Atlanta, October 19, 2015 – Superior Court Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit has been designated to serve in place of Justice Carol Hunstein in the appeal of Downey v. the State (S15A1681). The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear arguments in the case on Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015 during its 2:00 P.M. session. In this Tattnall County case, a young man is appealing the murder conviction and life prison sentence he received for his role in the shooting death of an 18-year-old girl. In addition to hearing arguments, Judge LaGrua will participate in the Court’s decision.
Judge LaGrua, 53, was appointed to the Fulton County Superior Court in December 2009 by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue. She was re-elected in 2012. Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge LaGrua served as Inspector General for the Georgia Secretary of State where she created the office’s first comprehensive investigative unit. In 2004, she served as the Solicitor General for DeKalb County where she expanded the Domestic Violence Unit. She also founded the “Rise Up and Attend” truancy initiative while serving as DeKalb’s Solicitor. Judge LaGrua has more than 20 years of trial experience, including her work as Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney in DeKalb and Fulton counties, and Chief Assistant in the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit.
Judge LaGrua is a founding member and past chair of the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, Judicial Application Review Committee. She is a Master of the Logan E. Bleckley Inn of Court, and the Lamar Inn of Court. She currently serves as chair of the Judicial Section of the Georgia State Bar, is a member at-large on the Atlanta Bar’s Continuing Legal Education (CLE) committee and the Celebrating Service committee. She is an alumna member of Leadership Atlanta, class of 2011, and served as Vice Chair of its Criminal Justice Day for 2014-2015.
Additionally, Judge LaGrua serves on the Fulton County Superior Court’s Executive Committee, and co-chairs its Magistrate Committee. She presides over “My Life Matters,” a pilot probation program, as well as the court’s first Re-entry Court, which works to integrate prior offenders back into the community.
Judge LaGrua graduated from the University of Georgia and received her Juris Doctorate from the Georgia State University College of Law, where she later taught Advanced Evidence and Litigation. Judge LaGrua is married to Chris Beanland. She has two step-sons, Daniel and Ben. (Designated judges are appointed when a justice must recuse himself or herself from a particular case. The Supreme Court of Georgia maintains a list of judges from around the state and when the need arises, the Court appoints the next judge on the list.)