The Atlanta Lawyer June/July 2017 - Page 23

FROM THE BENCH Chief Judges of the Magistrate Courts of Metro-Atlanta All of the Chief Judges of the Magis- trate Courts in the metro-Atlanta area are women (in alphabetical order): Chief Judge Beryl Anderson (DeKalb), Chief Judge Phinia Aten (Rockdale), Chief Judge Kristina Hammer Blum (Gwinnett), Chief Judge Susan Camp (Douglas), Chief Judge Wanda Dallas (Clayton), Chief Judge Joyette Holmes (Cobb), and Chief Judge Cassandra Kirk (Fulton). We posed the following questions to them: How did you do to position yourself to obtain this job? CJ Anderson: Although it may not have seemed so at the time, it appears that all my “roads” have led me to this job. In law school, I had an idea that I wanted to help people and worked for Atlanta Legal Aid Society (ALAS). During my six years there, my caseload included family violence cases, dispossessories, garnishments, and other proceedings over which I would eventually preside in Magistrate Court. I was appointed to serve as a part-time DeKalb Magistrate but later served as Deputy Chief of Staff for a member of the U.S. Congress. All these experiences were instrumental when I became a full-time Judge in 2005 and Chief in 2010. CJ Aten: I was not someone who dreamed of being a judge my whole life but after litigating in several ju- risdictions for almost 14 years, I came to believe that I’d garnered a level of knowledge and insight into human rela- tionships, trial skills, and legal scholar- ship that would make me “judge qual- ity.” At that point, I began to do further assessment and determined I could make a significant contribution to the judiciary and my community, by way of a judgeship, as a purveyor and edu- cator of justice. CJ Blum: I first started working with the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court when I was a Senior Assistant County At- torney assigned to represent the Court; I served as both its advocate and advisor. When I left the Law Department to go back into private practice, I was hired as a part time Magistrate in 2005. I be- came a full time Judge in 2009, and was later sworn in as the Chief Magistrate in January 2013. I learned everything I could about Magistrate Court. Along the way, I became passionate and protec- tive of the Court’s mission to provide access to justice for those who often need it most. Hard work and passion really can pay off. CJ Camp: I have been a Magistrate Judge since 1995, and the Chief Mag- istrate since 1998. Prior to that, I worked as an Assistant District Attorney before going into private practice. I was sur- prised in 1995, when then-Chief Mag- istrate Harold Lane appointed me as a Magistrate Judge. When he retired, I was appointed to the Chief’s position by the Superior Court judges. I later won a contested election for the full term. I have always enjoyed my job as a judge. There is always something interesting going on in Magistrate Court every day! CJ Dallas: For the majority of my 23 year legal career, I have worked in the court system. I was a prosecutor for a total of 10 years, and then I represented individuals as a criminal defense at- torney for three years. CJ Kirk: Prior to becoming Chief Mag- istrate, I served Fulton County as an Associate Juvenile Court Judge, where I spearheaded the establishment of Choices, Fulton County’s first Juve- nile Drug Court, which was selected to participate in a nationwide Learning Collaborative. I was the first judge in Georgia to become a certified Child Welfare Law Specialist. I served the citizens of Georgia as an Assistant Dis- trict Attorney in both the Alcovy and the Atlanta Judicial Circuits, as Director of Legal Services for the Georgia W&@77FV26fƖ7BFVfV6RGF&W2766FR7V6767FBGF"ЦWvVW&&W&W6VFrFRFW'BЦVBbf֖ǒB6G&V6W'f6W2B27WW'f6r6BGF&WvB&V7G2R&Pv&rvFW 6W'C4FW'6גvrv0v2&VVF7&V6R66W72FFPFT"v7G&FR6W'B7BV"vPFRff6Ww2V&Ɩ6FbFRFF&"766FDRDDuU #