A Dalton native's fast rise through the judicial system has brought him to the highest seat in the state.
Gov. Nathan Deal appointed Charlie Bethel, a former state senator and current court of appeals justice, to the Supreme Court of Georgia on Friday afternoon. Bethel, 42, will be sworn-in to the position in coming weeks.
He told the Times Free Press that he interviewed for the job with Deal on Friday morning.
"I've known the governor for a long time and have always considered him very thoughtful in his process," Bethel said. "He's done this before. He probably had an idea of what he was looking for."
He added: "(Deal) has demonstrated looking for people with a track record of being steady, consistent legal minds who follow the law. That's what I've tried to do on the Court of Appeals. My record reflects a steady jurisprudence."
Bethel's family moved to Dalton when he was 1 year old. After graduating from Dalton High School, he attended the University of Georgia both for undergraduate and law degrees. He clerked under Judge Charles Pannell Jr., of the Northern District of Georgia, and then worked at the Minor, Bell & Neal law firm in Dalton from 2003-05. He also served as an assistant solicitor in Dalton municipal court during that time.
Bethel then worked as a human resource manager at J&J Industries before voters elected him to the Dalton City Council in 2006. He served four years before a successful run for state senate as a Republican in 2010, the same year voters elected Deal. He said he and the governor worked closely together in the state capitol.
In November 2016, Deal appointed Bethel to serve on the state's court of appeals. This was his first experience on the bench.
He said Friday he was confident he was qualified for the state supreme court seat.
"I wouldn't have put my name forward if I didn't feel like I was capable of doing the job," he said. "Hopefully, my work speaks to that issue more than I would."
The appointment comes in Deal's final months in office.
In a statement, Chief Justice Harold Melton said, "Charlie is a dedicated public servant and an exceptional jurist. He will make a wonderful addition to this court."
Unlike for the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no confirmation vote from the legislature in Georgia. The state supreme court seats are also not lifetime appointments. The seats are up for statewide election every six years.
Because he is succeeding retired Justice Harris Hinds, Bethel will be up for re-election in 2020.
Deal also appointed State Rep. Christian Coomer, R-Cartersville, to fill Bethel's vacancy on the court of appeals.