Justice Robert Benham

FILE - In a July 16, 2007 file photo, Supreme Court of Georgia Justice Robert Benham presides over a hearing, in Atlanta. Justice who became the first African American to serve on the Georgia Supreme Court, plans to step down in 2020 after serving three decades on the high court., (AP Photo/Zachary D. Porter, Pool, File)

ATLANTA, GA — An icon on the Georgia Supreme Court bench presided over his last case on the Supreme Court Thursday.

According to a press release, Justice Robert Benham is retiring after nearly 36 years as a judge on the Court of Appeals, and as a justice and chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court.

“I want you to know this man is a fighter,” Chief Justice Harold Melton said, describing Justice Benham as “my friend and colleague” who was the first African-American in history appointed to the state’s highest court.

“This is the best job I ever had,” Justice Benham said. He reminded the newly sworn-in attorneys standing before him that as judges and lawyers, “We are healers. I hope you realize your role as healers.”

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Justice Benham made history when he became the first African American appointed to the state’s highest court in its more than 140 years.

A native of Cartersville, GA, he was appointed to the state Supreme Court in December 1989 by Gov. Joe Frank Harris.

Justice Benham’s retirement is effective March 1, and Governor Brian Kemp will appoint his replacement.


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