Melton, 51, took the oath from Harris Hines, his longtime friend, mentor and predecessor as chief justice. Hines recalled that, when he was a Cobb County judge decades ago, his wife read a story in the newspaper about a promising young college student who said he wanted to become a lawyer. At her urging, Hines called Melton and recruited him to serve as an intern.
“I have loved him since that time,” said the 74-year-old Hines, who wore a small UGA emblem on the upper back of his robe to show his support for the Bulldogs. “I don’t know if he’s like my youngest brother or oldest child.”
The only problem Hines said he had with Melton was his alma mater: Auburn University. Not missing a beat, Melton wore a Auburn emblem on his robe as well. At Auburn, Melton became the school’s first black student body president.
During a short speech, Melton thanked his family and many friends from his church, his neighborhood and his past for helping him get to where he is today.
Melton, who has served on the state Supreme Court since 2005, succeeds Hines, who is retiring from the bench. Before swearing in Melton, Hines administered the oath to David Nahmias as the Supreme Court's next presiding justice.