John M. Stephenson is the Judge of Dougherty State Court after having been appointed to the position by Governor Nathan Deal in October of 2018. Stephenson, a native of Albany, Georgia, received his B.A. magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN in 1981, where he was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He received his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens, GA in 1984, graduating cum laude and after serving on the Editorial Board of the Georgia Law Review. Stephenson has been a member of the Georgia Bar since June of 1984. He joined the Albany law firm Watson, Spence, Lowe & Chambless as an associate in June of 1984 and was elected a partner effective January 1, 1989. Stephenson practiced law with Watson Spence, LLP for 31 years before being sworn in as a Judge of Dougherty Magistrate Court on June 29, 2015. As a member of the Council of Magistrate Court Judges, he served on the Rules Committee. He was sworn in by Governor Deal as Dougherty County State Court Judge at the State Capitol on November 7, 2018.
Stephenson is a graduate of the 1995-1996 Class of Leadership Albany. He is a member of the Albany Rotary Club, serving as President in 2019-2020. He is a member of the Georgia Society of the Cincinnati, serving as its Secretary. Stephenson has served as a member of the Boards of Directors of the Southwest Georgia Easter Seal Society, serving as President in 1985-1987, the Georgia Easter Seal Society, Goodwill of Southwest Georgia and the Albany Symphony Association. He served two terms on the Board of Trustees of Deerfield-Windsor School and has served on the School’s Head of School Search Committee.
Stephenson is a member of the Dougherty Circuit Bar Association, having served as President in 2010-2011. He is a former Director of the Younger Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Georgia and served as a member of the State Bar of Georgia’s Investigative Panel from 2012-2015.
Judge Stephenson is married to the Hon. Nancy Smith Stephenson, who passed away April 1, 2020, while serving as Judge of Dougherty County Probate Court. They have two adult sons, Mark and Will. Judge Stephenson attends Albany First United Methodist Church, where he has served as a Trustee and as Chair of the Permanent Endowment Committee.