Darden Begins Turn as Cobb Chief Judge
Courtroom work is his preference, but administrative functions will 'keep the trains on time'
Cobb County State Court Judge David Darden began a two-year term as chief judge this month, replacing Judge Toby Prodgers, who served four years as chief.
"I missed one meeting," Darden joked when asked about how his colleagues came to elect him as chief. The tradtion in Cobb has been for the most senior judge who hasn't served as chief before to take a turn.
The role adds some administrative responsibilities, public appearances and meetings with other county agencies, but it will not change his court calendar. "We're not going to make any sudden changes," Darden said. "When we change chief judges here in our court, it's pretty seamless. It's not a big transition."
During Prodgers' tenure, the court faced a crisis with budget cuts—just like other parts of county and state government during the hard economy.
"We got through it," Prodgers said.
Public and administrative duties do not constitute what Darden describes as his favorite part of the job. "The part I enjoy most about being a judge is being in the courtroom," Darden said. "I like handling cases." He recognizes the necessity of the administrative side of the job. "That's how you keep the trains on time."
Darden had a general civil practice for 18 years before he ran for an open seat on the court in 2002. He's been a member of the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors since 1996. He served as president of the Cobb County Bar Association from 2000 to 2001. He's known in Marietta for creating the annual Sleighbells 5-K race that runs on the square each December. The event raises money for the Community Service Fund, which provides emergency financial support for children. He's been named "Boss of the Year" by the Cobb County Legal Secretaries Association and "Judge of the Year" by the Cobb Trial Lawyers Association. Darden is the immediate past president of the Georgia Council of State Court Judges.
He said the Cobb State Court bench is respected around the state, in part because of the work and reputation of other chief judges. Prior to Prodgers, now retired Judge Russell Carlisle served in the role. Judge Melodie Clayton preceded Carlisle.
"Taking my turn as chief judge," Darden said, "is a way to show that I appreciate how this court works."