Our Hometown Girl All Grown UP, Judge Kathryn ‘Katie’ Powers

Article by · June 4, 2020

The people who inspire me are really a group of people, not

one specific individual. When someone is charged with a felony, or

is the victim of a violent felony, that oftentimes is the worst and most

stressful moment in their lives. Despite that moment in time, the

individuals that I encounter–whether victims or defendants–and

their families exhibit a kind of grace and resiliency that you can only

admire,” expresses State Court Judge Kathryn “Katie” L. Powers. “If

I am able to exhibit a quarter of the grace under pressure that I see

those individuals exhibit daily, then I will consider myself to be in

good company.”

Equally important is the bastion of family, friends, and neighbors

from whom this lifelong resident has also drawn inspiration. “The

best part of being born and raised here is the sense of community

that existed, and still exists today,” says Powers, which makes her recent

appointment to the bench all the more meaningful. “[This] is

the only place that I have worked following law school and I consider

myself extremely lucky to have been granted the opportunity to

serve and practice law in my hometown.”

After graduating from Jonesboro High School ( JHS) Katie attended

Georgia State University, where she attained her bachelor’s

degree in political science and government. She went on to earn her

juris doctor from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of

Law and immediately rekindled her love affair with Clayton County–

this time from a professional standpoint. After working as an assistant

district attorney in government she was elevated to Deputy

Chief Assistant District Attorney, where she prosecuted multiple

sex crime trials on behalf of the State, and acted as sole legal counsel

on all child murder cases.

“I distinctly remember a trial that I had concerning the murder

of a one-year-old child at the hands of her father, because there was

no one there to represent the child from her family. Instead, her

only advocate was the director of the day care she attended,” Judge

Powers recalls. “To stand for that little girl when it seemed that very

few people wanted to is one of my greatest accomplishments. That

trial reinforced the fact that children do not have the opportunity

to choose who will stand for them, and that I should continue to

strive to be the best advocate for them that I can be.” Katie ultimately

became that voice for many victims as head of the Crimes Against

Women and Children Unit, and stood in good stead on their behalf

for over seven years.

Her next position as Executive Chief Assistant District Attorney

included leading the Homicide Unit, where she represented the

State in murder and cold case murder cases, complex cases, and high

profile media cases, and assisted law enforcement with the drafting

of specialized warrants and court orders in order to apprehend

the county’s most wanted fugitives. Also tasked with determining

whether the State should seek the death penalty, Katie managed all

of the litigation such decisions entail.

“One of the things I love about the law is that you are constantly

learning. There is never a time where you can sit down and feel as if

you know all of the answers,” she confirms. “I believe that a desire to

continue to be the best community member that I can be allowed

me to have a purpose each morning when I wake up.”

All of these roles were excellent preparation for her most recent

appointment. As one of five judges sitting on the State Court of

Clayton County bench, Powers will lead a trial court covering misdemeanor

and traffic violations that are prosecuted by the Solicitor

General’s office, as well as all civil actions without exclusive jurisdiction

in the Superior Court.

While Katie’s career lets her give back to the community she loves

on one level, for the past thirteen years she has lived vicariously

through her alma mater via her coaching gig with its Mock Trial

Team. “Participation on the JHS Mock Trial Team [as a student]

is the reason that I wanted to become a lawyer. Oftentimes, we hear

about the negative press surrounding Clayton County, but what

people fail to realize is that our mock trial students have won and are

winning state, national, and international academic competitions,”

she boasts. “These students are truly the best of the best!”

By using her faith in God to strengthen and motivate her to be

the best person she can be on a daily basis, Judge Powers confesses

that she always intended to use her gifts to give back. “Rarely are you

granted an opportunity to know that every day when you come to

work you are positively affecting your home. The people of Clayton

County have made me who I am today, and I wanted to come back

to serve the very people that invested so much in me.”

Outside of the courtroom, this Adele fan enjoys running and is currently

training for her fifth half marathon. Judge Powers also enjoys

watching Georgia football (when they win, of course.)