Second probate judge in Georgia dies from COVID-19; 8 others also became ill

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A second probate judge in Georgia has died from COVID-19 complications.

Judge Jon Payne of Chattooga County, Georgia, died Tuesday at age 71, report the Daily Report, the Chattanooga Times Free Press and News Channel 9. He had planned to retire at the end of the year.

Ten probate judges in Georgia have contracted COVID-19, according to The first probate judge in the state to die from the virus was Judge Nancy Stephenson of Dougherty County, who died April 1.

A third Georgia judge, Alcovy Circuit Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson Jr., died in July from an apparent heart attack after contracting COVID-19.

Probate court judges in Georgia administer wills and estates, appoint and oversee guardians and conservators, and issue marriage and weapons-carry licenses, according to the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia website.

Chattooga County is one of four counties in the Lookout Mountain Circuit. The circuit’s chief superior court judge, Judge Kristina Cook Graham, issued an order July 24 that noted an increase in COVID-19 cases and restricted in-person court proceedings to essential matters, according to

Payne has been the county’s probate judge since 1974, when he became the youngest probate judge in state history at age 25.

Our Council sends condolences to the family of Judge Jon Payne, our friend and colleague, who died this morning from…

Posted by Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia on Tuesday, August 18, 2020
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