Women's History Month 2018

Each March, the achievements of women are highlighted during Women's History Month.  The Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts looks to highlight influential Women Judges in Georgia during this month.

 

Judge Hulane Evans George

Judge Hulane Evans GeorgeIn 1994, Judge Hulane Evans George was appointed to the Superior Court bench in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, the first woman to hold a judgeship in the circuit’s 187 year history.  Prior to her judicial career, Judge George was in private practice for 16 years.

During her twenty years on the bench, Judge George was a pioneer in the accountability court arena, creating the Ocmulgee Circuit’s Drug and Mental Health Courts.  The Walter F. George School of Law graduate retired in 2014 and was appointed as a senior judge.
*photo by Brandy Angel Photography


 

 

2016 Profiles

2017 Profiles

 

March 1 - Judge Adele Grubbs

Judge Adele P. Grubbs

Judge Adele GrubbsJudge Adele P. Grubbs was elected Judge of the Superior Court of Cobb County in 2000, and was re-elected 3 times without opposition. Originally from England, she obtained her law degree at Manchester University in 1966. She came to the USA in 1967 and was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1969. Prior to being appointed Juvenile Court Judge in 1996 she was a trial lawyer handling the full range of cases. She served two years as the first woman Assistant District Attorney in Cobb County. She is a member of the National Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice, was a member of the Board of Governors of the State Bar for 20 years and is Past President of the Cobb Bar.                                    

Judge Grubbs retired from the Cobb Superior Court bench in 2017, and took senior status. She now assists the Cobb Superior Court by presiding and handling all types of cases as necessary. She also serves throughout the State.

Judge Grubbs is certified to mediate in civil matters and as an arbitrator. She is also qualified to host Judicial Settlement conferences in domestic matters.

She teaches professionalism, ethics and legal issues to lawyers and judges Mock Trial debates at the College and High School levels.

In 2014 she received the 2014 Georgia Trial Lawyers Champion of Justice Award and the 2014 Community Service Award of The Woods Scholarship Committee. In 2005 she was named Marietta Citizen of the year, and was the Chief Justice Benham Community Service award recipient. She has been awarded the State Bar of Georgia Leadership Award.

March 2 - Judge Elizabeth Branch

Judge Elizabeth L. Branch

Judge Elizabeth BranchJudge Elizabeth L. Branch (Lisa) was appointed as the 77th judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia by Governor Nathan Deal, taking office on September 4, 2012.

Prior to her joining the Court of Appeals, Judge Branch was a partner in the commercial litigation department at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP in Atlanta.

Judge Branch was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1968 and was raised in Fulton County. She attended and graduated from The Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Davidson College in North Carolina (B.A., cum laude, 1990), and Emory University School of Law (J.D., with distinction,1994).

After graduating from law school, Judge Branch served as a federal law clerk to The Honorable J. Owen Forrester of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia from 1994 to 1996. Following her clerkship, Judge Branch joined Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

From 2004-2008, Judge Branch was a senior official in the Administration of President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. She served first as the Associate General Counsel for Rules and Legislation at the U. S. Department of Homeland Security and then as the Counselor to the Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the U. S. Office of Management and Budget.

Judge Branch was recently confirmed to a post on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

March 3 - Judge Dorothy Robinson

Judge Dorothy Robinson

Judge Dorothy RobinsonJudge Dorothy Robinson became the first woman appointed to a court of record in 1972 when she was appointed to the State Court of Cobb County by Gov. Jimmy Carter. In 1974, Judge Robinson was elected to retain her seat.  Six years later, the St. Louis University School of Law graduate was elected to the Superior Court of Cobb County, the first woman to sit on that court, a position she held until her retirement in 2012.

In 1980, Judge Robinson became the first woman member of the Judicial Council of Georgia. The Supreme Court of Georgia invited Judge Robinson to sit Pro Hac Vice in 1985, the first woman in its history to sit on the court for an absent Justice

March 4 - Judge Rufe McCombs

Judge Rufe McCombs

Judge Rufe McCombsJudge Rufe McCombs was Georgia’s first elected female judge without prior appointment. In 1975, Judge McCombs campaigned against three men and was elected to the Municipal Court of Columbus, the first elected female official in Muscogee County.

