Waller sworn in as top juvenile judge

LAWRENCEVILLE - On July 8, Judge Robert L. Waller III will realize what he called a "lifelong dream" when he takes over as Gwinnett County's new juvenile court judge.

Waller, who will replace Judge Phyllis Miller, was sworn in Wednesday by Probate Judge Jim Clarke at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center.

For the past two years, Waller has served as a county magistrate. He has spent the last three months hearing family violence cases, which he said he will miss. He leaves, though, with a blessing from Judge George F. Hutchinson III, chief magistrate.

"He called me into his office and told me to follow my heart," Waller said.

Waller boasts 24 years of legal experience, including 18 years in a judicial capacity. The former high school teacher has also worked for the Georgia Department of Human Resources' mental health and substance abuse division, and has acted as a special assistant attorney general to represent the Gwinnett Department of Family and Children's services.

Alan Mullinax said he has enjoyed working with Waller for more than 18 years and added that Waller's "unarming personality" will serve him well in his new capacity.

"This is something he's prayed for for years, and if you look at Robert, he is uniquely qualified for this position," Mullinax said.

In the past, Waller has prosecuted cases and served as an associate juvenile court judge.

In taking over his new post, Waller said he had written a speech but decided it was too self-indulgent. Instead, he thanked those - including his family - who have supported him throughout the years.

"I have a lot of people to thank," Waller said. "... it is my intention to be the kind of judge that's worthy of the trust put in me by the court and all of y'all."