Last edited: February 11, 2005

Georgia’s Chief Justice to Retire

The Associated Press, February 9, 2005

ATLANTA—The chief justice of Georgia’s Supreme Court, Norman Fletcher, will retire this summer after 15 years on the court.

Fletcher, 70, announced his retirement Wednesday in his annual State of the Judiciary address to the Legislature. Fletcher has been chief justice for four years.

Gov. Sonny Perdue will appoint Fletcher’s successor. The chief justice job regularly rotates, and Justice Leah Ward Sears was already scheduled to take a four-year turn at chief justice starting June 30.

In Fletcher’s time on the court, decisions included striking down Georgia’s sodomy and fornication laws and outlawing the electric chair in state executions.

Fletcher told lawmakers that he considered his main accomplishment to be directing an overhaul of Georgia’s indigent defense system, or the method of providing lawyers for poor defendants. Fletcher pushed for and oversaw a new, statewide network of public defender offices to replace a patchwork system that Fletcher and other lawyers said led to uneven justice.

“The creation of the public defender system was a good, right and just thing,” he said. “Because the system is alive and well, I am filled with joy, a joy that will be with me the remainder of my life.”

Lawmakers gave Fletcher a standing ovation.

“We thank you sincerely for your long public service,” said Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who presided over the joint session.

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