 A graduate of University of Georgia's Lumpkin Law School, McCombs was the only female graduate in her class of 16 in 1942.  She was elected to the state court in 1978 and elected to the superior court bench in 1982. Judge McCombs retired in 1993 and was the author of “Benched: The Memoirs of Judge Rufe McCombs."

Judge McCombs passed away in 2012 at the age of 94.

March 5 - Judge Mary Staley Clark

Judge Mary Staley Clark

Judge Mary Staley ClarkJudge Mary Staley Clark graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of West Georgia in 1975. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1978. After graduating from law school, Judge Staley Clark served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Cobb Judicial Circuit from 1978-1982. She was elected Magistrate Judge of Cobb County in 1982, and then elected State Court Judge, Division I in 1984. She was elected Judge of the Superior Court of Cobb County in 1992, and served as Chief Judge from 2005-2006. She is currently the presiding judge for the Cobb County Mental Health Court.


Judge Staley Clark is actively involved in many civic and professional organizations. She was selected to be a member of the 1996 Class of Leadership Georgia. She is co-author of Georgia Jurisprudence Family Law. She was the 2001 recipient of the Joseph T. Tuggle Professionalism Award, Family Law Section, State Bar of Georgia. She was recognized by the Cobb County Y.W.C.A as its 1994 Woman of Achievement. She was the 2014 recipient of the Cobb Schools Foundation Leaders & Legends Award. She was awarded the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Woman award in 2015. She served as president of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta 2014-2015. She served as president of the Council of Superior Court Judges 2014-2015.

March 6 - Judge Juliette W. Scales

Judge Juliette W. Scales

Judge Juliette W. ScalesJudge Juliette O. Wiltshire Scales began her judicial career as an Associate Juvenile Court Judge in the Juvenile Court of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in June of 2002.  Since 2013, she served as Presiding Judge until her January 2018 appointment as Chief Presiding Judge.

Chief Judge Scales presides over all matters that involve both delinquent, dependent and children in need of services, during her judicial terms, she has been previously designated to preside specifically over matters that also include matters referred to the Truancy Court, Peer Court, Accountability Court known as ‘HOPE’, the Family Treatment Court and Adoption petitions of children who are in the custody of the Division of Family and Children Services.

Chief Judge Scales is involved in numerous child welfare and juvenile justice organizations and committees, and currently serves as the Vice President of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges and the Executive Board.  She is a member of the Council’s Education Certification Committee, Permanency Planning Committee, and Accountability Court Committee.  Governor Deal has appointed her to serve on the Governors’ Office of Children and Families Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, where she sits on Criminal Justice Grants Committee and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Victim Compensation Board; she is a member of the Georgia Supreme Court Justice for Children Commission and a Member of the Council of Accountability Court Judges. 

Chief Judge Scales graduated magna cum laude from Hampton University, in Hampton Virginia and American University, Washington College of Law.  

 Chief Judge Scales is married to John B. Scales and the proud mother of two children. 

March 7 - Judge Nancy N. Bills

Judge Nancy N. Bills

Judge Nancy N. BillsJudge Nancy N. Bills began her public service career as an Assistant District Attorney for the Rockdale Judicial Circuit after graduating from the University of Georgia Law School in 1989. She served in this Office for over 10 years with the last 3 as the Chief Assistant District Attorney.  It was during this tenure that she began her community service as a founding member of the local domestic violence shelter, a volunteer for the Truancy Intervention Program, and the Chair of the United Way Advisory Board.

Upon leaving the District Attorney’s Office, she went into private practice with the law firm of Walker & Waldrop serving clients on a broad spectrum of civil and criminal cases.  In 2004, her desire to return to public service, lead her to run for the position of State Court Judge; she was elected and took the bench in January 2005.  Throughout her tenure, she has built a reputation for courtroom management, for utilizing her Court to set precedents and completing tasks for the good of the community. 

