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Friday, March 13, 2015

Holmes breaks through judicial ceiling in Cobb County, Ga.

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Holmes says Pledge of Allegiance before being sworn in as chief magistrate judge.
Joyette M. Holmes has made history by becoming the first female and the first Black chief magistrate judge on the Cobb County, Ga. bench! 

But more importantly, Joyette M. Holmes brings hope to citizens that a magistrate judge can uphold the law while still being compassionate in administering justice.

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According to Georgia's court system, chief magistrate judges manage "county courts that issue warrants, hear minor criminal offenses and civil claims involving amounts of $15,000 or less.

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The courtroom was standing room only for the swearing in ceremony.
"Magistrate court is the court of first resort for many civil disputes including: county ordinance violations, dispossessories, landlord/tenant cases, and bad checks. In criminal matters magistrates hold preliminary hearings; issue search warrants to law enforcement and also warrants for the arrest of a particular person. In some criminal matters magistrates are authorized to set bail for defendants.

"No jury trials are held in magistrate court; civil cases are often argued by the parties themselves, rather than by attorneys."

Holmes, a Valdosta, Ga. native, is now Judge Holmes. "I grew up shy," she said, but later studied psychology, criminal justice, and law. Holmes identifies with the biblical Gideon in Judges 6 who was a hero of faith.

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Some noted that all the portraits on the courtroom walls were White men which will be changed with Holmes' appointment.
In her own words, she's blessed. "I thank my mother who never said no to me," said Holmes at her swearing in ceremony attended by a standing room only crowd in Cobb's Superior Court building. "I thank God who rewards us abundantly, more than we can ever imagine."

She's a sorority woman who is qualified, poised, tall, thin, nervous, stubborn, confident, excited, compassionate, good tempered, and gracious.  She's got it all: a loving husband, two healthy girls, a good paying job, and a community network wishing her well. She claims that with the help of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., she was able to shine.

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Rev. Howard Holmes said he was in a different seat in the courtroom.
Her father-in- law, Rev. Holmes, was called to speak, and he said he felt out of place. "I haven't broken any laws, have I?" he joked, perhaps relating to the fact that Blacks are usually on the other side of the law in the courtroom.

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Holmes said her family, colleagues, and network of friends helped her, and she loves them.
Holmes gave a lot of personal information regarding her best friend - her husband - who was a good sport when he was called "Mr. Joyette Holmes." Bridges Holmes said that his wife had done what she set out to do: she become an attorney and then a judge. She will manage over 50 people. Her salary will be based on population served.

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Reynolds got to know and respect Holmes on the campaign trail in 2012.
District Attorney Vic Reynolds said Holmes will not be judged by her color or sex, but by her character. "She will be the kind of judge that you and I will be proud of," Reynolds said. "She will serve the citizens of this county well...We are proud of you. God speed."

Holmes was appointed after Chief Magistrate Frank Cox resigned citing health reasons, but he had complaints against him for abusing attorneys, defendants, and witnesses. Holmes will have to win a race in 2016 to stay in office.

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Outside proceeding, Attorney Phaedra C. Parks (l) posed with President of the State Bar,
Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker, who is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Note: Although there are several Black female judges in Cobb, there are no Black male judges. Attorney Nathan Wade has run several times, but he has not been elected.


  1. tc says: Once again Tomi, great job informing your audience, you get 5 stars for this article!!!!!

  2. Mary P says: This is good news. Thanks for sharing. I am so glad for her, and happy to see the community is behind her – I hope she is elected into the position next year also. We needed to see a positive happening like this – it is encouraging after all the prejudicial events of late.


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