Writing that "God has called me to a higher place," Fulton County State Court Judge Penny Brown Reynolds on Monday notified Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue that she would resign, effective Oct. 22, to embark on her new career as a television judge on "Family Court with Judge Penny."
Earlier this year, Reynolds announced her plans to seek a seat on the television bar, joining such jurists-entertainers as former Fulton Juvenile Judge Glenda Hatchett in mediating disputes between parties who agree to air their cases on the airwaves.
According to Chief Judge A.L. Thompson, Reynolds arranged to take time off this summer to tape the initial episodes of the show, which began running Monday in some markets, according to an online programming guide. TV news viewers got a quick preview of the program in July, when shooting was interrupted by an earthquake in Los Angeles that rattled the "Family Court" set, sending Reynolds, cast and crew members diving for cover.
Reynolds graduated from the Georgia State University College of Law in 1994. She then served as an assistant state attorney general; assistant DeKalb County prosecutor; executive counsel and chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Pierre Howard; and as a lawyer to then-Gov. Roy Barnes. He tapped her for the bench in 2000 in a controversial move in which he bypassed his own judicial selection committee to handpick Reynolds for the job.
In her letter to Perdue, Reynolds said she leaves with a legacy that "includes a current case docket, never having been reversed by an appellate court on any criminal matter and only reversed in a few civil matters."
She said she was proud of her work "and will never forget all that I have given to the justice system and learned during my tenure."
Thompson said that, until a new judge is appointed, Reynolds' cases will be assigned to Chief Magistrate Jay M. Roth.
Reynolds could not be reached to discuss her resignation.