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Trump gets to fill new vacancy on federal bench in Atlanta

U.S. District Judge Richard Story has informed the White House he will take senior status, giving President Donald Trump another vacancy to fill on the federal bench in Atlanta.

Story, who has presided over numerous sensational cases during his time on the bench, will become a senior judge with a reduced caseload on Dec. 1.

“I look forward to doing the work of the court, but at a different pace,” Story, 65, said Tuesday. “I still love what I’m doing.”

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia is allotted 11 judges. So far, Trump has filled one vacancy with Michael Brown, a former prosecutor and partner at the Alston & Bird law firm. Trump has also nominated state Court of Appeals Judge William Ray II to fill another open seat, and the president nominated DeKalb Superior Court Judge J.P. Boulee to fill yet another vacancy. Both of their nominations are pending.

With Story taking senior status, Trump can now put four of his judges on the U.S. District Court, which also has branches in Newnan, Gainesville and Rome.

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President Donald Trump is packing the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals with conservative jurists. The court, based in Atlanta, has 12 judges and serves Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Trump has placed two new judges on the court already —Elizabeth Branch and Kevin Newsom. A third nominee, Britt Grant, is expected to be confirmed. A dispute with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is holding up her confirmation.

A former Hall County trial judge, Story was put on the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1997.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Story in 2004. (AJC File) (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Over the past two decades, Story has presided over the high-profile race discrimination case against Coca-Cola, a lawsuit that unsuccessfully tried to halt predominantly Christian prayers to open Cobb County Commission meetings, and the corruption case against former Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis.

In 2006, Story oversaw the trial against former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who was convicted of tax evasion. At sentencing, when handing down a 30-month prison term, Story told Campbell, “As the trial progressed, I was overcome, almost appalled, by the breadth of misconduct in your administration.”

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