Some of her accomplishments since taking the bench include: starting a DUI Court in 2007, which seeks to break the cycle of addiction and the crimes that accompany it through a combination of treatment, accountability, and intense court supervision.  Judge Bills also serves as Chair of the Rockdale County Family Violence Task Force Against Family Violence.  Since 2006, the task force has been active in the community winning The Georgia Commission on Family Violence’s Task Force of the Year in 2008 and Judge Bills was named Georgia’s Task Force Member of the Year in 2011.  This focus on family violence provided the basis of her starting a Family Violence Court in 2013.  The success of this court was recognized by the Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice in his address to the 2014 General Assembly.

Judge Bills’ has also served as the President of the Rockdale Rotary Club in 2007 and her work was recognized with the Robert Stubbs II “Guardian of Ethics” Award for the Rotary International District in 2012.  Likewise the State Bar of Georgia honored her in 2010 with the prestigious Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service. The Judge was re-elected by the citizens of Rockdale County in 2008, 2012 and 2016.  She is currently the President-Elect of the State Court Judges Council.

Judge Bills lives in Conyers with her of husband of 27 years, Jeff, and they have a  23 year old daughter, Mary Dabney.

March 8 - Judge Lori B. Duff

Judge Lori B. Duff

 Judge Lori B. DuffJudge Lori B. Duff is the Judge for the Municipal Court of Loganville, and has held that position since the summer of 2015.  Judge Duff is the first female judge in the City of Loganville and is currently Walton County’s only female presiding judge.

Judge Duff is the 10th District Representative to the Council of Municipal Court Judges and was the 2016 recipient of the President’s Award.   She won this award as a result of her efforts to educate the public on legal matters through her Legalese column, which can be found at http://news.monroelocal.org/category/columns/legalese/.  Judge Duff also proudly serves on the Advisory Board for the Walton County Boys & Girls Club and on the communications committee of the Georgia Association for Women Lawyers (GAWL.)  Judge Duff is a past president of the Gwinnett chapter of GAWL, as well.

 

When not practicing law or sitting on the bench, Judge Duff has a burgeoning career as a writer.  Her humor blog can be found at http://www.loriduffwrites.com/blog. She has three books of her own, all of which were Number One Amazon bestsellers.  Her latest, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive” has won three national prizes for humor – the eLit Gold medal, the Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal, and the New Apple Official Selection. 

Judge Duff has been married to her husband, Mike Duff, a retired DeKalb County Police Officer, for 19 years.  Together they have two teenaged children, Jacob and Marin. 

March 9 - Judge Bonnie C. Oliver

Judge Bonnie C. Oliver

 Judge Bonnie Chessher OliverJudge Bonnie C. Oliver, a graduate of Shorter College, obtained her legal education at the Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University, where she received a Juris Doctor in 1981 and was admitted to the bar the same year.

Before entering private practice, Judge Oliver was general counsel for a private non-profit organization. She provided legal services to senior citizens in a 13-county area of North Georgia for four years. Over the next 13 years, Judge Oliver had a general trial practice in Gainesville, Georgia with an emphasis on personal injury litigation. In June 1998, after having practiced law for 17 years, Governor Zell Miller appointed her as Judge of the State Court of Hall County. On September 27, 1999, Governor Roy Barnes appointed her Judge of the Superior Courts of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, which includes Hall County and Dawson County.

Judge Oliver is the Administrative Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, Member of the Council of Superior Court Judges Executive Committee, and serves on the Judicial Council of Georgia.  She is also a Trustee of the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education.

Judge Oliver is an active in many organizations: Former Chair State Bar General Practice and Trial Section, former Chair Client Security Trust Fund, former Judicial Council of Georgia Workload Assessment Committee Member, former Trustee ICLE, former Vice Chair Judicial Qualifications Commission, former member State Bar Board of Governors, former member of the State Bar Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform, former vice chair of the State Bar Investigative Panel, former chair of the State Bar Committee on the Judiciary, former director YLD State Bar of Georgia.

 She is married with three children and two granddaughters; she resides in Gainesville.

March 10 - Judge Phyllis Kravitch

Judge Phyllis Kravitch

Judge Phyllis KravitchJudge Phyllis Kravitch followed her father into the practice of law. Graduating second in her class from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law in 1943, Kravitch began her legal career working with her father in Savannah. She was unable to find other employment because of her gender and sometimes because she was Jewish.

