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Brewton native sits on the bench

By By Emma Lancaster West Lights of Legacy
The inclusion of historical event, people and places validates and authenticate the facts of history. These "Lights of Legacy" series shares the achievements and contributions of persons who are a part of helping to shape history.
The third week entry under the "Lights of Legacy" series is the Honorable Desiree Sutton Peagler. Judge Peagler is a native of Brewton, the daughter of the late Mr. James Sutton and Mrs. Viola Sutton of the Springhill community. Judge Peagler's parents were both educators in the Escambia County School System.
Judge Peagler is a graduate of W.S. Neal High School; the first Afro-American in the history of the school to achieve the top rank in her class, graduating in 1980 as valedictorian of the class.
Valuing extra-curricular activities, she was actively involved in numerous organizations of the school's program. She was president of Future Homemakers of America/HERO in Alabama, Clarinet Section leader for the marching and concert bands, a lettered varsity basketball player for four years and served as class officer for several years.
Her classmates selected her as "Most intellectual" and "Most likely to succeed". Not only was Judge Peagler active in her school life, but she was also active in her community, serving as pianist for Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church-her home church.
From W.S. Neal, Judge Peagler matriculated to Troy State University, graduating (summa cum laude) in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in comprehensive language arts.
While at Troy State, Judge Peagler continued to be involved in extra-curricular activities while engaged in her rigorous schedule of study.
She was a member of the Sound of the South Marching band for four years, president of Mu Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., secretary and senator for the student government association.
Because of her scholastic achievement, several honorary societies tapped her for membership. These included Sigma Tau Delta-where she served as president, Gamma Beta Phi-where she served as secretary. She was also a member of Mortarboard, Phi Kappa Phi, Omicron Delta, Phi Eta Sigma and Kappa Delta Pi.
From Troy State University, Judge Peagler enrolled at Emory University School of Law to pursue her law degree, receiving her Juris Doctor degree in 1987. At Emory, Judge Peagler was a member of the Moot Court Society, elected law school representative to the Emory University student government association.
Additionally, she was a teaching assistant where she taught reading, writing and advocacy to first year law students. Other involvement includes membership in and serving as chairperson for Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity. She was also historian for Black Law Student Association, as well as placing as finalist and semi-finalist in local and regional Moot Court competitions.
Judge Peagler was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in June of 1997 and accepted a position as an assistant with a law firm in Cobb County (Ga.) practicing civil and criminal law.
In 1998 she accepted a position as assistant district attorney with Dekalb County district attorney's office where she remained for nine years becoming a senior assistant district attorney.
Judge Peagler handled all aspects of felony criminal prosecutions, including trying felony cases before juries and arguing cases before the Georgia courts of appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court.
The former Chief Executive office of Dekalb County, Liane Levetan issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 19, 1997 as Desiree Sutton Peagler Day in recognition and commendation of her diligence, patience, wisdom and outstanding performance.
In 1997, Judge Peagler was appointed associate judge in the Dekalb County Juvenile Court, the second largest juvenile court in Georgia. In December of 2004, Judge Peagler again made history in Dekalb County, as she became the first African American female to be named a full judge of the court.
Judge Peagler presently serves on the advisory council for youth leadership in Dekalb and the advisory board for Safe Place initiative in Dekalb County. A graduate of the leadership Dekalb class of 1997, Judge Peagler served on the board of directors for leadership Dekalb for four years and the board of director of Dekalb Rape Crisis Center.
Other positions she held include: member of the executive committee of United Negro College Fund and Dekalb County committee, chairperson for the legal affairs committee of her homeowners association and team parent sponsor at the YMCA.
Judge Peagler is a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Dekalb Bar Association and the Dekalb Lawyers Association. She has worked on various committees and task forces in her community, as well as organizing career fairs and legal workshops for congregations and communities.
Judge Peagler is a member of Greenforest Community Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga. where she is a member of the church orchestra and assists in teaching younger instrumental players.
Judge Peagler is married to Correggio L. Peagler Sr. vice president, management information solutions, southeast region, CH2MHILL. They live in Lithonia, Ga. and have three children, Katie, Kristen and Correggio Jr. Judge Peagler's mother, Mrs. Viola Sutton is a retired schoolteacher and lives in the Springhill Community.
The Brewton community salutes Judge Peagler for her most notable achievement and contribution to society. Recognition is due to the significant person whose life touched hers along the way with guidance and direction.