Deal puts first Asian-American on state appellate court

Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday appointed Fayette County State Court Judge Carla Wong McMillian to be the first Asian-American to serve on a Georgia appellate court.

McMillian, 39, fills a vacancy on the state Court of Appeals created by the resignation of Judge Harris Adams. When she takes the oath of office, McMillian will join three other judges appointed by Deal on the busy 12-judge appeals court.

“It’s bittersweet because I feel like I was making a difference in my community,” McMillian said. “But I am honored to be appointed to the Court of Appeals.”

McMillian said her grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from China in the 1920s and her mother is from Hong Kong. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her law degree from the University of Georgia.

She was a partner at the Atlanta law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan when then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed her to the Fayette bench in 2010. Last July, when she retained her seat, McMillian became the first Asian-American woman elected judge in Georgia, the governor’s office said.

McMillian, who lives in Tyrone with her husband and their two children, was among three candidates recommended to fill the Court of Appeals vacancy by Deal’s Judicial Nominating Commission. The other finalists were Dougherty County Superior Court Judge Stephen Goss and Tift County State Court Judge Larry Mims.

McMillian is a member of the board of advisers of the Atlanta Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. In 2010, she received the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Georgia award from the National Diversity Council.