Ray, Branch get Court of Appeals judgeships

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Gwinnett Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Ray and Atlanta attorney Elizabeth L. “Lisa” Branch have been appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office said Wednesday that Ray will replace Keith Blackwell, who was recently elevated to the state Supreme Court, while Branch will replace Charles Mikell, who retired early from the Court of Appeals because of health issues.

Ray’s appointment takes effect July 30 while Branch will become an appellate judge on Sept. 1.

Ray, a Superior Court judge for 10 years, has gotten high marks as a jurist because of his work in establishing Gwinnett County’s drug court. He recently stepped down as drug court judge because of his duties with the state Council of Superior Court Judges.

Ray, the nephew of former state legislator Robert Ray, was elected to three terms in the Georgia Senate before then-governor Roy Barnes appointed him to the Superior Court bench in 2002 (David Shafer won the special election to replace Ray in the Senate).

Branch is a partner at Smith, Gambrell & Russell in Atlanta, where she has focused on commercial litigation and government affairs. She worked in the George W. Bush administration as associate general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security and in the Office of Management and Budget.

Like Blackwell, Branch is an executive board member for the Atlanta chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal and political organization.

© 2012 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Billy Ray , Georgia Court of Appeals , Lisa Branch , Nathan Deal