MONROE, Ga. — Gov. Brian Kemp appointed District Attorney Layla H. Zon as the newest judge in the Alcovy Circuit.

Zon will succeed Samuel D. Ozburn, who retired April 30 after 24 years as a Superior Court judge for Newton and Walton counties. He is now a senior judge.

The governor announced his choice Thursday afternoon.

“I am honored to appoint Layla to serve as a Superior Court judge of the Alcovy Judicial Circuit,” Kemp said.

“As a judge, she will prioritize the business of the court and uphold justice, fairness and decorum.”

The Judicial Nominating Commission received about a dozen names for consideration, although not all were interested in proceeding. Of those, the JNC whittled the list to two for the governor’s consideration: Zon and Loganville attorney Lori B. Duff.

Kemp conducted video interviews at the end of April.

Zon has served as the circuit’s top prosecutor since the previous district attorney, Ken Wynne, was appointed to a new seat on the Superior Court bench.

Zon is a graduate of Liberty University and the Georgia State University law school. She joined the Alcovy district attorney’s office as an assistant district attorney in 2000 and rose to the level of senior assistant district attorney in Newton County, where she lives.

Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Zon as the district attorney after he appointed Wynne as the circuit’s fifth judge in 2010.

She has prosecuted several high-profile cases, including the murder convictions of Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell, accused of killing their infant daughter, Caliyah McNabb, in Newton County in 2017; and 16-year-old Antavian Love, accused of killing Enrique Ramirez Trejo, whom he picked up at a Covington gas station in 2016.

Ozburn originally planned to serve out his term, which was to expire at year’s end. But early this year he decided to retire at the end of April, throwing the decision to the governor instead of voters.

Zon already had announced her intentions to run for the seat, but because the JNC had not chosen finalists by the time of qualifying for the 2020 primaries, Zon also qualified to run for reelection as district attorney in the Republican primary.

Kemp now will have the chance to appoint a district attorney, delaying the race to 2022. That’s when Zon will face voters for the first time as judge.

Zon is a member of the board of A Child’s Voice Child Advocacy Center, which serves Newton and Walton counties, and is the president of the District Attorneys Association of Georgia.

She is a former chair of the Newton County Community Partnership board and has been involved in Leadership Georgia and the Covington Rotary Club.

She is a member of First Baptist Church in Covington.

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