A Georgia appeals judge was found shot dead on Saturday in a wooded area behind his Albany home, however officials do not believe it was a homicide, according to the Associated Press (via the Washington Times).
60-year-old Judge Stephen Goss served as a Superior Court judge in Albany for approximately 20 years, after which then-Gov. Nathan Deal appointed him to serve as a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals in August 2018.
Goss brought "dignity and compassion to the delivery of justice all across this great state," said Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, who noted that he was known nationally for his work on substance abuse and mental health treatment programs.
"His legacy is as great as our sense of loss," added Melton. "Our court and this state’s judiciary express our profound condolences to the Goss family."
Gov. Brian Kemp offered his support to the Goss family.
“A native Georgian, trusted counsel, and man of integrity, Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Goss will be sorely missed by countless people across our state and nation,” Kemp said in a tweet. “The Kemp family asks God to give comfort to his loved ones, friends, and colleagues in this difficult time.”
In 2002, Goss founded Georgia’s first felony mental health court and substance abuse treatment program in Dougherty County. It was one of the early programs of its kind in the country, according to his online bio. The program assists those with felony probation or pending felony charges, many of whom have a long history with substance abuse or diagnosed mental illness. For the past decade, the Dougherty County program has been a designated learning site for mental health courts, one of only four in the nation. -Washington Times
Goss was previously chairman of the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, serving on multiple state and national committees focusing on criminal justice. He is survived by his wife Dee - a middle school humanities teacher, and their three children.
At this time no foul play is suspected.