Magistrate Court, Chief Magistrate Judge Phinia Aten

PhiniaAtenJudge Phinia Aten is the Chief Judge of the Magistrate Court of Rockdale County.  When she was elected to this position in 2012, Judge Aten brought a distinguished track record as a trial attorney and invested community stakeholder with her.  She has served as an adjunct college professor, bar association president and executive board member of several professional and civic organizations, who spearheaded important legal education and training initiatives for lawyers and non-lawyers.  In addition, Judge Aten has traveled the globe as a guest speaker and lecturer on litigation techniques and substantive legal matters.

Judge Aten is the recipient of numerous honors, including Outstanding Citizen Recognition by the Georgia Secretary of State, 2012 Top Lawyer Recognition by On Common Ground Newspaper, the 2011 Outstanding Community Service Award from the Conyers Art Conservatory and C.J. Hicks Elementary School World Class Support Recognition, among others. 

Judge Aten earned her law degree and a certificate of sports law from Tulane University in New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Wayne State University in Detroit.  She was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 1998, and primarily handled criminal and civil litigation matters for 14 years as a private trial attorney.  Her professional and academic affiliations have included the Council of Magistrate Court Judges, Georgia Next Generation Courts Commission, Rockdale Bar Association, NewRock Legal Society, Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Gate City Bar Association, Lawyers Club of Atlanta, Atlanta Bar Association, American Bar Association, National Bar Association and Golden Key National Honors Society.

The Magistrate Court was established in 1983 by state law. This Court is a trial court with limited jurisdiction for criminal and civil matters as follows: applications for and issuance of arrest and search warrants, first appearance, bond and probable cause hearings, bench trials in county ordinance, misdemeanor bad check cases, small claims and garnishment actions of $15,000 or less, dispossessory writs (evictions), distress warrants and abandoned motor vehicle liens. Weddings are performed by the Magistrate Court and require prescheduled appointments. No jury trials are held in this court. Civil appeals from this court are made to the Superior and State Courts. Criminal convictions entered in this Court are subject to Superior Court’s review by writ of certiorari.

To learn more about the processes and procedures utilized by Magistrate Court, review this site and view our Smart Justice Educational Program available on Rockdale County’s Vimeo Channel and Comcast Cable Channel 23 programming. If you need assistance completing a small claims or dispossessory claim or answer form, the Magistrate Court Judicial Council’s Magistrate Free Forms Generatoris available for a guided experience that culminates into a completed, file ready and printable form that you can sign and file.