12 Aug Meet Our Judges – Carol Walker-Russell
The Honorable Carol Walker-Russell
Appointed to the Court:
Bartow, DeKalb, Gordon, Jasper, Newton, Rockdale and Walton
Bachelor of Science: Criminal Justice – Georgia State University
Juris Doctorate – Georgia State University College of Law
A School Field Trip Sparks a Judicial Dream
Judge Walker-Russell’s dream of becoming a judge began during a third-grade field trip to a courthouse in downtown Atlanta. She vividly remembers walking into the courtroom and being in awe of the beautiful wooden benches and the Judge’s towering bench. “It was love at first sight,” Judge Walker-Russell said.
But it was more than just the impressiveness of the courtroom that inspired her: “When the Judge entered the courtroom and explained that his role was to help people resolve problems – something came alive within me.” According to Judge Walker-Russell, from that very moment, she knew that being a Judge was her true calling. She added, “The next day, my teacher asked the class what we wanted to be when we grew up. I immediately raised my hand and answered, ‘a Judge!’ From that day forward, I never doubted or wavered in my calling of being a Judge.”
First Job Provides Lifelong Lessons
Judge Walker-Russell’s journey to becoming a judge began a few years later when she was just 13 years old. She landed her first job helping her local community as an administrative assistant at the Atlanta Housing Authority’s office. Judge Walker-Russell attributes that experience with helping her prepare for her role as a Judge.
According to Judge Walker-Russell, “Working for the Atlanta Housing Authority was a wonderful experience and taught me how to respect people in positions of authority. I learned the importance of punctuality and reliability in the work force and to follow directions and complete assignments. I also learned the importance of positively interacting with co-workers and maintaining a pleasant attitude and disposition. Further, I learned the importance of dressing appropriately for work. All of these lessons have followed me throughout my career and have served me well as a Judge.”
Wealth of Legal & Judicial Experience
Fast forward to today, Judge Carol Walker-Russell brings an extensive and impressive legal and judicial career to the Georgia Administrative Court. Prior to joining the Court, Judge Walker-Russell served as a law clerk to a DeKalb State Court Judge; Assistant Solicitor General and Chief Assistant Solicitor General; Adjunct Professor of Litigation at Georgia State University, College of Law; State Certified Mediator; and the principal of Russell Law Office, P.C.
Judge Walker-Russell’s successful legal career led her to become a DeKalb County Recorder’s Court Judge and a DeKalb County Magistrate Judge with the designations of Superior Court and State Court Judge. Judge Walker-Russell has served as an Administrative Law Judge for Georgia’s Administrative Court for almost 20 years and has presided over thousands of disputes between members of the public and State agencies.
According to Judge Walker-Russell, “The position of Administrative Law Judge is different, challenging, and certainly rewarding. I have never been bored due to constantly researching and writing decisions on the various laws and policies that are applicable in our cases.”
Judge Walker-Russell’s circuit covers multiple counties including Bartow, DeKalb, Gordon, Jasper, Newton, Rockdale, and Walton. She enjoys engaging with everyone involved in the hearing process – courthouse staff, security personnel, and everyone who appears before her. Judge Walker-Russell said, “Everyone is so kind, professional, respectful, and welcoming to me. It is an honor to serve the citizens of Georgia.”
Committed to Upholding the Honor & Dignity of the Court
Judge Walker-Russell believes Judges should serve their communities by dedicating themselves to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the legal system. She believes in expeditiously scheduling proceedings, issuing orders and rulings, and refraining from engaging in any conduct that would adversely impact the honor and dignity of the court. Judge Walker-Russell ensures she is on time for all of her calendars and promptly issues written decisions.
Advice on How to Prepare for a Hearing
For participants appearing before her, Judge Walker-Russell encourages everyone to read the laws or policies applicable to their cases, gather and bring all the evidence they need to present their case, subpoena witnesses, and be on time. (Remember, Judge Walker-Russell is committed to starting her hearings on time.)
She also recommends, “Write out your thoughts in advance so that you can effectively state your arguments clearly before the court.” Her advice stems from her mission of ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be heard and to present their side of the story.
Judge Walker-Russell also advises that lawyers who appear before her be prepared and “appreciate my expectations of excellence from them. Great lawyers know the facts and applicable laws or policies of their case and are readily prepared to articulate them.”
Devoted to Her Local Community
Judge Walker-Russell’s dedication extends well beyond the courtroom, as she is deeply involved in her local community with multiple community organizations. Growing up in the Atlanta Bowen Homes Housing Projects shaped Judge Walker-Russell’s commitment to giving back. She said, “I fully understand the need, obligation, and duty to reach back and help those less fortunate and remain actively involved in various community service programs.”
Judge Walker-Russell regularly participates in career-day activities and “Journey to Judge Programs” to help encourage and educate elementary school, middle school, high school, and college-aged students about the road to judgeship. Further, she has served on the boards for Our House, Inc.; the State Bar of Georgia; Gate City Bar Association; the Georgia Association of Administrative Law Judges; the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys; and the DeKalb Lawyers Association.
And when Judge Walker-Russell finally takes a moment to slow down, she enjoys spending time with her family, singing, and writing poetry, short stories, and plays.