3 on short list for state court judge

Three finalists have been recommended to fill the vacant State Court judgeship in Fayette County.

Two of the nominees come from Fayette’s magistrate court: Chief Magistrate Robert A. Ruppenthal and fellow Magistrate Jason B. Thompson; the other candidate is private practice attorney Rhonda B. Kreuziger.

Gov. Nathan Deal has the responsibility to select which of these three will become the next state court judge for Fayette County. Whomever is elected will inherit very busy trial calendars on both the criminal and civil side along with hearings for county ordinance violations.

The vacancy on the State Court bench was created in January when Gov. Deal appointed then-State Court Judge Carla McMillian to a vacant seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals. McMillian, who was originally appointed to that seat several years ago to replace the promoted W. Fletcher Sams, had just won her first Fayette election in November.

Whomever is appointed to the vacancy will be up for election in the middle of the four-year term so voters will get their chance to elect a candidate for the remaining two years.

Thompson, 37, was elected last year to a vacant seat on the Fayette County Magistrate Court. Prior to that, he served as assistant prosecutor on a part-time basis for Spalding County State Court handling misdemeanor criminal cases. Thompson also has served as a fill-in municipal court judge in Peachtree City.

In addition to serving as magistrate here, Thompson also operates his own law practice in Fayetteville, which he began in 2010 after leaving the firm of Webb, Lindsey, Wade, Taylor and Thompson in Peachtree City, where he practiced for four years.

In his application for the State Court judgeship, Thompson noted that over the past six years he has focused on criminal prosecution, general litigation and business law.

Ruppenthal, 48, has served as a magistrate for Fayette County for 12 years and has won four countywide elections to office. He also has served as a fill-in municipal court judge for the City of Fayetteville and as fill-in probate court judge for Fayette County in addition to his private law practice.

Ruppenthal also from 2004 through 2007 served as the fill-in judge for Fayette County State Court, taking the place of then-Judge W. Fletcher Sams as necessary. In that experience, Ruppenthal conducted jury and bench trials along with motion and plea hearings as well as entering orders including criminal sentences.

Kreuziger, 44, currently works in her own law firm in Fayetteville which handles criminal defense, family law and general civil litigation. From September 2002 to October 2003 and from June 2004 to June 2006, she worked as an assistant district attorney in the Fayette County District Attorney’s office, prosecuting criminal cases. Kreuziger left the DA’s office the first time for medical reasons, according to her application for the State Court judgeship.

Prior to her employment with the DA’s office, and prior to gaining her law degree, Kreuziger worked as a lab technician and client relations representative in several different capacities. Kreuziger currently works as solicitor for the municipal courts of Tyrone and Senoia.