Atlanta, March 1, 2017 – Superior Court Judge John E. Morse, Jr. of the Eastern Judicial Circuit in Savannah has been designated to serve in place of Justice Nels S. D. Peterson in the appeals of Heatherly v. The State (S16G1498) and Le v. Sherbondy (S17A0558). The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear arguments in the cases on Monday, March 6 during its 10:00 A.M. session. In Heatherly v. The State, a man is appealing a Georgia Court of Appeals ruling that upholds his conviction in Whitfield County for theft by taking. In Le v. Sherbondy, a woman is appealing a Fulton County judge’s denial of her petition asking the court to hold her ex-husband in contempt for failing to pay child support. In addition to hearing arguments in both cases, Judge Morse will participate in the Court’s decisions.
Judge Morse, 58, was appointed to the State Court of Chatham County in July, 1992 by then-Gov. Zell Miller as one of the youngest trial judges in Georgia. A year later he became the Chief Judge of State Court and was elected to serve a full term. On May 17, 1995 Gov. Miller appointed him to the Superior Court of the Eastern Judicial Circuit. He has been re-elected for five terms.
After receiving his B.A degree from Georgia State University (with honors), Judge Morse obtained a Juris Doctor degree from Mercer University. Prior to his appointments, Judge Morse served as a Legal Assistant to the Superior Court of the Macon and Eastern Judicial Circuits. He was an Assistant District Attorney in the Eastern Judicial Circuit for nearly eight years. He also served as a special prosecutor for the Drug Prosecution Division of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia.
Judge Morse has served on numerous State commissions, State Bar committees, and community organizations. He was named Savannah Jaycee of the year and currently serves on the Board of Visitors for the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University. He is an ordained Methodist minister and has pastored a congregation for over 25 years.
Judge Morse and his wife Debbie live in Savannah and have two daughters.
(Designated judges are appointed when a justice must recuse himself or herself from a particular case. The Supreme Court of Georgia maintains a list of judges from around the state and when the need arises, the Court appoints the next judge on the list.)