Carley Takes Reins of Supreme Court

Twenty-two years after he stepped down as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, Justice George H. Carley was sworn-in as the twenty-ninth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.  On May 29, 2012, Justice Carley became the first jurist to have served as presiding and chief judge of the Court of Appeals and Presiding and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.  

Justice Carley was elected by his peers to serve as Chief Justice for a two-month period prior to his retirement. The 73-year-old Carley decided against seeking re-election in 2012 rather than serving a year and a half of a six-year-term prior to turning 75, the mandatory retirement age for Georgia judges.  Justice Carley will retire on July 17, creating a vacancy on the high court that will be filled by gubernatorial appointment.
Honoring Carley
Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein welcomed the standing-room only crowd to the Supreme Court courtroom. Justice Carley was introduced by former Chief Justice Willis B. Hunt, Senior Judge, US District Court, Northern District.  Judge Hunt reminisced about visiting the Judicial Building on Saturdays to share a cup of coffee with the Carley who regularly worked on Saturdays in his traditional coat and tie. Justice Carley, Judge Hunt said, is proof that “a truly decent human being can rise to great heights even in the law profession.”  Judge Steve C. Jones, US District Court, Northern District, administered the oath of office to his long-time friend and mentor.
alt Distinguished guests included the court’s six past living chief justices. Former chief justices Harold G. Clarke (1990-1994), Willis B. Hunt (1994-1995), Norman S. Fletcher (2001-2005), and Leah Ward Sears (2005-2009) joined current-court members Justice Robert Benham and Presiding Justice Carol W. Hunstein in their acclamation of Chief Justice Carley’s elevation.  The current Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the Court of Appeals joined friends, family, former law partners, and colleagues past and present for the historic occasion.  A die-hard University of Georgia fan, the Chief Justice thanked retiring UGA President Michael Adams and UGA Law School Dean Rebecca White for attending the investiture. 
Chief Justice Carley extended his gratitude to Presiding Justice Hunstein whose suggestion and generosity allowed him the opportunity to serve as Chief Justice. “It is only through her graciousness this has happened. This was all her idea. ... I will forever be grateful to that.” In closing, Justice Carley thanked his Decatur High School Civics teacher Ms. Emily Norton for her encouragement and direction is seeking out the law as a career.
Three Decades of Service
altOn April 5, 1979, Gov. George Busbee appointed Justice Carley to the Court of Appeals (left), beginning his 33-year judicial career. He served as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals from January 1, 1989 to December 31, 1990.  In 1993, Gov. Zell Miller elevated him to the Supreme Court of Georgia.  In 2009, Justice Carley assumed the role of Presiding Justice.
Chief Justice Carley presided over the May 31 Judicial Council meeting in Savannah, GA. He has served on the Judicial Council of Georgia twice, from 1987 – 1990 and from 2009 until the present.  From 1993-2001, Justice Carley was a member of the Commission on Dispute Resolution and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Mock Trial Championships.

Justice Carley graduated from Decatur High School in 1956 and received his A.B. degree from the University of Georgia in 1960. He also received his LL.B. degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1962. While at UGA, Carley was a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity and was an Associate Justice of the Law School Honor Court. He served in the United States Army Reserve from 1956 to 1960 (active duty 1956).


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