Joyette Holmes keeps making history. She was named Cobb district attorney last June, the first female and first African American to hold that office. For the previous five years she served as Cobb chief magistrate judge, breaking traditions as the first of her race and gender in that role.
Now this outstanding public servant has reached another milestone. She has been selected as the Marietta Daily Journal’s 2019 Citizen of the Year. The award was presented at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce annual dinner Saturday, the 56th award in this series that began in 1963 to honor citizens who have made our community better through their service. The recipients over the past half-century have come from widely divergent backgrounds, professions and occupations, reflecting the good citizenship and leadership that form the foundation for Cobb’s status as a great place to live and work.
Born in Valdosta, Joyette Holmes graduated from high school there and did her undergraduate work at the University of Georgia, earning dual bachelor’s degrees in psychology and criminal justice, followed by a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She was admitted to the Georgia Bar in 2005, then entered private practice and served as a prosecutor for Cobb County Solicitor Barry Morgan. In 2013 she became an assistant district attorney for then-DA Vic Reynolds and two years later she was named Cobb chief magistrate judge, serving until her appointment as district attorney by Gov. Brian Kemp. In an unusual step, Kemp came to Cobb to administer the oath and explained why to an overflow crowd that turned out for the ceremony at Superior Court.
“I thought it was very appropriate to do the swearing-in here in a place that Joyette will be serving, in the place where her family is, where her heart is and where she has served so well,” the governor said, reflecting the esteem in which the new DA is held. That sentiment was also expressed by Judge M. Yvette Miller of the Georgia Court of Appeals — who was the first woman and first African American to serve in her position. She cited Holmes’ experience as prosecutor and assistant district attorney, combined with “a marriage of qualifications and diversity,” saying she was “the total package.”
In accepting the challenge of the job, Holmes emphasized the need for cooperation in keeping Cobb safe. “Public safety means everything to all of us,” she said. “It doesn’t happen without all of us. There’s a formula, and I understand there are groups that believe that the formula should be balanced one way or the other, but as long as we are working through that formula together, we are going to come up with the right answer.” She has committed to a balanced approach in her work, taking into custody “those people who are dangerous and who need to be away from the public,” and also “finding alternate resolutions for those who need that rehabilitation or who aren’t the people that we’re scared of but need to be rehabilitated.” This approach undergirds the district attorney’s mission of upholding law and order and keeping the people of Cobb safe while showing compassion to people who run afoul of the law and need rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
Beyond her duties as district attorney, Holmes is active in community service as a board member of MUST Ministries and the Cobb Community Foundation. She has also been selected as one of Cobb Life Magazine’s “20 Rising Stars Under 40” and a Woman of Achievement by the Cobb County NAACP. She makes her home in west Cobb with her husband, Bridges, and their two daughters.
The Marietta Daily Journal proudly salutes Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes as its 2019 Cobb County Citizen of the Year.