Horace Johnson

Horace J. Johnson Jr., a Newton County native appointed as Superior Court judge in 2002, died Wednesday morning, July 1, 2020.

COVINGTON, Ga. — Alcovy Judicial Circuit will close the Newton County Judicial Center for a couple hours Friday to formally rename it for the late Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton and Alcovy Judicial Circuit Chief Judge John M. Ott will give brief remarks during the 11 a.m. ceremony in the Jury Empanelling Room in the building at 1132 Usher St. NW in downtown Covington.

The room has limited seating and the ceremony will be livestreamed into other courtrooms and online in a manner similar to the memorial service for Johnson in July, Ott said.

After the indoor ceremony, the event will move outdoors for the unveiling of the new name, Ott said.

Ott also ordered the building, including all offices and the Superior Court Clerk’s office, to be closed to foot traffic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The order will not affect any electronic filings in the clerk’s office, Ott’s order stated.

Johnson, a Newton County native, died on July 1, 2020, after serving as a Superior Court judge in his home county for 18 years.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners voted July 7 to name the judicial center for Johnson.

“I know it was a labor of love for him to make sure the building was met with his expectations and was completed to the standard to which he expected and I think he would be really smiling down on us,” then-Commissioner Nancy Schulz said on July 7.

Johnson grew up in the Sand Hill community of Newton County, attended Washington Street School and was among the first Black students to integrate Ficquett Elementary School.

He graduated from Emory University after attending Oxford College, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Georgia Law School.

Then-Gov. Roy Barnes appointed Johnson as Newton County’s first African American Superior Court judge in 2002.

He had been reelected without opposition weeks before his death, which came after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

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