Debra Bernes, 2005-2010
Judge Debra Bernes won election to the Georgia Court of Appeals in November 2004 and took office January 1, 2005.
After graduating from Atlanta's Henry Grady High School in 1973, Judge Bernes entered the University of Florida, where in 1976, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in education with high honors. Judge Bernes earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida's Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1978.
In 1979, after becoming a member of the Georgia bar, Judge Bernes began a 20 year career as an assistant district attorney for the Cobb Judicial Circuit where she concentrated in felony prosecutions and appellate law. During her tenure as an assistant district attorney, she regularly appeared before the Georgia Supreme Court and Georgia Court of Appeals, arguing several cases of first impression.
In 2000, Judge Bernes entered private practice where she handled a wide variety of civil and criminal matters at the trial and appellate levels. Prior to assuming office, Judges Bernes had authored over 400 appellate briefs and argued over 60 cases in Georgia state and federal appellate courts.
Throughout her career, Judge Bernes has dedicated herself to serving a wide array of professional organizations. She has served as President of the Cobb County Bar Association and as Secretary of the Appellate Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is a Fellow of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia, and is a member of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, the Cobb Justice Foundation, and the Lawyers Club of Atlanta. She is a Master of both the Lamar and Bleckley Inns of Court.
Judge Bernes currently serves on the Georgia Child Support Commission, the Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution, and the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Marriage, Children and Family Law. She is also serving as Chair of the Georgia Law-Related Education Consortium.
As part of her professional commitments, Judge Bernes has played an active role in teaching and lecturing on a host of legal topics, including criminal law and appellate practice. She has served as an instructor for the North Georgia Police Academy, the Prosecuting Attorney's Council of Georgia, and the National District Attorney's Association. She also has been active in continuing legal education, having served as co-chair of several appellate advocacy seminars and Chair of the Continuing Legal Education Committee for the Cobb County Bar Association.
In addition to her professional service, Judge Bernes has volunteered her time and energy to a broad spectrum of civic and charitable organizations. In 2004, the Y.W.C.A. of Northwest Georgia recognized her as a Woman of Achievement. She currently serves as Chair of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Committee and on the boards of the Jewish Educational Loan Fund and the William Bremen Jewish Home.
Judge Bernes is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Marietta and was awarded the club's Distinguished Service Award in 1997. She is a former member of the Cobb 2000 Commission, the Cobb-Marietta Junior League, the East Cobb Jaycees, the Willow Point Service League and the Erwin Zaban Leadership Development Program.
Judge Bernes is the daughter of Alvin and Sherry Halpern. She has been married for twenty-six years to Gary Lee Bernes. They live in Marietta and have two children.