Wheale takes over as new Ju­ve­nile Court Judge

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

At­tor­ney and ac­tress Laura Lundy Wheale will be tak­ing on a new role in Polk County af­ter her ap­point­ment as the new Chief Judge for the Tal­lapoosa Cir­cuit Ju­ve­nile Court, and started on the bench at the be­gin­ning of the week.

The ap­point­ment comes from Su­pe­rior Court Chief Judge Meng Lim to re­place the re­cently seated Su­pe­rior Court Judge Mark Mur­phy. He was ap­pointed to the seat by Gov. Nathan Deal in late 2018 fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Judge Michael Mur­phy from the Tal­lapoosa Cir­cuit bench last fall.

The new Ju­ve­nile Court Chief Judge for the cir­cuit was of­fi­cially sworn in on Fri­day in a cer­e­mony at Polk County Court­house No. 1. Judge Meng Lim an­nounced ahead of the swear­ing-in that Wheale was the first fe­male Ju­ve­nile Court Judge to serve in the cir­cuit.

He also added that with Wheale’s ap­point­ment, he hoped to con­tinue a goal of mak­ing the court sys­tem in the Tal­lapoosa Cir­cuit work at a ef­fi­cient pace.

“I’m so proud to have to have a new en­ergy and fresh peo­ple in this cir­cuit who is go­ing to try to get some of these things done for our com­mu­nity,” Lim said. “The one thing I know about Laura is that she has com­pas­sion. and that in it­self is go­ing to be huge. That is the one thing that you can’t teach. You ei­ther have it or you’re just go­ing to have to work through it. She is smart, and hard- work­ing, and she’s thor­oughly pre­pared when­ever she is ready to do some­thing with the court. So I look for­ward to work­ing with her and to help her in our ju­di­cial sys­tem.”

Wheale thanked the crowd of friends and fam­ily who came to watch the cer­e­mony last week, which in­cluded her babysit­ter when she was young, her col­lege ten­nis coach from Jack­sonville State Univer­sity, and sev­eral friends from the le­gal com­mu­nity in Cedar­town.

“I can only hope to be a judge that helps shape the lives of chil­dren in the same way that you have shaped mine,” Wheale said. “I thank you all so much for be­ing here, as I was walk­ing out and I walked out from here and saw so many peo­ple sit­ting in the room.”

She added that when she first ap­plied for the po­si­tion, she felt hes­i­tant about the po­ten­tial she would have to shape a child’s life, but that the sup­port from her hus­band Patrick helped her push for­ward on the new path she finds her­self. Wheale hoped to also have the con­tin­ued sup­port of col­leagues, friends, fam­ily and the com­mu­nity as a whole as she be­gins her time on the bench.

“I will cer­tainly be lean­ing on you all as Ju­ve­nile Judge,” she said.

Wheale added that it was her goal to “be a part of shap­ing chil­dren’s lives” for the pos­i­tive.

Prior to the end of the week swear­ing-in, Wheale spent time vis­it­ing the var­i­ous part­ners she’ll be work­ing with in both Polk and Har­al­son coun­ties, like the Court Ap­pointed Spe­cial Ad­vo­cate pro­gram for the cir­cuit, staff in the court­houses in Polk and Har­al­son Coun­ties, and also with the area Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Chil­dren’s Ser­vices staff.

She said she was grate­ful for the op­por­tu­nity to serve in the new role.

“I don’t know if I could be more ex­cited, but also hum­bled by the whole as­pect of the op­por­tu­nity,” Wheale said. “I very much look for­ward to work­ing with the chil­dren of our com­mu­nity that I grew up in.”

Wheale, who earned her Juris Doc­tor­ate from the Cum­ber­land School of Law at Sam­ford Univer­sity, and con­tin­ues to prac­tice with her par­ents Bill and Cather­ine Lundy at Parker and Lundy, along with her work at the tort firm of Childers, Sch­leut­ter, and Smith in At­lanta. She mar­ried Patrick Wheale in 2013, who is also an at­tor­ney.

Her fa­ther Bill Lundy thanked the crowd in the court­room last week for be­ing a part of the start of Wheale’s new po­si­tion on the bench.

“We all want our chil­dren to do bet­ter than us,” he said dur­ing brief re­marks at the end of the cer­e­mony. “I couldn’t be prouder of the life she’s led, and ev­ery­thing that brings her to this point.”

He thanked Lim as well for the ap­point­ment and added that “it hum­bles our fam­ily.”

Dur­ing this time, she also found her foot­ing in a ca­reer in film with ap­pear­ances in “Sully” as a re­porter in the 2016 fea­ture film, in “Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk” the same year, and “A Larger Life” in 2015.

She also took on a pro­duc­ing role in “Reck­on­ing,” which is in post­pro­duc­tion at the time.

For now, Wheale said she will be tak­ing on her new job on the bench full time.

“This is my num­ber one pri­or­ity, I’ve al­ways been prac­tic­ing law. I lucked into some roles that I got to au­di­tion for, and now I’m mov­ing into a new role,” she said.

Wheale, a grad­u­ate of Lundy Chrisi­tan Academy in 2006, got her un­der­grad­u­ate ed­u­ca­tion at Jack­sonville State Univer­sity where she also played NCAA Divi­sion I women’s ten­nis for the Lady Game­cocks, and was a two-time OVC cham­pion.

She said she looked for­ward to the new chal­lenge in a re­lease last week. Wheale was cho­sen from 11 dif­fer­ent can­di­dates for the job.

“I have spent my en­tire life here and am very hum­bled to re­ceive this ap­point­ment from Judge Lim,” she said. “I want to do ev­ery­thing I can to help our county and our cir­cuit be a bet­ter place to raise our fam­i­lies and work and live. I will do my best to serve our cir­cuit with honor and fair­ness to all.”

Her first full day of ser­vice on the bench was this past Mon­day, March 11.

/ kevin Myrick

Laura Lundy Wheale was sur­rounded by her fam­ily as she thanked at­ten­dees of her swear­ing-in on Fri­day, March 8, 2019.

/ con­trib­uted

Laura Lundy Wheale, the new Ju­ve­nile Court Chief Judge for the Tal­lapoosa Cir­cuit, stands with Mark Mur­phy, re­cently ap­pointed out of Wheale’s new seat into a Su­pe­rior Court seat.

/ kevin Myrick

A crowd gave Laura Lundy Wheale a round of ap­plause af­ter she was of­fi­cially sworn into her new job as the Ju­ve­nile Court Chief Judge of the Tal­lapoosa Cir­cuit.

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