In 1976, Judge Kravitch broke the gender barrier on the superior court bench in Georgia becoming the first woman elected superior court judge in the state. Just three years later, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the federal bench on the 5th Circuit (now 11th Circuit) US Court of Appeals, the first woman appointed in the South East and only the third woman to a US Circuit judgeship.  Judge Kravtich took senior status in 1996.

March 11 - Judge Carla Wong McMillian

Judge Carla Wong McMillian

Judge Carla Wong McMillianJudge Carla Wong McMillian was appointed to the Court of Appeals of Georgia by Gov. Nathan Deal, taking office on January 24, 2013.  Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, she is the first Asian Pacific American state appellate judge ever to be appointed in the Southeast. Upon her election in May 2014, Judge McMillian became the first Asian Pacific American to be elected to a statewide office in Georgia.


Judge McMillian, a University of Georgia School of Law graduate, served as the State Court Judge for Fayette County, a position to which she was appointed by Governor Sonny Perdue in 2010.

March 12 -Judge Kathryn M. Schrader

Judge Kathryn M. Schrader

 Judge Kathryn M. SchraderThe Honorable Kathryn M. Schrader has served as a Judge of the Superior Court of Gwinnett County since 2012, after successfully winning a 5 person contested election to an open seat.  Upon her election to the bench, Judge Schrader established the second Drug Court within the Gwinnett County Superior Court.  As a Drug Court judge for the past four years, Judge Schrader has provided accountability to individuals suffering from addiction and facing charges for a criminal offense. 

In May of 2017, Judge Schrader co-sponsored and organized the first ever Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit in Gwinnet County, Georgia.  The event helped to raise awareness within the community and drew leaders from the judiciary, law enforcement, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the District Attorney's Office, the provider and non-profit community, and even former addicts.  The goal of the summit was to educate and connect people with local resources.  For her dedication to improving resources in the community to serve those struggling with substance abuse and mental health issues, Judge Schrader was recently recognized by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism of the State Bar of Georgia for her tireless community service.  Judge Schrader also received the 2017 Individual Influencer of the year award from Partnership Gwinnett.  Judge Schrader’s Drug Court recently received national attention when featured on A&E’s network show, Intervention: The Heroin Triangle.

Prior to joining the Gwinnett County Superior Court bench, Judge Schrader served as a municipal court judge and worked as a solo practitioner in her own law firm, Kathryn M. Schrader, P.C.  Throughout her career, Judge Schrader has distinguished herself with a record of outstanding community service, volunteerism, and leadership in a wide variety of organizations.  Judge Schrader currently serves as an advisor to the Central Gwinnett High School Legal Academy and is also a member of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and of Leadership Gwinnett.  Judge Schrader’s previous service includes Coach for the Greater Atlanta Christian School Mock Trial team, Tiger Club Leader and Wolf Assistant Leader with the Boy Scouts of America; Daisy Troop Leader, Brownie Troop Leader, and Junior Girl Scout Leader with the Girl Scouts of America; Sunday School Teacher at John Creek United Methodist Church and Prospect United Methodist Church; and Coach for Recreation Cheerleading and Recreation Softball at Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation.

Judge Schrader earned her J.D. degree from the Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University in 1987 and her A.B. degree in Global Political Science from the University of Georgia in 1980.  She is married to Richard Lawrence Schrader and they have three children.

March 13 - Judge Britt C. Grant

Justice Britt C. Grant

 Justice Britt GrantJustice Britt C. Grant, an Atlanta native, was appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia on January 1, 2017 by Governor Nathan Deal.  She graduated from the Westminster Schools in Atlanta and Wake Forest University.

After graduating, Justice Grant worked in the Washington, D.C. office of then-Congressman Nathan Deal. Shortly before September 11, 2001, she began serving in the White House under President George W. Bush.

Justice Grant attended Stanford Law School, where she served as President of the Stanford Federalist Society, co-Founder and co-President of the Stanford National Security and the Law Society, and managing editor of the Stanford Journal of International Law. Justice Grant graduated from Stanford Law School “with distinction.”

Following her graduation from law school, Justice Grant served as a law clerk to the Honorable Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  She then practiced at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington, D.C.

