"Even during a pandemic, love prevails"
Judge Kenya Johnson
Romance is in the air, and weddings are happening at the Fulton County courthouse in Atlanta, thanks to newly elected Fulton County Probate Judge Kenya Johnson.
Judge Johnson, who assumed office in January, will perform free wedding ceremonies from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday before Valentine’s Day at the Fulton County courthouse located at 185 Central Ave. SW, Atlanta.
The ceremonies will be private, limited guests will be allowed, and masks are required.
You might be surprised by this novel approach to bringing joy and a sense of normalcy to life during the pandemic, but this seems to be a characteristic approach for the new judge in town.
Judge Johnson’s former manager at the Fulton County Solicitor General’s office said she has done amazing work with innovative initiatives that emphasize improving people’s lives.
She has worked with Solicitor General Keith Gammage on programs like Guns Down, Heads Up, to teach young people the dangers of gun violence. Her emphasis, on both rehabilitation and accountability, focuses on giving people second chances when warranted.
Johnson organized over five youth anti-gun violence events in Fulton County High Schools, reaching more than 5,000 students. She also produced and co-hosted “Legally Speaking,” a legal talk show with the Georgia Association of black Women Attorneys.
As a probate judge, Johnson will be oversee cases presented in the probate court system. These cases deal with the administration of an estate, with the judge’s duties depending on whether a person left a last will and testament, the size of the estate, the will’s beneficiaries, and whether the will is contested.
Fulton County is a rapidly growing area, and the Probate Court will be serving an increasing number of marriages, estates and firearm applications.
Part of Johnson’s motivation to run for Probate Judge stemmed from early childhood losses, according to an article by John Ruch in Reporter Newspapers.
At the age of 25, she lost both her mother and grandmother, and there was no will. As an only child, she was forced to handle their affairs, despite dealing with her own grief, and she ended up losing the family home.
A probate judge is a civil court judge who is in charge of overseeing cases brought before the probate court system, which can include estates, competency and guardianship issues and adoptions in some jurisdictions.
When asked how she plans to implement her campaign promises, Johnson said, “I plan to fulfill my goals with Probate Court through the support of the (county) board of commissioners. They have supported my vision thus far. I look forward to working closely with them so we can improve our service delivery.”
And her reason for offering free, socially distanced weddings? “Even during a pandemic, love prevails."