As I have mentioned many times, my favorite columns are the “interview columns” when I get to visit with a newly elected or appointed public servant and introduce them to the broad community. Last week, I had the honor to interview/visit with west Georgia’s newest superior court judge, Cynthia C. Adams.
Adams was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal earlier this year and sworn in as a Superior Court Judge of the Douglas Judicial Circuit.
Adams said she was “honored and humbled to have been selected to serve the citizens of Douglas County on the Superior Court bench.”
She fills the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Chief Judge Robert J. James, who served the community as a judge for decades.
In a recent interview she said, “I am following in the footsteps of an amazing jurist, the Honorable Robert J. James, and joining the ranks of two remarkable judges currently serving, Judge David Emerson and Judge Beau McClain.”
I was excited and strangely a little nervous about the interview. I have been before Judge Adams on several cases, but I really did not know her. That would quickly change after I learned about her incredible life story.
Judge Adams was born in the Bahamas. In the 1980’s, her parents, both originally from Haiti, moved their family to the states, and settled in Georgia. Judge Adams considers herself a “Georgia Girl” through and through.
At an early age that “Georgia Girl” knew she wanted to be a lawyer, and took the steps necessary to realize that dream. She took college preparatory classes, and surrounded herself with people who would help spring her forward towards her future goals.
From there, our conversation naturally shifted to a discussion about the importance of young lawyers having strong mentors. I mentioned how blessed I was to have Gerry Word and Maryellen Simmons drag me along during the early days, and she talked about her mentors, Wade Malone and Comer Yates, whom she met through her participation in the Atlanta Bar Associations’ Summer Law Internship Program at the age of sixteen. Soon after graduation from law school, Natasha Silas would join Malone and Yates as persons being ever present, providing guidance during her legal career. Her perspective on mentorship is best described by a quote she gave me from Stephen Spielberg; “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”
Moving forward, Judge Adams earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oakwood College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Early in her career, she served as a prosecutor, first in the Fulton County Solicitor’s office, and later in the DeKalb County District Attorney’s office. While at the District Attorney’s office, she was assigned to the special victims’ unit where she prosecuted crimes committed against children, such as child abuse, child molestation, and child homicide.
In early 2008, Judge Adams started her own law firm. Her areas of practice included Criminal Defense, Family Law, Juvenile Law, and Immigration Law. Judge Adams, being bilingual in Haitian Creole, recalls how her practice developed to include Immigration Law. “In 2010, Haiti, my parents’ homeland was devastated by an earthquake. At that time, I did not realize the size of the Haitian community in Georgia, but I knew people needed help understanding what this catastrophe meant for them and their families still living in Haiti.” Judge Adams explained how she helped in the aftermath of the disaster, communicating, translating, assisting, and serving the Haitian citizens in our community.
In 2010, she saw another opportunity to serve her community through the Juvenile Court. That year she met with Douglas Juvenile Court Judge Peggy Walker to discuss some issues surrounding the juvenile court, and finding out ways that she could be more involved. This relationship would prove to be important in Adams’ life because Judge Walker would later appoint Judge Adams as Judge Pro Tempore (a judge who fills in to assist another judge) in 2013.
January 31, 2017, Governor Deal appointed her, and on February 13, 2017, she was sworn in as Douglas County Superior Court judge. She says that she believes that being a judge is God’s plan for her. “It is an opportunity to have an impact and make a real difference,” she says. She went on to say, “I believe that during my interview Governor Deal recognized the determination and commitment I had to serving my community, and I was honored that he selected me for the position.”
As usual, I couldn’t stop myself from asking what qualities a good superior court judge should have. Her answer was simple and direct. “I plan to be firm, but fair to all parties and attorneys and to run an efficient courtroom in the administration of justice.” “Firm, but fair” was mentioned more than once during our visit. I don’t know many people who would disagree with that judicial approach.
She is also a student of the law. She believes in keeping up with the daily changes that take place in the appellate courts. I have valued this discipline since Chief Judge David Emerson strongly insisted that I do the same and discreetly suggested that I should always bring my laptop to court many years ago.
Adams has lived in Douglas County for fourteen years with her husband, Dwayne (also an attorney), their daughter Isabel, and son Alexander.
Her community service activities in Douglas Co. are too long to list in this column. But, she mentioned that the Douglas County Junior League and the Douglas County Chamber of Commerce are two vital organizations in west Georgia.
What was scheduled to be a one hour interview turned into an almost two hour visit. Her character, integrity, and dedication to the law will serve her and the people of west Georgia well for a long time.