlanta, April 26, 2019 – Justice Robert Benham has announced that he will leave the Supreme Court of Georgia in 2020 and will not seek reelection to another six-year term.
Twenty-nine years ago, Justice Benham became the first African American to serve on the state’s highest court when then-Gov. Joe Frank Harris appointed him in December 1989. A native of Cartersville, GA, he has been reelected every six years since then in statewide, nonpartisan elections. He served as Georgia’s Chief Justice from 1995-2001 after being elected to the position by his colleagues.
“Justice Benham has been a steady force behind this Court,” Chief Justice Harold Melton said. “As a jurist, he has been unwavering in his commitment to ensuring that all people have equal access to the courts. As a man, he is the embodiment of justice and mercy. He is one of those who manages to bring the best out of people.”
Justice Benham, 72, will leave the Court at the end of 2020, which marks the end of his current term. For some time, he quietly has been telling people that this would be his last term on the court as he would reach the mandatory age of retirement – 75 – shortly after beginning a new term, were he to run again. A statewide election in May 2020 will determine his successor.