A Day in the Life of a Magistrate Court Judge: Judge Berryl A. Anderson

In late January 2020, JC/AOC staffer Robert Aycock visited the DeKalb County Magistrate Court to chronicle a day in the life of Chief Magistrate Judge Berryl A. Anderson. Its intended publication date was in March 2020. However, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was never published. We publish it now to offer perspective into the daily operation of a magistrate court pre-pandemic.

Judge Berryl Anderson became the Chief Magistrate of Dekalb County in 2010. Prior to this, she served for ten years as a magistrate court judge. In her role as Chief Magistrate, Judge Anderson oversees twenty-six judges and twenty staff members spread across multiple divisions. In addition to these duties, Judge Anderson is involved in numerous state and federal judicial organizations.

Chief Magistrate Judge Berryl A. Anderson, DeKalb County
A sign welcoming visitors to the Court.

Judge Anderson begins her day by checking the numerous emails that have already filled her inbox as well as checking in with numerous staff members.

Judge Anderson beginning her day at her desk.
Stuffed animals are provided to comfort children present at TPO application hearings.

By 9:00 AM, she’d begun her first calendar for the day. This one was wholly devoted to temporary protective order (TPO) compliance. Throughout the calendar, Judge Anderson reminded the citizens appearing before her of their legal requirements while also offering words of encouragement.

In between calendars, Judge Anderson provided a tour of the many offices associated with the Dekalb Magistrate Court. She took special pride in presenting the Misdemeanor Mental Health Court.  Established in 2001, it is the longest running court of its kind in Georgia.

Judge Anderson speaks with staff of the Misdemeanor Mental Health Court.
The Criminal Division of the Magistrate Court is located several miles from the main courthouse, close to the county jail.

Later in the day, Judge Anderson administered oaths of office to various county officials. She also participated in the swearing-in ceremony of Dekalb County’s newest magistrate judge, Cinque M. Axam.

Judge Anderson speaks about Judge Axam prior to his swearing-in.
L to R: Probate Judge Bedelia Hargrove and Judge Axam with Chief Magistrate Judge Anderson.

In the late Afternoon, Judge Anderson held a “Budget Vision 2020” conference with R. Javoyne Hicks, Clerk of State and Magistrate Court, and Court Administrator Troy Thompson. The purpose of this meeting was to outline various goals for improving the court in the upcoming year.

Above: Judge Anderson and Ms. Hicks close the day with budget and planning meetings with Court Administrator Thompson over the phone.