Presiding Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Nels S.D. Peterson
Presiding Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, Nels S.D. Peterson was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Supreme Court of Georgia effective January 1, 2017. He was re-elected statewide for a six-year term in 2018. He previously served as a judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, to which he was appointed by Governor Deal effective January 1, 2016.
Presiding Justice Peterson graduated from Kennesaw State University with a B.S. in political science and a minor in economics. While at KSU, he served as President of Student Government and Chair of the Student Advisory Counsel to the Board of Regents, and was named KSU Student of the Year and Outstanding Senior in Political Science. Presiding Justice Peterson received his J. D. from Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he was Executive Editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Executive Vice-President of the Federalist Society, and was a finalist in the Ames Moot Court Competition.
Upon graduation from law school, Presiding Justice Peterson served as a law clerk to Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Presiding Justice Peterson then practiced at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, where he focused on securities litigation, corporate governance litigation, merger-related litigation, and appellate litigation.
Presiding Justice Peterson then moved to the Governor’s Office, where he served as Executive Counsel and Deputy Executive Counsel to Governor Sonny Perdue. In addition to his role as the Governor’s chief legal advisor, Presiding Justice Peterson also served as a senior advisor on a broad array of policy issues, including water, natural resources, education, the judiciary, and criminal justice.
At the expiration of Governor Perdue’s term, Presiding Justice Peterson moved to the Attorney General’s Office as Counsel for Legal Policy, where he oversaw major policy issues and litigation, as well as the rewrite of the state’s Open Records and Open Meetings Acts. In 2012, the Attorney General appointed Presiding Justice Peterson as Georgia’s first Solicitor General. In that position, he oversaw all of the state’s civil appellate litigation, played a lead role in all policy-related litigation, and served as a senior advisor to the Attorney General.
Presiding Justice Peterson was then appointed Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs and Secretary to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, a position he held until his appointment to the Court of Appeals.
Presiding Justice Peterson has served on numerous government and non-profit boards and committees, has received a variety of honors and awards, lives with his wife Jennifer and two children in Cobb County, and is an active member of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.