Georgia county swears in first elected black judge

The first African-American to be elected to any countywide position in Gwinnett County, Georgia, was sworn in as a Gwinnett County State Court judge Thursday afternoon.

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Ronda Colvin-Leary, a Snellville attorney, won the seat in May. While multiple African-American judges have been appointed to serve on magistrate, juvenile and recorders courts, Colvin-Leary is the first to win an election for state court, the county's Administrative Office of the Courts confirmed after her election.

Colvin-Leary has been a member of the Georgia bar since 2001, after earning a law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law and an undergraduate degree from Auburn University. Before her election, she was the solicitor for the city of Winder and ran her own law practice in Lawrenceville for more than a decade.

Gwinnett County State Court handles civil actions, misdemeanors and traffic violations. Colvin-Leary likes the court's role in the judicial system because it can address more minor legal issues before they escalate, she told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after her election.

"I love State Court because, for me, I like to think that … if you come to State Court we can try to address it before something else major happens and you wind up in Superior Court for a more serious offense," Colvin-Leary said.

Georgia comes in at No. 19 in a new ranking of happiest states in the U.S. by WalletHub, which looked at 31 key metrics in three main categories for the study. Georgia finished No. 7 in community and environment. The state was No. 16 in work environment, finishing low in the metric of income growth. Georgia was No. 25 in emotional and physical well-being, ranking 47th in sports participation.

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