In 2012, Justice Grant began service in the Office of the Georgia Attorney General as Counsel for Legal Policy. She was appointed Solicitor General in January of 2015, making her the chief appellate lawyer for the State of Georgia and the primary constitutional law advisor to the Attorney General. She represented the State in water litigation and other cases before the United States Supreme Court, and in a range of other appellate matters before the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the federal Courts of Appeals.

Justice Grant has been active in a number of professional and legal policy organizations. She is a member of the American Law Institute and of the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court, as well as the Emory University Board of Visitors. She serves on the Federalism & Separation of Powers Executive Committee of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, and as a member of the Executive Board of the Atlanta Chapter of the Society. She is also a member of the State Bar of Georgia, and of the Appellate Practice Section of the State Bar. Justice Grant currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and their three children.

March 14 - Judge Rizza O'Connor

Judge Rizza O'Connor

Judge Rizza O'ConnorJudge Rizza O'Connor is the Chief Magistrate Judge of Toombs County and the first Filipino-American judge in Georgia. Prior to her appointment as magistrate in November of 2013, she worked as an assistant district attorney in the Middle Judicial Circuit and in the Eastern Judicial Circuit.



O'Connor, a Savannah native, graduated from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University in 2010 where she served as the Student Bar Association President. She graduated cum laude from Mercer University, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Business Management.



Judge O'Connor currently serves as the Secretary of the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia. She also serves the Bar as a member of the Client Security Fund Board of Trustees and is an At-Large Trustee for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. Judge O'Connor has been a speaker for continuing legal education for magistrate judges and is a contributor to the updated Georgia Magistrate Courts Benchbook.

March 15 - Judge Jane Morrison

Judge Jane Morrison

Judge Jane MorrisonJudge Jane Morrison was elected to the Fulton County State Court in 2012. Prior to her election, Judge Morrison practiced law in Atlanta for more than 18 years. Her judicial career began in 2000 when she was appointed as Judge Pro Hac Vice of Atlanta Municipal Court.  She served in that capacity through 2002, presiding over probable cause hearings and conducting trials of municipal code violations. Judge Morrison also served as a Part Time Magistrate in Fulton County from 2003 to 2005 where she heard cases including Landlord Tenant issues and Small Claims disputes.

Judge Morrison received her Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law in 1994 and her Bachelor of Arts in History from Boston University in 1987.  She is a graduate of the 2001 class of Leadership Atlanta and has served as the President of the Studioplex Business Guild and as a board member of the Historic District Development Authority (M.L. King Historic District).

March 16 - Judge Sarah S. Harris

Judge Sarah S. Harris

 Judge Sarah S. HarrisJudge Sarah S. Harris is the Chief Judge of the Bibb County Probate Court.  Judge Harris was elected the Probate judge in 2013 and she is the first female judge for the Bibb County Probate Court.  She is the President Elect for the Council of Probate Court Judges and serves as a member of the Judicial Council of Georgia.  Since taking the bench, Judge Harris has focused much of her time and energy on bring awareness to mental health issues and treatment and bridging communication between courts, agencies and other areas relating to children, the elderly and mental health.

Prior to being elected the Probate Judge in Bibb County in 2013, Judge Harris was a practicing attorney and partner with the firm of Harris and James, LLC, located in Macon, Georgia from 1991-2012. Her practice area was elder law, primarily litigation in estates and guardianship/conservatorship.

Judge Harris graduated from Appalachian State University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government.  Judge Harris then graduated from Mercer University School of Law with her J.D. in 1986.  Judge Harris was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 1986. 

Judge Harris is married to Bill Harris, who is also an attorney and they have three children.  She uses her judicial skills at home, navigating the rivalries between her children who attend or are graduates of– Auburn, Georgia Tech and of course UGA.

March 17 - Justice Carol W. Hunstein

Justice Carol W. Hunstein

Justice Carol W. HunsteinJustice Carol W. Hunstein was elected to the Superior Court of DeKalb County (Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit) in 1984, a position she held for eight years. As a superior court judge, Justice Hunstein chaired the Georgia Commission on Gender Bias in the Judicial System and was the first woman to serve as President of the Council of Superior Court Judges.


