Clark v. DealAnnotate this Case
Act No. 138 (House Bill 279 or the “Act”) established three new seats on the Court of Appeals, to which, Governor Nathan Deal appointed Amanda H. Mercier, Nels S.D. Peterson, and Brian M. Rickman. In this action, John Clark, Ivory Kenneth Dious, Francys Johnson, Jr., Henry C. Ficklin, and Darryl A. Momon (collectively referred to as “Clark”) contended that the new judges were improperly appointed. After considering the Georgia Constitution, related statutory authority, and the history of judicial appointments to the Court of Appeals, the trial court held that the 1983 Georgia Constitution permitted the Governor to fill newly created seats on the Court of Appeals by appointment. Clark then appealed, and, in addition, filed an emergency motion for supersedeas, again to prevent the Governor from administering the oath of office to the appointees. The Supreme Court denied the emergency motion on December 18, 2015. The Governor also filed a cross-appeal, contending that the trial court erred in its determination that sovereign immunity did not protect him from the injunction and declaratory judgment action brought against him. The new Court of Appeals judges took office on January 1, 2016. The only part of this action which remained viable for the Supreme Court's review was Clark’s petition for a writ of quo warranto, which became ripe at the time that the new judges assumed office. Throughout this litigation, Clark contended that OCGA 15-3-4 (b) was unconstitutional because the Georgia Constitution required that Court of Appeals judges who fill newly created seats must be selected by a general nonpartisan election. After review of the same authorities relied upon by the trial court, the Supreme Court concluded that court did not err in declining to issue a writ of quo warranto.