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Challenger to bid for Magistrate Court
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Phinia Aten - photo by Submitted Photo

A local trial attorney has announced her bid as a challenger for the nonpartisan Rockdale County Chief Magistrate Judge race in July 2012.

Phinea Aten, president of the newly formed NewRock Legal Society, said in a released statement that she "pledged to uphold the tenets of Magistrate Court, the gateway to our justice system, by serving as the fair, competent and committed chief judge the court not only deserves, but requires."

“For the last 13 years, I have spent thousands of hours as a trial attorney in courtrooms across Georgia fighting for justice. I am confident that my legal career demonstrates that I am strongly and uniquely qualified to fulfill the important responsibilities of Chief Judge of Rockdale County Magistrate Court and make all of Rockdale proud,” Aten said.

Aten also listed giving fair and equal treatment in the courts, being time efficient and cost effective, being technologically up-to-date, and valuing community input as priorities she would have if she were elected Magistrate Court Judge. This is her first time running for elected office.

Incumbent Chief Magistrate Court Judge Clarence "Rudy" Horne, Jr., who has been on the Magistrate bench since 1987 and Chief Magistrate Judge since 1992, has said he will be running for reelection.

Magistrate court is the first stop for cases in the Rockdale County circuit. Services include civil claims, garnishments, and abandoned motor vehicles of $15,000 or less, dispossessory writs (evictions), distress warrants, ordinance violations, issuance of bad check citations, applications for and issuance of arrest and search warrants, bad check citation and misdemeanor bad check warrant hearings, and first appearance and committal hearings.

No jury trials are held in Magistrate Court. Appeals from this court are made to the Superior and State Courts.

A native of Michigan, Aten attended Wayne State University for her undergraduate degree and Tulane University for her law degree. She moved to Atlanta in 1997 and began practicing in Georgia in 1998 in criminal defense, family law, personal injury, and immigration law. In 2002, she moved to Conyers, attracted by the excellent schools and homes. Her son, now 20 years old and in college, attended Edwards Middle School and graduated from Heritage High School.

In addition to founding the NewRock Legal Society, she chaired the Continuing Legal Education at Sea Program for the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys for almost a decade; was a mentor of the Sister2Sister Mentoring Project; and serves as Parliamentarian of the Rockdale-Newton Chapter of the Georgia Federation of Democratic Women.

She is or has been a member of the American Bar Association, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, NewRock Legal Society Gate City Bar Association, Rockdale County Bar Association, Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Clayton County Bar Association.

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