By David Pendered
Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed an Atlanta lawyer with a record of practice in family law to fill the unexpired term of a Fulton County Superior Court judge who retired after a teen she had ordered into a mentoring program was later charged in the fatal shooting death of a wedding guest in Brookhaven.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Doris Downs, who was reelected in 2016, evidently retired with little fanfare. Deal’s statement appointing Down’s successor observed only that:
- ‘“The Honorable Rebecca Crumrine Rieder will fill the vacancy in the Atlanta Judicial Circuit created by the retirement of the Honorable Doris Downs.”
Downs had sentenced Jayden Myrick into the Visions Unlimited mentoring program for three charges related to an armed robbery committed April 15, 2015, according to Fulton County jail records.
Myrick was still in the program on July 13, when he allegedly shot Christian Broder during an attempted robbery during a wedding event at the Capital City Club. Broder later died of wounds sustained when he was shot while awaiting a ride from the club. Myrick now faces charges including murder and armed robbery, according to jail records.
Shortly after Broder’s death, his family started an online petition that calls for Downs to step down from the bench. The petition had 8,532 signatures as of Tuesday evening; the goal was 10,000 signatures.
Deal’s statement described Rieder as a partner at the law firm Hedgepeth, Heredia & Rieder, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of the South, a master’s degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Rieder is a former classroom teacher, according to her bio statement at her law firm:
- “Prior to practicing law, Becca taught middle and high school at Davidson Fine Arts School in Augusta, Georgia. She received the system nomination for the Walt Disney/McDonald’s American Teacher Award, a PTA Academic Scholarship for Summer Study with the National Holocaust Museum, and was nominated as a Sallie Mae First Year Teacher Nominee. She continues her teaching career as an adjunct professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.”
Rieder has previously been on the shortlist for appointment to the bench. In 2015, the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission included Rieder on the list of finalists it delivered to the governor to replace two posts in DeKalb County – one each on the state court and superior court. Deal didn’t choose Rieder for either post.
Now that she’s been named for the Fulton County position, Rieder’s appointment has already drawn praise from the president of the State Bar of Georgia. In an Oct. 22 letter to the editor addressed to two publications, Kenneth B. Hodges III observed in his full remarks:
- “On behalf of the State Bar of Georgia, I would like to express congratulations to Buckhead resident Rebecca Crumrine Rieder, a partner with Hedgepeth Heredia & Rieder LLC in Atlanta, on her recent appointment by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve as a Superior Court judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit, covering Fulton County.
- “Judge Rieder will be well served by her 17 years of experience in the legal profession, including service as chair of the DeKalb Bar Association and the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia.
- “With her acceptance of this appointment, Judge Rieder demonstrates her ongoing commitment to serving the public and the justice system. We wish her well in this new capacity of judicial leadership.”