In 1992, Gov. Zell Miller appointed the Stetson University College of Law graduate to the Supreme Court of Georgia, the second woman in history to serve as a permanent member of the Court. From 2009 to 2013, Justice Hunstein served as Chief Justice.  During her tenure on the Supreme Court, she has served as chair of the State Commission on Child Support, the Georgia Commission on Access and Fairness, the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Reform, and the Georgia Commission on Interpreters.

March 18 - Judge Geronda V. Carter

Judge Geronda V. Carter

Judge Geronda CarterIn 2007, Judge Geronda V. Carter joined the superior court bench of the Clayton Judicial Circuit as the circuit’s first African American Superior Court Judge.  Previous to her election as superior court judge, she served as the presiding Magistrate Court Judge for Clayton County.   A magna cum laude graduate of Spelman College, Judge Carter earned her juris doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law. 

 

Prior to her judicial service, Judge Carter’s professional legal experience included working as an associate with a private law firm, serving as Special Assistant United States Attorney for the North District of Georgia and Assistant Regional Attorney with the Social Security Administration. 

 

Judge Carter began her legal teaching career in 1997 at John Marshall School of Law and served as an Adjunct Professor at Clayton State University for nearly a decade.



She has been the recipient of an NAACP Outstanding Achievement Award, the National Black Herstory Task Force’s Lucy Terry Prince Award, and the Nu Lambda Delta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Pink Pearl Mother & Daughter Honor.  Judge Carter received a Distinguished Service Award for Public Service and Human Rights from the Atlanta Club of Frontiers International, Inc.

March 19 - Judge Phinia Aten

Judge Phinia Aten

Judge Phinia AtenJudge Phinia Aten is the Chief Magistrate Judge of the Magistrate Court of Rockdale County.  She became the first African-American female judge in Rockdale County’s history when elected in 2012.  Judge Aten was re-elected in 2016, to serve a second four-year term.  Her tenure has meant increased court-to-community engagement and innovative educational opportunities, such as her innovative televised and video program, the Smart Justice Series, which provides general procedural information to the public about the Magistrate Court’s jurisdictional matters, annual youth law camp for middle and high school students interested in the law-related professions, and Just Art Competition and Exhibition, a unique Law Day opportunity, which  provides local adult and youth artists with to broaden the breadth and depth of our cultural and intellectual public discourse on issues of justice and liberty while fostering civic pride and connection through the beautification of public spaces.  In addition, Judge Aten implemented the Court’s use of evidence-based court tools such as family violence and behavioral health assessments and mental health stabilization protocols that have helped the Rockdale Judicial Circuit experience a 13 percent recidivist reduction rate from 2013 to present.   

Judge Phinia Aten earned her law degree and a certificate of sports law from Tulane University in New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Wayne State University in Detroit.  She was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1998, and as former lead counsel in several high-visibility cases, garnered scores of headlines and media interviews and a reputation as a tenacious and seasoned litigator.  As a result of her trial experience, legal scholarship and engaged style, Aten is a frequent guest speaker and lecturer on litigation techniques, substantive legal topics, leadership and inspirational matters.  From 2004-2012, Judge Aten was the founder and  chair of the Continuing Legal Education at Sea Program for the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA),which organizing professional legal conferences in a host of countries, including Haiti, Belize, Egypt and Brazil and others.  In addition, she is a former adjunct professor of Herzing University’s Atlanta campus where she taught business law, critical thinking, speech and career development.
 
She is the recipient of numerous honors, including the 2016 Servant Leadership Award from the Georgia Women Legislative Caucus, 2016 Pinnacle Leadership Award from the Fortitude Educational and Cultural Development Center, Inc., 2015 Dorothy Irene Height Trailblazer Award from the National Council of Negro Women, Rockdale-Newton Chapter, 2015 Outstanding Community Service Award from the Georgia Mentorship Program, Leadership Rockdale 2015 Alumna, 2012 Top Lawyer Recognition by On Common Ground Newspaper, and 2011 Luminary Business Leadership Award from the Rockdale-Newton Chapter of the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women among others. 

