Cobb County’s new Chief Magistrate Court Judge Brendan Murphy celebrated his appointment Wednesday with a Diet Coke, forgoing the traditional champagne to enjoy his win over 12 other candidates.
Murphy, 36, is expected to be sworn in at the Cobb Superior Court on July 16, leaving his three-year role as senior assistant district attorney vacant.
Speaking to the MDJ Wednesday, Murphy was grateful to the 10 Cobb Superior Court judges who chose him to lead a staff of 70 and a $4.3 million annual budget.
“I’m extremely humbled and I’m ready to hit the ground running,” he said. “I’ve got an amazing wife and family who’ve supported me from day one in my goal to serve the public in a capacity like this.”
Murphy, whose entire legal career has been in Cobb County, said his predecessor, Joyette Holmes, built a “wonderful” staff and court before becoming the Cobb district attorney at the start of the month.
“Magistrate court really is the people’s court,” he said. “It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and I want to serve the citizens of Cobb County in an efficient and friendly manner — it’s going to be a people’s service court where everyone, rich or poor, is treated with courtesy, dignity and respect.”
A former prosecutor of nine years, Murphy lives in east Cobb with his wife, Sarah, a clinical pharmacist at Northside Hospital, and their children: Therese, 7, and James, 5.
He plans to serve the rest of Holmes’ current term, ending December 2020, and will run in the May election for the following four-year term.
It will be the first time a Cobb chief magistrate judge is elected in a nonpartisan election, following an April law change signed by Gov. Brian Kemp.
Murphy supports the separation of court and politics, saying it’s important for judicial positions to be clear of party lines.
“When an individual comes before the court the only thing that should matter is the law and the facts, not politics.”
His first foray into public office, as one of three candidates in the 2016 general election for a state court judgeship, proved unsuccessful when Jane Manning won the election.
But Murphy is enthusiastic about his chances of retaining the chief magistrate role through 2024.
“If you’re focused on doing the job well, the politics will handle themselves,” he said. “I have the experience and demeanor.”
A University of Georgia graduate, Murphy started his legal career in private practice, with the Marietta firm now known as Gregory, Doyle, Calhoun & Rogers.
In October 2010, he started prosecuting at the Cobb solicitor general’s office, then moved to the county DA’s office in November 2013.
A board of trustees member for the Cobb Bar Association, Murphy is admitted to the State Bar of Georgia, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, the Supreme Court of Georgia and the Georgia Court of Appeals.
He will oversee two other full-time judges in the magistrate court and more than a dozen part-time judges. He will also assist the superior court in handling felony drug cases.
Murphy’s appointment was announced Wednesday by the Cobb Superior Court, just hours after its 10 judges met to discuss the 13 candidates for the role.
In a news release, Chief Judge Reuben Green praised Murphy’s well-rounded legal and managerial experience and temperament.
“In the last three years that he has been the senior assistant district attorney assigned to my courtroom, I have seen a man of character and integrity, a person who is patient, listens well and treats everyone with respect.”
Magistrate court responsibilities include issuing arrest warrants, holding detention, bond and probable cause hearings, temporary protection order matters, issues involving abandoned motor vehicles, bad checks, garnishments and small claims.