As Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Fulton County, Cynthia D. Wright ’75 presides over Georgia’s busiest trial court of general jurisdiction. Appointed to the Court by then Governor Zell Miller in 1996, this Golden Heart has held the position of chief judge since 2010. The Fulton Superior Court serves the county’s almost one million residents. It comprises both the Atlanta Judicial Circuit and the fifth Judicial District, Georgia’s only single-county judicial circuit and district. Since her initial appointment Cindy has been elected to four terms without opposition. Prior to assuming her judgeship on the Superior Court, she served as a judge of the State Court of Fulton County.
At the time of her election as chief judge, Cindy said her priorities would include working with the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and the State legislature to address the pressing fiscal needs of the County and the State and to develop a better working relationship with all Fulton County justice system partners. “If we join hands with each other, we can’t point fingers,” she said.
The Fulton Superior Court now operates a variety of innovative programs, including a specialized Family Court, Business Court, and Drug Court. In an Atlanta Business Chronicle article, Cindy stated that one of her objectives as chief judge of the Superior Court was to provide greater transparency and accountability to taxpayers and funders through the production of statistical data. “It is my hope that by ‘opening the books’ of the judiciary, voters will have a tool by which to measure a judge’s productivity.” She went on to say that she hoped to remove the mystery of the judiciary so that the processes are transparent “even though our robes are opaque.”
That sort of humor would not surprise Cindy’s classmates who recall her as the mastermind behind the lyrics and dialogue of the Golden Heart ‘75 STUNTS. Friends have described the history/political science major as “wickedly brilliant” and “adventurous.” Always a prodigy, Cindy entered Wesleyan after just three years of high school and graduated magna cum laude in three years as well, beginning law school at the University of Georgia in the fall of 1974. While in law school, Cindy pursued her interest in politics, public policy, and law in an internship with then Senator Sam Nunn. She also campaigned for Jimmy Carter in his winning 1976 New Hampshire presidential primary race.
Immediately following law school, Cindy served as a research assistant with the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government. From there, she joined Governor George Busbee’s staff as assistant legal counsel. At the end of Governor Busbee’s second term, Cindy entered private practice with the law firm of Troutman Sanders and later was a partner in the law firm of Corlew, Smith, and Wright. Cindy returned to the Governor’s Office in 1991 to serve as chief legal counsel for Governor Zell Miller during his first term (1991-1995). During that time she authored the legislation and constitutional amendment that established the Lottery for Education.
Lawdragon, a guide to the nation’s best lawyers and judges, selected Cindy as one of the 500 Leading Judges in America. In 2011, the Family Law Section of the Atlanta Bar Association presented her with the Families First Award. The Family Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia awarded her the 2006 Jack P. Turner Professionalism Award for “outstanding contributions and achievement” in family law. At the time, Cindy was cited as “a judge with unflinching integrity; a no-nonsense judge; a judge who loves the job of being judge; a judge who treats attorneys, parties, and witnesses with absolute respect, uncommon courtesy, and total impartiality; a judge who knows the law and applies it fairly; and a judge who allows the clients and attorneys their day in court.” Cindy was recognized by the Wesleyan College Alumnae Association in 1995 with an Alumnae Award for Distinguished Achievement in a Profession.
In spite of the accolades she has received, Cindy manages to keep things in perspective. She recalls a case years ago that involved a gentleman from India. “He actually was an attorney in India but in the United States was selling rugs. Apparently, in India they address their judges as ‘Your Lordship.’ After several days of hearing the case and constantly hearing myself referred to not as ‘Your Honor,’ but as ‘Your Lordship,’ I walked into my office at the end of a long day and my secretary told me my crown was here. I asked her several times, ‘my crown?’ I’m thinking ‘Lordship’ all the way. Finally, quite exasperated, my secretary said, ‘Your dentist called – your crown is here!’ Moral of that story: Never take your title too seriously!”