Fresh out of law school and awaiting his bar exam results, Tony Tarnacki has been named Dawson County's associate magistrate judge.
Appointed by Chief Magistrate-elect Lisa Thurmond, who will take office in January, Tarnacki received unanimous approval from the Superior Court Judges of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit.
A graduate of South Forsyth High School and North Georgia College & State University, Tarnacki completed his law degree over the summer at John Marshall Law School in Atlanta.
Tarnacki, who is currently employed as a juvenile investigator with the Dawson County District Attorney's Office, expects to receive the results from his bar exam on Halloween.
Tarnaki, 25, admits a judgeship so soon out of law school is unusual.
"I'm excited about being here," said Tarnacki, who moved to Dawson County from Forsyth with his parents about two years ago. "Hopefully, I'll bring a team attitude and be productive and help the county and the community as much as I can."
Fitting in with the current staff was an important consideration in choosing Tarnacki, Thurmond said.
"It was a difficult choice for me because I knew the individuals had to fit together within the dynamics of this court, but I also had to fit within the community, too," she said. "I'm very, very pleased."
Initially, Tarnacki will focus on criminal warrants and first appearance hearings. Eventually, however, he will share all criminal and civil responsibilities with Thurmond, who was elected chief magistrate on July 15.
"In the beginning, of course, I told him I wasn't going to throw him out there," Thurmond said. "I'm going to give him a chance to learn everything. We'll be able to do anything the court needs."
Tarnacki's law degree is the first for Dawson County Magistrate Court and could enable the Magistrate Court to preside over cases presently being heard in Superior Court.
"Magistrate Court is going to move forward and you'll see some good things come out of the court," Thurmond said.
"Some changes that benefit the community and the court system, and you'll see that starting in January."
On Jan. 1, Tarnacki will join the Magistrate Court staff: Thurmond, Accountant Ann Grady and Chief Clerk Jennifer Allday.
Thurmond, the county's current associate magistrate, replaces Chief Magistrate Johnny Holtzclaw, who did not seek a second term.