Don’t forget that there is a special election tomorrow for two statewide offices, Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals, as well as some local races. These are both low-profile offices, but they are still very important seats. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution covered both of the these races last week.
On Nov. 2, Nahmias led a three-candidate field with 48.2 percent of the vote, not enough to win the race outright. He now faces Tamela “Tammy” Adkins, a Lawrenceville family law attorney, who got 35.2 percent of the vote even though she did not accept financial contributions or campaign during the general election.
Since getting into the runoff, however, Adkins has changed tacks. She is accepting financial contributions and has hit the campaign trail. And while Nahmias has the advantage of being the incumbent on Tuesday, Adkins’ name will be first on the ballot.
Nahmias graduated from Briarcliff High School, where he was a STAR student. He finished second in his class at Duke University and graduated magna cum laude at Harvard Law School, where he served on the law review with Barack Obama. He then worked as a law clerk for two of the nation’s leading conservative jurists, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Nahmias returned to Atlanta and served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office before working at the U.S. Justice Department after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, becoming deputy assistant attorney general. In late 2004, President George W. Bush appointed Nahmias to be the U.S. attorney in Atlanta.
Adkins grew up in North Carolina and worked her way through Meredith College in Raleigh. She then moved to Florida and started her own commercial cleaning company, winning contracts to clean up government buildings. In running the business, she began taking paralegal classes to help her understand business law. But when an instructor encouraged her to take the law school admission test instead, Adkins decided that her calling was the legal profession.
She obtained her law degree at the University of Bridgeport (Conn.) School of Law (now Quinnipiac College), where she graduated cum laude and served on the law review. Adkins says she has tried thousands of cases since she opened up a family law practice in Lawrenceville 18 years ago. These “trials,” she said, involve the initial hearing in a divorce case, in which a judge decides which parent retains temporary custody of the children and which parent gets to stay in the family home, and the final trial on the case.
The nonpartisan Court of Appeals race pits Atlanta lawyer Antoinette “Toni” Davis, 59, against Decatur lawyer Chris McFadden, 53. Davis led the six-candidate field in the general election with 25.5 percent of the vote, and McFadden finished second with 22.6 percent.
Davis said she gained the experience necessary to become an appellate judge by working 14 years as a staff attorney at the Georgia Supreme Court, where she worked for three justices and reviewed death-penalty appeals.
Davis said she would model herself after retired Justice Hardy Gregory, for whom she worked for more than a decade. Gregory, she said, instilled in her the importance of being thorough — reading the entire record before deciding a case.
“She is one of the most self-effacing people I’ve ever met and can write as well as anyone,” said Gregory, now a Cordele attorney. “She has tremendous ability and the intellect to think things through and figure it all out.”
Being a member of the Court of Appeals bench, Davis said, “would give me the opportunity to marry my desires and passions — my love for the law and my love to write. Nothing excited me as much as helping to decide cases.”
If elected, Davis said, her goal is to write court decisions that are clear not only to lawyers and trial judges,”but also to regular folks so they can know what is expected of them.”
McFadden, president-elect of the Atlanta Bar Association, has specialized in appeals work for two decades. He co-founded the State Bar of Georgia’s appellate practice section and co-wrote the book “Georgia Appellate Practice,” which is used by lawyers and judges.
“I’ve never known any attorney who is more in love with appeals than Chris,” said Mike Mears, associate dean for the John Marshall Law School. “I think he brings the greater experience to the appellate process in this race, and he’s represented so many people on appeal he has that unique perspective as well.”
McFadden said he helped resolve a potential crisis earlier this year after lawmakers raised the cost of copying and preparing a case record for appeal from $1.50 a page to $10 a page. That boosted the costs of routine appeals to tens of thousands of dollars, making it too expensive for many litigants to pursue them. McFadden said he drafted a proposed rule that would allow both parties in a case to prepare a record for appeal and avoid the $10-per-page fees.
The State Bar of Georgia submitted the proposed change, which was adopted by both the state Supreme Court and, later, the Court of Appeals.
I’ll be casting ballots for Nahmias and McFadden.