Melynee Leftridge Harris

Melynee Leftridge Harris.

Occupation: Fulton County Magistrate Court Judge since 2010; part time Fulton County Magistrate Court Judge from 2007 to 2010.

Previous elected offices held: None.

Other community service experience: Board of Directors-Covenant Community, Incorporated (a ministry of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta); Former Board of Directors, Southside Medical Center; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Atlanta Alumnae Chapter; Chums, Inc., panel discussions on Human Trafficking, CyberBullying and Domestic Violence, and I established and lead our annual pajama drive for homeless children; Just the Beginning Foundation’s  “Robes in Schools” program; Perkerson Elementary School 3rd Grade Reading Program; Atlanta alumnae of Spelman College collected laundry detergent for seniors and participated in filling purses with toiletries for students in need; “Mock Trial” competition judge for students interested in becoming lawyers; Clark Atlanta University Guild.

What is motivating you to run for this office?

As our next Superior Court judge, I am committed to making our neighborhoods safer and ensuring victims of crime have an opportunity to be acknowledged and heard in court. Additionally, I believe people who come to court are entitled to have their cases heard (and their concerns thoroughly and responsibly addressed) by a judge who will follow the law and interact with them professionally and respectfully. Judges are  “servant leaders.” I recognize that being a judge is to be in service to our community.

What is the biggest issue facing the court system and how will you address it?

As a result of the release of non-violent detainees from our jails, due to the pandemic, and the slowdown of our judicial system brought on by the need to “socially distance,” our court system will be facing an unprecedented backlog when life gets back to normal. As a Superior Court judge, I will be implementing several processes to ensure we efficiently dispose of our stalled cases, including entering case management orders requiring cases be addressed on a shorter schedule. I will stay in the office as late as it takes to ensure we remain on schedule.

What strengths and weaknesses have the coronavirus pandemic crisis revealed in the court system?

The international pandemic that has, in large part, shut down our county court system has caused us to quickly rely on technological solutions, as we cannot move forward using traditional means of handling cases. Judges are presiding over essential court matters over the computer system, as are many other entities/businesses. This is progressive movement and it has significant value. The pandemic is an unprecedented event, leaving little to no opportunity to have implemented a court system “Plan B,” the result of which is early release of non-violent detainees from custody and case backlog.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.