To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize Georgia’s judicial leaders who come from Hispanic heritage.
Judge Dean Carlos Bucci grew up in Marietta, Georgia. He attended Georgia Southern University and earned his law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1997. Governor Nathan Deal appointed him to the Superior Court bench, Paulding Judicial Circuit, in January 2015. Judge Bucci is proud of his Hispanic heritage. His mother, Adela, was born and raised in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Her father was a school teacher there, and her family also farmed coffee, tobacco, and other crops in the mountains near el Lago Caonillas. Judge Bucci resided in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and attended grade school there for a period, but he has spent most of his time on the island with family during summers and other visits. Judge Bucci served as a summer clerk for Judge Frank Rodriguez Garcia of the Court of Appeals of Puerto Rico during law school.
Judge Joe Diaz was appointed to the Juvenile Court bench in 2016, becoming the first Hispanic jurist in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit. A graduate of Duke University and the University of Georgia School of Law, Judge Diaz worked in private practice for approximately 24 years. His grandparents were born in Northern Spain, and immigrated to the US after living in Cuba for a period of time.
Paulding County Chief Magistrate Judge Martin Enrique Valbuena grew up in Mt. Dora, Florida. He attended Davidson College and earned his law degree from the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C. He clerked for the Colorado Supreme Court before practicing law in Dallas, Texas. He moved to Georgia in 1995, and after practicing insurance defense in Atlanta and for a small plaintiff’s firm in Austell, he opened his solo practice in Paulding County in 2001. He was appointed Chief Magistrate on September 13, 2002, and he has successfully run for election five times since then.
Judge Valbuena’s father is from a small town near Bogota, Colombia. His father, a physician, emigrated to the United States in the late 1950s. He met his wife, a registered nurse, in early 1960s. The family, including Judge Valbuena and two of his siblings, moved to Colombia for 18 months when Judge Valbuena was in preschool/kindergarten. They continued to visit family there throughout their childhood and still have family that reside in Bogota.
Judge Amanda Perez was appointed to the Cobb County Magistrate Court in July 2020. She was born in Puerto Rico, and graduated from Georgia State University, and obtained her J.D. from John Marshall Law School.
Judge Perez’s practice primarily focuses on immigration law. She also handles criminal defense and family law cases.
Judge Reynaldo Jaimes serves as Chief Clerk, assistant Judge for the Magistrate Court of Atkinson County. Judge Jaimes is the first Mexican American man to serve as a Judge in Atkinson County, and the first Mexican American Sheriff Deputy for Atkinson County. He was appointed to the court in January 2021 by Probate Judge/Chief Magistrate Judge Carol G. Durrance.
Judge Norman Cuadra has been practicing law since 1995 and has been the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court of Suwanee since 2014. Norman is the managing member of Cuadra & Patel, LLC, where the firm practices criminal law, family law, personal injury law and issues related to criminal/immigration matters.
Judge Cuadra received his Bachelor of Health Science Degree in Rehabilitative Services from the University of Florida in 1989. In 1991, Judge Cuadra obtained his Florida Department of Law Enforcement certificate and worked with the Florida Department of Corrections as Felony Probation Officer supervising a specially designated Gang-affiliated caseload. In 1995, Judge Cuadra graduated with his Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University.
Judge Cuadra has been married for 28 years and has three daughters. Mr. Cuadra is fluent in Spanish, speaks a little French and knows some sign language.