ALBANY, Ga. (AP) — An appeals judge in Georgia was found Saturday shot dead behind his Albany home, but officials do not believe it was a homicide.
Albany police were dispatched to the residence and found Judge Stephen Goss, 60, in a wooded area dead from a gunshot wound, news outlets reported.
Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards said the investigation is ongoing, but it doesn’t appear to be a homicide.
Goss was appointed by then-Gov. Nathan Deal to serve as a judge on the Court of Appeals of Georgia in August 2018. Before that, he served as a Superior Court judge in Albany for nearly 20 years.
A statement from Chief Justice Harold D. Melton said Goss brought “dignity and compassion to the delivery of justice all across this great state” and was known nationally for his work on mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.
“His legacy is as great as our sense of loss,” Melton said. “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.
Goss was a former chairman of the Council of Accountability Court Judges of Georgia and served on multiple state and national criminal justice committees.
He is survived by his wife, Dee Goss, a middle school humanities teacher, and three children.
An autopsy will be conducted, but no foul play is suspected at this time, authorities said.
This story has been corrected to fix spelling of judge’s name in last paragraph.
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