CONYERS — After more than 20 years on the bench, Rockdale Chief Superior Court Judge David Irwin is stepping down.
Irwin announced his retirement in a Sept. 8 letter to Gov. Brian Kemp.
“I am filled with a mixture of joy and sadness but believe this is the appropriate time for me to retire,” Irwin wrote. “I have had a front row seat to watch some of Georgia’s finest lawyers practice their craft. I have been truly blessed by this great adventure.”
Irwin’s retirement will be effective Oct. 31. His successor will be appointed by the governor to fill the remaining 14 months of his term. Irwin said his long-time judicial assistant Susan Simons is retiring at the same time.
“I’ve had a great run,” Irwin said Tuesday. “It’s been fun. When you work in a community where you are supported by the administration, by the county, and where you have good people — I’ve had a great Clerk’s Office, the DA’s Office, the public defender, probation — everybody has done what they were supposed to do, which has made my job enjoyable. It’s the easiest job I’ve ever had with the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.”
Irwin, who practiced law for 17 years and served in the state House of Representatives, said “it was not my goal to be a judge. It just happened. I’m delighted that it happened.”
At this point in his career, Irwin noted some of his contemporaries on the bench are stepping down — Judges Eugene Benton and Sammy Ozburn in neighboring Alcovy Judicial Circuit. He also noted the death this past summer of Alcovy Circuit Judge Horace Johnson.
“It’s just the right time,” he said. “The courts are in great shape here, even though there is going to be a backlog (due to COVID-19), this circuit has done relly well.”
Irwin said he doesn’t plan to move away from Rockdale County, and he won’t take on senior judge status right away. In fact, he said, he may return to practicing law. But that will be after he’s had time to adjust to life outside the courtroom.
“Being in this job where everyone is so deferential, it can make you think you’re smarter than you are,” said Irwin with his trademark self-deprecating wit. “Let’s be honest. I need to recognize I’m not that bright. I don’t know how to say that in a sweeter way, but that’s the truth. I know I’m not as smart as sometimes I appear to be, so I need to decompress.”