Justice Carol W. Hunstein was appointed to the Supreme Court in November 1992 by Governor Zell Miller, becoming the second woman in history to serve on the Court. She served as Chief Justice from 2009-2013. Prior to her appointment to the highest court, Justice Hunstein ran for election in 1984 in DeKalb County, becoming the first woman elected as a Superior Court judge in the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. Before becoming a judge, Justice Hunstein was in private practice.
As a superior court judge, Justice Hunstein chaired many DeKalb County Committees including the Alimony and Support Unit Committee, the Diversion Center Committee, the Probation Committee, and the Domestic Violence Task Force. She is a former district director of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) and in 2017, she is due to co-chair the Association’s Annual Conference, which is being held in Atlanta.
Justice Hunstein was the first woman to serve as President of the Council of Superior Court Judges. By virtue of that office, she was the first person ever to have served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court before becoming a permanent member of the Court. (In 1991, all seven sitting justices recused themselves and designated seven superior court judges to hear and decide a case. Justice Hunstein, as President of the Council, served by designation as Chief Justice).
Justice Hunstein received her Juris Doctor in 1976 from Stetson University College of Law. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida Atlantic University in 1972 and an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Junior College in 1970.
Justice Hunstein has served on the Advisory Board of the Justice Center of Atlanta and the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. She is a former Rosalynn Carter Honorary Fellow in Public Policy at the Emory University Institute on Women’s Studies. She also served as an adjunct professor at Emory University School of Law.
She is the former chair of the Georgia Commission on Access and Fairness, which was charged with implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Gender Bias and the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias. She also chaired the Georgia Commission on Interpreters and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. She is a member of the American Bar Association’s Public Perceptions Committee, the Bleckley Inn of Court, and has served as liaison to the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism.
In the course of her career, she has received many honors including an honorary LLD from Stetson University College of Law, a commendation for outstanding service from the Georgia General Assembly, the Emory University Legal Association for Women Students’ Public Service Award, the DeKalb County Women’s Network “Women Who Have Made a Difference” Award, and the Joseph T. Tuggle Professionalism Award. Florida Atlantic University has inducted her into its Hall of Fame. She has also received the Commitment to Equality Award from the State Bar of Georgia Committee on Women and Minorities in the Profession. In 2014, Justice Hunstein received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League. In 2017, The Atlanta Bar Association Litigation section presented her with the Logan E. Bleckley Award for Judicial Excellence.
Justice Hunstein has three children and three grandchildren.