Kemp appoints first Asian-American woman to Georgia Supreme Court

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Judge Carla Wong McMillian to be a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court on on Friday, March 27, 2020. (photo: Georgia Court of Appeals)
Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Judge Carla Wong McMillian to be a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court on on Friday, March 27, 2020. (photo: Georgia Court of Appeals)

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday appointed Judge Carla Wong McMillian to be a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court.

McMillian, who serves on the state Court of Appeals, will become the first Asian-American woman in the Southeast to be put on the state's highest court, the governor's press office said.

McMillian will succeed Robert Benham, who retired from the state high court on March 1.

“Obviously, there are more important things happening in the world right now, but this appointment is an honor and a proud moment for me and my family,” the judge said Friday. “I am humbled by Governor Kemp’s confidence in me.”

McMillian’s 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.

McMillian was a partner at the Atlanta law firm Sutherland Asbill & Brennan when then-Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed her to the Fayette County State Court bench in 2010. A year later, when she retained her seat, McMillian became the first Asian-American woman judge to win a Georgia election.

Also Friday, Kemp moved to fill two vacancies on the Georgia Court of Appeals, one created with McMillian’s elevation to the state high court.

Joining the appeals court bench will be Judge Verda Colvin of the Macon Judicial Circuit and Henry County Superior Court Judge John “Trea” Pipkin III.

Judge Verda Colvin (Facebook)
Judge Verda Colvin (Facebook)

Colvin is a former state and federal prosecutor and sits on the investigative panel of the state's judicial watchdog agency.

In 2016, a video of Colvin using strong words and compassion to some at-risk youths went viral. She made the remarks as part of the Bibb County Sheriff's Office "Consider the Consequences" program.

Pipkin, a former assistant DA for the Flint Judicial Circuit, was appointed to the Henry County bench by then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018.