Davis will be paid about $175,000 a year and must also be confirmed by lawmakers on the House and Senate judiciary committees next year. The chairs of both panels have each submitted letters endorsing his appointment.
A graduate of Mercer University and Vanderbilt’s law school, Davis has worked in the business litigation practice for the Jones Day law firm since 2002 and is a veteran of headline-grabbing disputes, including a recent fight over Newell Rubbermaid’s appraisal.
He’s never served as a judge, but wants his approach to cases to echo U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
“My job is to primarily call balls and strikes, to be fair and impartial. The outcome of a particular case can so often be tied to how a case is handled day in and day out,” he said. “We have the opportunity to help the lawyers get past some of those smaller grievances that tend to bog us down.”
The idea for a state business court was long pushed by former Gov. Nathan Deal and his advisory council to quickly resolve complicated business cases through a dedicated court. Supporters also said it could help entice more large corporations to set up shop in Georgia.
Davis said the court would help Georgia “fix a hole in our swing” by giving businesses, particularly those outside of Atlanta, a new outlet to resolve disputes. That was also a focus for Kemp, whose campaign hinged on huge support from outside metro Atlanta.
There was little organized opposition to the new statewide system, but critics of the idea said those cases would better be handled in local courts and worried it gave the governor – who already has tremendous influence on judicial posts – even more sway.
Davis said he had never met Kemp before he interviewed for the post and that he’s focused on ensuring the court has a “real impact” by setting up a system that can be expanded by lawmakers in the future.
“The governor did a lot of homework to try to find someone who could bring instant credibility to the court,” said Davis, “and I hope I can live up to that.”