Gov. Kemp Announces Appointments to Judicial Circuits and State Courts
Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced his appointments to the following judicial posts: the Honorable Ryan Hope to the State Court of Clarke County, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Ethelyn Simpson; Claire Chason and Lawton Heard to the South Georgia Judicial Circuit, filling vacancies created by the resignation of the Honorable Kevin Chason and the passage of House Bill 624; District Attorney Chris Arnt to the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Ralph Van Pelt, Jr.; Clayton Fuller to the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney vacancy created by the appointment of Chris Arnt; the Honorable Michael Hubbard to the Carroll County State Court, filling a vacancy created by appointment of the Honorable Erica Tisinger to the Superior Court of the Coweta Judicial Circuit; and Katherine Paulk to the Coffee County State Court, filling the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Robert H. Preston.
Ryan Hope has served as Judge of the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County since 2017. In this role, he sits by designation as both a State Court Judge in the State Court of Athens-Clarke County and as a Superior Court Judge assisting Chief Superior Court Judge Eric Norris. He previously served as Chief Assistant Solicitor in the Solicitor General's Office of Athens-Clarke County. Prior to that, he worked as a public defender for the UGA Legal Aid Clinic and the Western Judicial Circuit Public Defender Office. Judge Hope received his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Georgia. He is active in his community, serving as a board member for Timothy Road Elementary School PTO, board president for People Living in Recovery, and Treasurer for the Executive Committee of the Council of Municipal Court Judges. He and his wife have two children and reside in Athens.
Claire Chason is the sole practitioner at Chason Law Firm, LLC in Cairo, Georgia. Previously, she worked as an Assistant Solicitor General of the Mitchell County State Court and as an Assistant District Attorney in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit. In 1996, she and her brother, Kevin Chason, opened a law firm in Cairo and practiced law together for 12 years. After obtaining her law degree, she clerked for the Conasauga Judicial Circuit Superior Court for almost two years before accepting an associate's position at the Dalton law firm of Kinney, Kemp, Pickell, Sponcler and Joiner. Chason received her J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law and a B.B.A. from Mercer University. She is a member of Cairo First United Methodist Church, the Grady County Historical Society and the Kiwanis Club of Cairo. She and her husband, Albert, reside in Cairo.
Lawton Heard is the sole practitioner of the Heard Law Group, LLC, where he has practiced law since 2014. In this role, he manages a general practice focusing on matters related to agriculture, bankruptcy, civil litigation, criminal defense, probate and various real estate matters and transactions. He previously served as Chief Magistrate Court Judge of Grady County, where he presided over civil matters, county code violations, and felony and misdemeanor criminal bond and probable cause proceedings. Prior to that, he worked in private practice and clerked for the Honorable Wallace Cato and Richard Porter of the South Georgia Judicial Circuit after earning his law degree. Heard received his J.D. from the Florida Coastal School of Law and a B.B.A. from the University of Georgia. He and his wife have two children and reside in Camilla.
Chris Arnt serves as District Attorney for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. Previously, he served as Chief Assistant District Attorney, responsible for overseeing the other prosecutors in the circuit. Before that, he was an Assistant District Attorney. Arnt earned his J.D. from Emory University School of Law and earned an undergraduate degree from Tulane University. While attending law school, Arnt served as director of the Moot Court program and interned at the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office. Active in his community, Arnt and his wife are leaders in their church and he also served as past chair of the Catoosa County Republican Party. Arnt and his wife, Tracy, have two children and live in Ringgold.
Clayton Fuller serves as Senior Assistant District Attorney for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. He has argued cases before the Georgia Supreme Court and the state Court of Appeals. From 2018-2019, he was one of fourteen individuals selected to serve as a White House Fellow, serving in both the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Defense. Fuller is also a Major and a Deputy Staff Judge Advocate in the Tennessee and Alabama Air National Guards. He earned his J.D. from Southern Methodist University, an M.P.A. from Cornell University and a B.A. from Emory University. Fuller is also a distinguished graduate of the Air Force’s Officer Training School, a graduate of the Marine Expeditionary Warfare School, and he earned a Master’s in Military Operational Art and Science from Air University. He and his wife have two children and reside in Lookout Mountain.
Michael Hubbard currently serves as the Chief Magistrate Judge of the Carroll County Magistrate Court and the Superior Court Judge Pro Tem of the Carroll County Superior Court. Previously, he was Chief Judge for the Villa Rica Municipal Court, a defense attorney in Fulton County at his private firm, Solicitor General of the City of Villa Rica, and Assistant District Attorney for the Prosecuting Attorney's Council. While finishing his law degree, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Tallapoosa Circuit serving both Haralson and Paulding Counties. Hubbard also served in the U.S. Army and Georgia Army National Guard.
Hubbard received his J.D. from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, a B.S. in Business Administration from Mercer University, and an associates degree equivalent from the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison. He and his wife, Karen, reside in Villa Rica.
Katherine Paulk has served as Solicitor General of Coffee County since 2012. She also serves as a Solicitor for the Municipal Court of Douglas, Georgia, where she prosecutes all misdemeanor cases. Previously, she served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit and continues in this role on a part-time basis, aiding in felony cases to assist in the backlog of serious, violent offenses. She also worked as a paralegal before obtaining her law degree. Paulk earned her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law and B.B.A. from Valdosta State University. She and her family reside in Ambrose.