First woman magistrate for Fayette, Kathy Valencia, appointed
Local attorney Kathy Brown Valencia has been appointed to fill a vacant judgeship in Fayette County Magistrate Court.
Valencia was officially appointed Nov. 24 by Fayette County Chief Superior Court Judge Christopher C. Edwards. As one of eight attorneys who were interviewed for the position, Valencia was the unanimous recommendation of the six judges who sat in on the interviews with Edwards, including the three current magistrates and the three other Superior Court judges.
Valencia, who has been a sole practitioner for the past 10 years and previously served at Oliver, Sparger and Winkle in Jonesboro, will become the first female magistrate court judge in Fayette County history.
Edwards cited Valencia’s “personal integrity, academic credentials, law practice and her love of family and community” as some of the reasons for her appointment. He also cited her lineage as “at least a sixth generation Fayette County resident who understands our community’s values.”
Valencia said she feels the county’s three other magistrates, Bob Ruppenthal, Joe Tinsley and James White, “set a high standard and a strong tradition of excellence on the bench that I will strive to maintain.”
“I consider the judicial office to be one of public trust and I will respect that trust by serving with diligence, integrity and impartiality,” Valencia said. “When not on duty, I plan to work with young people through community groups and schools to educate our youth on how our legal system works and on how they can protect themselves in dangerous and legally-harmful situations.”
Valencia in her private practice has focused on civil matters including those of acquisition, landlord-tenant issues, contracts, tax appeals, zoning, subcontractor agreements and others. At Oliver, Sparger and Winkle she also worked cases involving health care, municipal law and eminent domain.
Valencia, prior to her legal career, served as an English teacher at Fayette County High School.
Valencia is scheduled to be sworn in at 9 a.m. Friday at the Fayette County Justice Center. She will fill the unexpired term of Ruppenthal, who was elevated to Chief Magistrate last month following the death of former Chief Magistrate Charles Floyd.