While he may not have chosen to enter retirement, the time may be just right for hard-working veteran Magistrate Judge Rudy Horne to leave public office after 20 years of public service and a 34-year career in law.
The Rockdale County magistrate judge's office has evolved under Horne’s leadership, which began when he was elected to the then part-time position in 1992. Horne ran as a Democrat back then, switching to Republican after his first term and sailing through the next four elections with no opposition. Ironically, it would be in his sixth run for office that he would fall to Democrat Phinia Aten, joining three other long-standing, Republican county officials who lost in this year’s local elections.
The silver lining may be in what Horne has gained through the loss of his position, which is evidenced by the trip he took to see his first grandchild days after the hard-fought election season. Horne had never met baby Molly, who was born in September and lives in Portland, Oregon, and he plans to be seeing a lot more of her now. He and his wife Sharon, who is retired from her 30-year teaching career, plan to spend more time with their family now that the 69-year-old won’t have to go to the office everyday for the first time since he began his law career in 1978.
“I don't know that you ever stop learning, but the more you know, the better you are at it,” Horne said this week from his office, which he is slowly, and somewhat reluctantly, clearing out before his last day on Dec. 31. “I got to meet a lot of people and help a lot of people. I felt like I was very good at it (being the magistrate judge), so I got a real sense of enjoyment. I was fair and tried to explain my reasons for doing what I did. I tried to encourage everyone to solve their own problems if they could. Our court ran very smoothly for 20 years.”
But Horne has actually been a part of the county’s magistrate court system since 1987, when Hiram Pierce was the chief magistrate judge and Horne joined the office as a deputy magistrate. Prior to that, the Atlanta native moved to Rockdale County in 1968 and opened a general practice law firm in 1978, working alongside partner Joel Habert until 2001, when the chief magistrate’s job changed from part-time to full-time and Horne left the practice.
But not everything will change for Horne when he leaves office — he will still meet what he calls his “breakfast buddies” four days a week and attend Rotary every week just as he has for many years. Though they will continue to live in Rockdale County for a least a year — because he says he doesn’t want to make any life-altering decisions just yet — the Hornes are considering spending their retirement years either in Florida or north Georgia, where his brothers live. And in the meantime, Horne is looking forward to travelling to Oregon, and often.