Kemp appoints Gwinnett’s first black Superior Court judge

Tadia D. Whitner, a military veteran and soon-to-be-former juvenile court judge, was appointed Tuesday to serve on Gwinnett County's Superior Court bench. SPECIAL PHOTO

Tadia D. Whitner was tapped Tuesday as Gwinnett’s newest Superior Court judge — making her the first African-American to ever take the bench for the county’s highest local court.

Whitner, a military veteran and soon-to-be-former juvenile court judge, was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to fill the vacancy left by the recent retirement of Chief Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner.

“After serving our country as a captain in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard, Tadia Whitner brought invaluable leadership and legal expertise to her work as a prosecutor, private attorney, and judge for municipal and juvenile court," Kemp said in a news release announcing the appointment.

"Now, I am honored to appoint her to the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit Superior Court where I am confident that she will govern her courtroom with the utmost integrity and impartiality."

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Whitner earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from Howard University before serving in the military. She then prosecuted cases in the U.S. Virgin Islands and in Florida before working in Savannah as both a public defender and a staff attorney for Chatham County Juvenile Court.

She opened her own law firm in Gwinnett in 2009, then served as a municipal court judge in Snellville and as a juvenile court judge for Gwinnett County.

Whitner joins a recent series of barrier-breaking officials in Gwinnett, Georgia’s most ethnically diverse county.

Last May, Ronda Colvin-Leary became the first person of color elected in any countywide Gwinnett election when she earned a seat on the local State Court bench.

In November, Ben Ku and Marlene Fosque won their elections to become the county's first Asian-American and African-American commissioners, respectively. Everton Blair Jr. became the county's first black school board member.

In January, Ramon Alvarado was sworn in as a judge for Gwinnett recorder's court, becoming the county's first Hispanic judge.

Gwinnett County will get at least one more new Superior Court judge in the coming months.

In March, the state legislature adopted a bill creating an 11th spot on the county's Superior Court bench, a move aimed at helping the court keep up with a growing caseload.

Kemp will also appoint that judge, who would start in January 2020 and be up for re-election in 2022.

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