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Dahlonega man among 7 seeking appeals court seat
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General Election Voters Guide

Incumbent judge faces competition for state court

State appellate court

Candidates seeking the open seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals. They are seeking the nonpartisan seat currently held by Presiding Judge John H. Ruffin Jr., who is not seeking re-election to the six-year term.

Tamela L. Adkins, Lawrenceville attorney

Sara Doyle, partner in Holland & Knight law firm

Bruce M. Edenfield, Dahlonega, practices law in Atlanta

Christopher J. McFadden, Decatur attorney

Perry J. McGuire, former in-house counsel for Chick-fil-A

Michael S. Meyer von Bremen, state senator from Albany

Mike Sheffield, Lawrenceville criminal defense attorney

A Dahlonega man is among seven attorneys seeking an open seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Bruce Edenfield, 59, makes his home in Dahlonega, but has practiced law in Atlanta for 35 years.

Edenfield comes from a family with a long history of service on the judicial bench. His father, Newell Edenfield, served as a U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Georgia from 1967 until his death in 1981. A cousin, B. Avant Edenfield, is a federal judge for the Southern District of Georgia in Savannah.

"The legal profession has been good to me and my family over the years," Edenfield said. "I felt like after an active trial and appellate practice of 35 years it was time to see if I couldn’t give something back to the profession."

Running for an open statewide judicial post in Georgia is a rarity. In many cases, retiring judges step down before the end of their term, allowing the governor to make an appointment. The appointee then stands for election to a full term.

The incumbent, John H. Ruffin Jr. of Augusta, announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election, bringing a 22-year judicial career to an end.

In addition to Edenfield, the candidates are Lawrenceville attorney Tamela L. Adkins; Sara Doyle, a partner in the law firm of Holland & Knight; Decatur lawyer Christopher J. McFadden; former Chick-fil-A in-house counsel Perry J. McGuire; state Sen. Michael S. Meyer von Bremen, D-Albany; and Lawrenceville criminal defense lawyer Mike Sheffield.

The candidates face a daunting task in trying to get their campaign message out with a limited media budget in a year when presidential and congressional politics dominate the scene. With seven candidates, it is virtually assured that the appeals court race will be decided in a Dec. 2 runoff, where it could be the only race on the ballot.

Edenfield believes his experience at the trial and appellate level has prepared him for the court of appeals bench.

"Trying to get your message out in a down ballot race like this is tough and most people don’t know who the candidates are," he said. "I’ve done everything I can in traveling the state to get my message out."

Edenfield said he is planning a limited media campaign in the days prior to the Nov. 4 election.

He said that despite being overshadowed by much more visible and expensive campaigns, the race is important to voters and the state’s judicial system.

"Over 90 percent of all appeals that come from the trial courts around the state, are finally resolved in the Court of Appeals," he said.