By Ed Brock
The robe of a full-time judge in Clayton County Magistrate Court fits Gloria Darty Reed well.
It's honor enough apart from the fact that she is also the county's first black full-time judge.
"It feels good to me just to be sitting here on the bench," Reed said.
Reed was sworn in Jan. 20 to replace Judge Clara Bucci who recently moved to South Carolina.
"She has a tremendous wealth of experience. She had served in Magistrate Court before (as a part-time judge)," Chief Magistrate Judge Mike Baird said.
Reed, 53, has also been in private practice and for six years served as a special assistant attorney general for the Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services.
"She had been coming into our court often. We were used to working with her and we had plenty of opportunity to see her in action," Baird said. "She was a great lawyer and she's going to be a great judge."
Born in Dallas, Texas, Reed graduated from Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas and the John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. She has worked in Clayton County since 1986 and lived in Jonesboro for five years.
Some things have changed in the law since she was a part-time magistrate judge, Reed said, and she has to get used to dealing with more than just family and juvenile law issues. But after finishing hearing her own cases Reed spends her time observing her fellow judges.
"It's kind of like getting back in the saddle again," Reed said.
While issues like the high percentage of black inmates in the nation's prisons concerns her as an individual, Reed said her position "is to be fair across color lines and economic lines."
"I want everyone to feel when they come before me that they will have an opportunity for fairness and justice and respect," Reed said.
Reed served a critical role when representing her agency, said DFCS Director Cathy Ratti.
"In addition to representing us in court she also provided training (for DFCS case workers,)" Ratti said. "She would train them so they would have a level of comfort and some confidence in the courtroom."
As a fellow lawyer, Jonesboro attorney Theresa Weiner said she feels very good about having Reed on the magistrate bench.
"She's very competent, she's very efficient," Weiner said. "She was considered very seriously (for a judgeship in Clayton County Juvenile Court.)"