Atlanta federal trial court now has three vacancies
5:34 pm, January 31st, 2013
U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. of the Northern District of Georgia began his first day as a senior judge today, creating a third vacancy on the court. Pannell assumed senior status a week after turning 67.
The judge, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, was sworn in on Dec. 1, 1999.
He spent virtually all of his first day as a senior judge on the bench.
Pannell notified the White House last year that he intended to take senior status – a form of semi-retirement in which the judges retain their full salaries but are eligible to reduce their caseloads –after he turned 67.
The “Rule of 80” permits federal judges to take senior status if their age and years of service add up to 80 or more.
A graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, Pannell served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1971 to 1972. He left the U.S. Attorney’s office for private practice with Pittman and Kinney in Dalton.
In 1976, he was elected district attorney of the Conasauga Circuit, which includes Whitfield and Murray counties. In 1979 he became a Superior Court judge for the circuit, a post he held for 20 years.
Pannell’s new status creates another vacancy on the Northern District bench. One vacancy has existed since Jan. 1, 2009; the second post has been vacant since former U.S. District Judge Beverly Martin was appointed to the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2010.
The White House had nominated U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Walker and Natasha Perdew Silas, an attorney with the Federal Defender Program in Atlanta, to fill the two open posts but withdrew both nominations at the end of 2011 after Georgia’s U.S. senators refused to lend their support to Silas.
The White House has not nominated their replacements.