Staff Photo: Erin Evans. Chief Superior Court Judge John M. Ott swears in Layla Zon as the new district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit Friday afternoon as her husband Marty looks on.
COVINGTON -- Layla Zon was sworn in Friday as the new district attorney for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit before a packed room of well-wishers, including family, friends and colleagues.
The honor came in the midst of a chaotic week of trials in both Newton and Walton counties, and Friday's ceremony in the jury impaneling room of the Newton County Judicial Center was planned in a rush. But Zon said she wouldn't have it any other way.
"This is representative of what we do. It's about working hard, getting in there and trying cases. That's what I promise to do as district attorney, is to work hard and get it right," Zon said.
She also pledged to be a servant of the community.
"I will always attempt to do this job with a servant's heart. It's about serving the public. It's not about me," she said.
Zon is the first female district attorney for the Alcovy Circuit. Chief Judge John M. Ott, who administered the oath of office, recalled a day 25 years ago when a judge remarked that a new female assistant district attorney would never get a conviction because of her gender.
"Now here we sit 25 years later with a very qualified attorney and prosecutor who will be district attorney, who just happens, by accident of birth, to be female," Ott told the crowd.
Ott praised Zon for her zeal to see justice served.
"I can't begin to tell you the passion she exhibits. It's passion the right way," he said, noting that while some prosecutors are too aggressive and unfeeling and others are too passive, Zon strikes the right balance.
"She has the moral strength to know sometimes that people are not guilty of the crimes they are accused of; it takes just as much strength to say we don't need to prosecute this person," he said.
Ott also added that when in his courtroom, Zon "never hesitates to tell me when I'm wrong."
Zon was also lauded by her predecessor, Superior Court Judge Ken Wynne.
"Layla is known for her trial expertise in the courtroom as well as her passion for justice," Wynne said. He went on to read feedback from several jurors and one victim who had observed Zon at work.
One local attorney, who happened to also serve on a jury, wrote to say that Zon did a "masterful job" with her closing argument, helping the jury to reach a quick verdict.
A victim's letter stated that Zon "displayed the kind of professionalism your department can hold in high regard."
Wynne said he frequently received such feedback regarding Zon in the form of calls and letters while serving as district attorney. He said her passion for people will make her an excellent district attorney, noting that she often gives her personal phone number to victims and works with them after hours.
Gov. Sonny Perdue announced his appointment of Zon earlier this week. The vacancy was created by the appointment of Wynne as the fifth Superior Court judge for the Alcovy Circuit.
Zon began her career as a prosecutor with the District Attorney's Office in 2000, and "quickly became one of the more effective trial lawyers in the circuit," said Wynne. In 2003, she was promoted to chief assistant district attorney and continued to prosecute cases in the courtroom.
Zon earned a bachelor's degree from Liberty University and her juris doctorate from Georgia State University. She is a member of the First Baptist Church of Covington, Rotary Club of Covington, YMCA Board of Directors and the Newton County Community Partnership Board. She is the mock trial coach for the Newton High School Mock Trial Team and is a faculty member of DeKalb Technical College's Law Enforcement Academy.
She lives in Covington with her husband, Marty, who stood by his wife's side and held the Bible where she placed her right hand to take the oath of office. Also present were her mother and father, Shirley and Terry Hinton, and sister April Bucci, of Dallas, and brother Keith Hinton of Lawrenceville. Brother Michael, also of Dallas, was unable to attend.