Rose Caplan, who is a relatively new AWER member, presented The Honorable Cassandra Kirk, Chief Magistrate Judge of Fulton County. Cassandra Kirk became a lawyer in 1994. Twenty years later, in 2014, Governor Nathan Deal appointed her Chief Magistrate Judge and tasked her with creating the newly independent Magistrate Court of Fulton County. May 2018 was the first time ever Fulton County elected its Chief Magistrate Judge and the people elected Judge Kirk in a contested election. Judge Kirk’s mission for the Court is to Inform, Engage and Empower Our Community. Prior to Magistrate Court, Judge Kirk served Fulton County as a Juvenile Court Judge, where she spearheaded its first Juvenile Drug Treatment Court. Judge Kirk’s over 25-year legal experience includes service as a jurist, prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, civil litigator, and Administrative Director.
Judge Kirk approaches her responsibilities and leads the Court with an acute understanding and awareness of the law. She also has compassion for the people served by the Court and understands life’s challenges that many face day-to-day. Further, Judge Kirk demonstrates the ability to listen carefully to those served by the Court and, as a result, understands how to make the Court more user-friendly and equitable. Additionally, she believes people need and deserve respect and ensures they receive it through her deep commitment to treating everyone who comes before the Court with dignity. Judge Kirk leads the Magistrate Court intentionally and diligently to strive to achieve civil justice for all who use its services.
Her presentation to AWER members included a discussion involving Landlord-Tenant cases and the Housing Court Assistance Center, Civil Justice Improvements for Small Claims cases, and the innovative Misdemeanor Mental Health Court which began in January 2018. To date, the MMHC has had 7 graduating classes with an 85% graduation rate. Further, Judge Kirk managed to successfully eliminate the Small Claims Court’s 30,000 case backlog in 18 months and was awarded a Grant from the National Center for State Courts. During the pandemic through May 14, 2020, the Magistrate Court will hear EWI (electronic search/arrest warrants) 24/7/365; First Appearance: 6 days a week; and, Felony Bond Hearings: 3 days a week. Also through May 14, 2020, Judge Kirk has suspended all hearings and services as follows: landlord-tenant (evictions), small claims, abandoned motor vehicles, AMC warrant applications, environmental, copy of charges, garnishments, personal property foreclosure, post-judgment hearings, Misdemeanor Mental Health jail, weddings, and trover.