March 20 - Judge Amy Totenberg

Judge Amy Totenberg

Judge Amy TotenbergJudge Amy Totenberg was appointed to the United State District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by Pres. Barrack Obama in 2011. From 1994 to 1998, Judge Totenberg was the first in-house general counsel for the Atlanta school system. She was a part-time Atlanta Municipal Court judge from 1988 to 1993 while working as a private attorney.

From 1998 until becoming a federal judge in 2011, Totenberg had served as a sole legal practitioner and arbitrator in Atlanta, working part-time as a special master and court monitor for several United States district courts, she also worked from 2004 until 2007 as an adjunct professor at the Emory University School of Law.

Judge Totenberg graduated from Harvard Law School in 1977.

March 21 - Judge Pat Hardaway

Judge Pat Hardaway

Judge Pat HardawayJudge Pat Hardaway spent 47 years working for the people of Columbia County.  First elected to the Office of Probate Judge in 1980, Judge Hardaway held that position until the time of her death in 2011, having run unopposed in ensuing elections. She was a member of the County Officers Association of Georgia and the National Probate Judges Council holding numerous leadership offices in each. Judge Hardaway served as Secretary/Treasurer for the Council of Probate Court Judges for many years.


Judge Hardaway was Columbia County’s longest-serving county official.In 2012, two portraits of Judge Hardaway were hung in Columbia County, one inside the Probate Court office and the other in the Columbia County Courthouse. Also in 2012, she was posthumously honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.

March 22 - Judge Sylvia Huskins

Judge Sylvia Huskins

Judge Sylvia HuskinsJudge Sylvia Huskins graduated from West Georgia College with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1968 and her Masters in Education in 1971. She taught elementary and middle school for 12 years. In 1985, she received her Juris Doctorate from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.

She practiced law in Eatonton, maintaining a busy Real Estate and Probate practice and handled countless adoptions, with her husband Don. She served for 15 years as the Senior Magistrate Judge in the Magistrate Court of Putnam County until her death in 2006.

March 23 - Judge Orinda D. Evans

Judge Orinda D. Evans

Judge Orinda D. EvansJudge Orinda D. Evans, a graduate of Emory University School of Law, was in private practice from 1968 to 1979 and served as an adjunct professor of law at her alma mater from 1974-1977. 

President Jimmy Carter nominated Judge Evans to a vacant seat on the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Georgia in 1979. Not only was she the first woman appointed to that court, she became its first female chief judge in 1999. Judge Evans assumed senior status in 2008.

March 24 - Judge Linda Warren Hunter

Judge Linda Warren Hunter

Judge Linda Warren HunterJudge Linda Warren Hunter is a trailblazer who has made history by paving the way for women and African Americans.



In 1987, Judge Hunter became the first African American trial judge appointed or elected to a trial court of record in the history of DeKalb County, GA when she was appointed to the DeKalb County State Court bench by Governor Joe Frank Harris.
 


In 1991, Judge Hunter again made history when Governor Zell Miller appointed her as the first African American female to serve on the DeKalb County Superior Court bench. Judge Hunter also has the distinction of being the first female to ever serve as Chief and Administrative Judge of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit.

Additionally, prior to becoming a judge, Judge Hunter served as the first African American female DeKalb County Assistant Solicitor and DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney.
 


Judge Hunter has served on the Governor’s Conference on Justice in Georgia, Georgia’s Commission on Certainty in Sentencing, and the Council of Superior Court Judges’ Gender/Racial/Ethnic Fairness in the Courts Committee. Judge Hunter has also been actively involved in the DeKalb County community by serving on the Boards of Directors of The Georgia Center for Children, Our House, Inc., Scottdale Child Development Center, Inc., and the DeKalb County Rape Crisis Task Force.
 


Judge Hunter is an honors graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and the University of Georgia School of Law.

March 25 - Judge Stephanie Burton

Judge Stephanie Burton

Judge Stephanie BurtonJudge Stephanie Burton, Juvenile Court, Oconee Judicial Circuit, is a 1998 graduate of the University of Georgia and a 2001 graduate of Mercer University Law School.  After law school, she clerked for Chief Judge Phillip R. West and Judge H. Frederick Mullis, Jr. of the Oconee Judicial Circuit Superior Court. 

