Tadia Whitner stood before Gov. Brian Kemp, raised one hand and placed the other on a Bible and made Gwinnett County judicial history Monday.
Weeks after Kemp announced he was appointing Whitner to the Gwinnett Superior Court seat vacated by the resignation of Judge Melodie Snell Conner, he swore her in at the State Capitol as her family and friends looked on.
The historical aspect of the event comes from the fact that she will be the first black Superior Court judge in Gwinnett’s 200-year history. For Whitner, however, it was the people who supported her throughout her life that were forefront in her mind rather than the history-making nature of the proceedings.
“Thank you Gov. Kemp for allowing me to continue serving my county and the state of Georgia,” Whitner said after she was sworn in. “I especially want to thank my family, (husband) Brian (and children) Xander and Jade. They are the most supportive people. They believe in me when I don’t even believe in myself.”
The swearing in drew a high profile group of jurists, including U.S. District Court Judge William “Billy” Ray, Georgia Supreme Court justices and judges from the Georgia Court of Appeals. Several current and retired Gwinnett judges also attended the swearing in.
In addition to her legal background, Whitner served in the U.S. Air Force and the Air National Guard.
“Tadia (has brought) an invaluable leadership and legal expertise to her work as a prosecutor, private attorney and judge for the municipal and juvenile court,” Kemp told attendees at the swearing in. “It is truly an honor to appoint her to the Gwinnett judicial circuit Superior Court where I am confident the she will govern her courtroom with the utmost integrity and impartiality.”
Prior to her appointment as a superior court judge, Whitner served as a Juvenile Court judge in Gwinnett as well as Snellville’s municipal court judge.
Gwinnett State Court Judge Carla Brown introduced Whitner at the swearing in. Brown said Whitner is the daughter of an airline pilot and lived in various states while she was growing up, and later graduated from Howard University.
Several of Whitner’s sorority sisters from Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. were in attendance at the swearing in as well. As she thanked her supporters, Whitner pointed out that she was an only child, but that her sorority sisters made her feel like she had several siblings.
But the new judge said she got her inspiration to do whatever she set a goal to accomplish from her parents.
“(They) always told me from the beginning — for as long as I can remember — ‘You can do whatever you want. You want to be an astronaut? Girl, be an astronaut. You want to be president of the United States? Be president of the United States. You want to be a Superior Court judge? You can do it,’” Whitner said.