Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Shawn LaGrua to the Georgia Supreme Court on December 1, 2020. LaGrua succeeded Justice Keith Blackwell, who retired on November 18, 2020. LaGrua is Kemp’s second nominee to the nine-member supreme court.
Under Georgia law, state supreme court justices are selected through nonpartisan elections. Justices serve six-year terms. Vacancies on the court are filled through the assisted appointment method. The governor chooses an appointee from a list of candidates submitted by the judicial nominating commission.
Before her appointment to the state supreme court, LaGrua was a judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit of Georgia’s 5th Superior Court District. She joined the court in 2010. Before that, she was the inspector general for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
LaGrua earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Georgia in 1984, and received her J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law in 1987.
The Georgia Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort. As of December 10, 2020, eight judges on the court were appointed by a Republican governor, no judges were appointed by a Democratic governor, and one judge was elected.
In 2020, there have been 23 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, another occurred when a justice was not retained, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.