 After the clerkship, she remained in Eastman and was an Assistant Public Defender for the next 12 years.  Judge Burton was appointed the first full-time Juvenile Court Judge for the Oconee Judicial Circuit on October 1, 2016.

March 26 - Judge Lillis Brown

Judge Lillis Brown

Judge Lillis BrownJudge Lillis Brown began her career in Rockdale County in the District Attorney's Office in 1981 while Rockdale was still part of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. She was the first investigator for the DA's Office. She later served as clerk of Magistrate Court and was appointed as an assistant Magistrate Court judge. She was elected Probate Court judge in 1992.  Judge Brown is the first female judge both appointed and elected in Rockdale County.


Judge Brown is a past president of the Council of Probate Court Judges, past chair for the Probate Judges Training Council, a 2002 graduate of the National Judicial Leadership Program for Judges and was selected as Probate Judge of the Year for the state of Georgia in 2010. She also served on the Judicial Council for Georgia and on the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education board.  Judge Brown was appointed senior judge in 2013.

March 27 - Judge Ruby K. Sirmans

Judge Ruby K. Sirmans

Judge Ruby K. SirmansJudge Ruby K. Sirmans began her career in Lowndes County Probate Court as a deputy clerk in July 1961 under the late Judge T.N. Holcombe Jr. She was promoted to chief clerk in January 1980. Upon Holcombe’s retirement in August 1991, Sirmans became the first female Judge of the Lowndes County Probate Court. She continued in that role until her retirement in 2009.

Judge Sirmans was an active member of local and state-wide activities including the North Valdosta Rotary Club and the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. She also served on the forms committee of the Council of Probate Court Judges, Valdosta Junior Service League, Valdosta Women’s Bowling Association and the Diabetes Youth Program.

March 28 - Judge Alma Young Tuff

Judge Alma Young Tuff

Judge Alma Young TuffJudge Alma Young Tuff was elected the first African American Chief Magistrate Judge in Burke County in 1996.  She serving from January 1, 1997 thru December 31, 2000.

In 2016, the Burke County Improvement Association celebrated Judge Tuff with its 2016 African American Heritage Trailblazer Award, an award given to a Burke County citizen who became an outstanding significant first in history.

 

March 29 - Judge Amanda N. Heath

Judge Amanda N. Heath

Judge Amanda HeathJudge Amanda N. Heath, Juvenile Court, Augusta Judicial Circuit, was appointed for a four-year term effective October 1, 2016.  Judge Heath is the first African American female judge to serve in this position and is the youngest sitting judge in the Augusta Judicial Circuit. Judge Heath was previously a solo practitioner in private practice with a focus on criminal law and family law.

Judge Heath attended Hampton University for her undergraduate studies and Mercer University Walter F. George School of Law and received her Juris Doctorate degree in May 2010.

Before opening her own law practice, Judge Heath served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Augusta Judicial Circuit where she gained her trial experience in prosecuting felonies throughout Burke, Columbia and Richmond counties.  Judge Heath handled violent felony cases involving multiple co-defendants.  Judge Heath has argued successfully before the Georgia Supreme Court.

March 30 = Judge Beverly Martin

Judge Beverly Martin

Judge Beverly MartinJudge Beverly Martin has been a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit since January 2010. Before that, she served for 10 years as a federal district judge in the Northern District of Georgia. She was the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia from 1997 to 2000.

Prior to her appointments, Judge Martin was in private practice with Martin Snow LLP in Georgia from 1981 to 1984, and was an assistant attorney general in the State Law Department of the Office of Attorney General of Georgia from 1984 to 1994. She was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia from 1994 to 1997. Judge Martin is a graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law.

 

March 31- Judge Hulane Evans George

Judge Hulane Evans George

Judge Hulane Evans GeorgeIn 1994, Judge Hulane Evans George was appointed to the Superior Court bench in the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit, the first woman to hold a judgeship in the circuit’s 187 year history.  Prior to her judicial career, Judge George was in private practice for 16 years.

During her twenty years on the bench, Judge George was a pioneer in the accountability court arena, creating the Ocmulgee Circuit’s Drug and Mental Health Courts.  The Walter F. George School of Law graduate retired in 2014 and was appointed as a senior judge.
*photo by Brandy Angel Photography