Chief Magistrate Judge Cassandra Kirk explains what drew her to law

Cassandra Kirk (Photo credit: Nick Nelson)

Cassandra Kirk is the first chief magistrate judge in Fulton County appointed by the governor. She received her bachelor’s degree from Williams College and her J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law. Kirk has more than 25 years of legal experience as a jurist, prosecutor, defense attorney, civil litigator and administrative director.

Through her work, Kirk emphasizes transparency, accountability and advocates to empower litigants. Additionally, she has spearheaded the creation of two accountability courts: Juvenile Drug Court and Misdemeanor Mental Health Court. Kirk is also a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., elder at North Avenue Presbyterian Church and sits on the board of directors of Street Grace, Star C, and Children’s Rights Southern Steering Committee.

What attracted you to the legal profession?

I was fascinated by the fact that the law is structured, yet gives hope, regardless of status, and has the power to change society.  Even now as a judge, I realize that the quality of justice depends on the quality of your information, your advocate and your judge.

When did you first develop an interest in law and justice?

Education and justice were big in our household, but I did not understand the connection until the ramifications of Brown v. Board of Education endured into our childhood and a Federal Judge forced DeKalb County to “figure out” school integration, resulting in our transfer to an M to M school.

Describe your legal experiences. What have been some of your most significant moments?

My 25-year legal career includes service as a jurist, prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, civil litigator, and administrator.  My most memorable moments involved my work as a child advocate attorney, where I provided a voice for children in foster care, often at their most vulnerable stages.

Why should the role of legal professionals be appreciated more?

Laws affect every aspect of our lives and, as such, our legal system should be transparent and accessible. Society entrusts judges to make the most important decisions affecting our community and daily lives. In order to uphold our government of laws, not of men, we must understand and participate.

Tell me whom you’d like to emulate. Who were your role models?

Without a doubt, two eras inspire and give me courage. I am captivated by the Reconstruction era Black Congressmen from the southern states, including Hiram Rhodes Revels. And, I am awed by the Brown v. Board of Education Civil Rights era attorneys: William Hastie, Charles Hamilton Houston, and Thurgood Marshall.

How has technology affected your delivery of services?

We are pleased to offer technology innovations in Fulton County Magistrate Court that increase accessibility. Some of these include electronic filing, enhanced website, Visual Information Center, pamphlets, staggered calendars, digital recording of hearings, online dispute resolution, text messaging notification and collaboration resulting in the Housing Court Assistance Clinic.

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