Presiding Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard was appointed as the 73rd judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia on November 1, 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue. Prior to his appointment, Judge Dillard was in private practice with James, Bates, Pope & Spivey in Macon, serving as chairman of the firm's appellate practice group. On July 31, 2012, Judge Dillard was elected by his fellow Georgians to serve a full six-year term on the Court (2013-2018). On July 1, 2015, Judge Dillard was elected by his colleagues to serve as the Vice Chief of the Court, a position he will hold for two years.
Judge Dillard was born in Nashville, Tennessee on November 13, 1969. He attended and graduated from Hillwood High School in Nashville, Tennessee; Samford University (B.A. 1992); and the Mississippi College School of Law (J.D., cum laude, 1996). In college, Judge Dillard was a member of Sigma Chi and Omicron Delta Kappa. During law school, Judge Dillard was a member of the Moot Court Board and received the Judge Robert G. Gillespie Outstanding Achievement in Appellate Advocacy Award, as well as the American Jurisprudence Award in Appellate Advocacy. He also reactivated the Mississippi College Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, serving as its president for three years.
After graduating from law school, Judge Dillard joined the Macon law firm of Stone & Baxter, where he practiced from 1996 until 2001. In September 2001, he left private practice for a two-year period to serve as a law clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit for Judge Daniel A. Manion (who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986). In September 2003, Judge Dillard joined James Bates as of counsel, specializing in appellate practice and complex litigation. While in practice, he received an AV® Preeminent™ Peer-Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was named by Super Lawyers as one of Georgia's "rising stars."
Additionally, Judge Dillard was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue to the Judicial Nominating Commission and the Public Defender Selection Panel for the Macon Judicial Circuit. He is a member of the Speakers Bureau of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a member of the Board of Advisors of the Atlanta Lawyers Chapter, and previously served as President of the Macon Lawyers Chapter. Judge Dillard has published scholarly essays in the Encyclopedia of Civil Liberties, the Encyclopedia of Great American Judges, and the Encyclopedia of Great American Lawyers, as well as an article in the Mercer Law Review regarding the inner workings and culture of the Court of Appeals of Georgia. He was also a participating lawyer with the Criminal Justice Act Appellate Panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, handling pro bono publico appeals for indigent individuals. Judge Dillard is a member of the State Bar of Georgia's Appellate Practice Section, the Macon Bar Association, the Atlanta Bar Association, the Lawyers Club of Atlanta, the Saint Thomas More Society, the Lamar American Inn of Court, the Logan E. Bleckley American Inn of Court, the William Augustus Bootle American Inn of Court, and the Palaver Club of Macon. He also serves as the chairperson of Samford University's Atlanta Alumni Chapter.
Since joining the Court of Appeals, Judge Dillard has spoken to numerous organizations and participated in countless seminars on a wide variety of legal topics. In 2016, Judge Dillard was appointed as the Co-Chairperson of the Georgia Judicial Council's Strategic Plan Standing Committee, and as a member of the Council's Standing Committee on Technology. That same year, he was named Samford University's "Featured Alumnus" for the Howard College of Arts and Sciences. In 2015, Judge Dillard was appointed by Governor Nathan Deal to the Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission. He was also appointed that year to serve on the Georgia Judicial Council, and as the Chairperson of the Council's Court Reporting Matters Committee. In 2014, Judge Dillard was named the "State Judge of the Year" by his alma mater, the Mississippi College School of Law, for outstanding judicial service and also received the "Fastcase 50" award, which honors leaders in the world of law, scholarship, and legal technology. In 2013, Judge Dillard was awarded the Distinguished Judicial Service Award by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia, recognizing his outstanding service on the bench and commitment to improving the practice of law. In 2012, Judge Dillard was appointed to the Code of Judicial Conduct Review Committee, and he also began serving as the Special Consultant to the Georgia High School Mock Trial Committee.
Judge Dillard is married to the former Krista McDaniel, and they have three children. He is an active parishioner of Saint Joseph Catholic Church and the former president of the School Board for Saint Joseph's Catholic School.