Biden to make new appointment to federal bench in Atlanta

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash has told President Joe Biden he will become a senior judge in May. This gives the new president an appointment to the federal bench in Atlanta.

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Chief U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Thrash has told President Joe Biden he will become a senior judge in May. This gives the new president an appointment to the federal bench in Atlanta.

Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash will become a senior judge in May, giving President Joe Biden a judicial appointment to the federal bench in Atlanta.

Thrash was appointed to the bench in 1997 by President Bill Clinton and has served as the court’s chief judge since July 2014. He will take senior status on May 8, his 70th birthday, when he is no longer eligible to serve as chief judge.

“Being a federal district judge is a dream of a lifetime,” Thrash said Wednesday. “For me, to do it almost 24 years is just unbelievable. It’s provided me an immense sense of satisfaction.”

Even as a senior judge Thrash will keep close to a full caseload. “I love my job, so I’ll continue to work,” he said.

Judge Timothy Batten is next in line to succeed Thrash as chief judge of the Northern District of Georgia, which has courthouses in Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan and Rome.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias, who tracks judicial vacancies, said more than 20 judges nationwide have said they are taking senior status since Biden was sworn in. “The Georgia senators should recommend strong, mainstream, diverse candidates to Biden as soon as possible because the queue is forming quickly,” he said.

Thrash said the past 11 months have been a challenge because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jury trials are still on hold and only recently have grand juries and naturalization ceremonies resumed.

“It’s been a strain on the courts,” Thrash said. “But we have done the right thing to try and keep our employees safe and not risk the health of lawyers and jurors.”

There is a pressure to resume jury trials because of mounting caseloads, but Thrash said he wants to see more people get vaccinated and the numbers of new cases drop down to lower levels. If that happens, jury trials could possibly resume in May or June, he said.

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