Former Clarke-Oconee prosecutor makes history


Nhan-Ai Du Simms

By Joe Johnson

Nhan-Ai Du Sims, a former assistant district attorney in the Western Judicial Circuit, is set to become the first Vietnamese-American to sit as a full-time judge in the Gwinnett County Judicial Circuit.

Simms prosecuted criminal cases in Clarke and Oconee counties from January 2012 to November 2013.

She is currently a managing assistant district attorney with the Gwinnett County DA's office.

Earlier this month, the Gwinnett County Superior Court judges selected Simms to become the county's next Juvenile Court judge, filling a vacancy created by the recent retirement of Robert Rodatus, who served as the county's presiding Juvenile Court judge for over 28 years.

Simms' swearing-in ceremony will be held on Aug. 3 at the Gwinnett Judicial & Administration Center. Upon her investiture, she will join Judges Robert Waller and Rodney Harris who currently sit on the Gwinnett Juvenile Court bench.

Simms' appointment makes history, as she becomes the first Asian Pacific American juvenile court judge in Gwinnett County, and only the second of Asian descent in Georgia. She will also become the first Vietnamese-American to sit as a full-time judge in the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit.

The selection of Simms, who is fluent in Vietnamese, continues the diversification of Gwinnett County's bench. Previously, the juvenile court had only one other minority judge, Tadia Whitner, who was appointed in 2019 by Gov. Brian Kemp to become Gwinnett County's first African-American Superior Court Judge.

Currently a managing assistant district attorney with the Gwinnett County DA's office, Simms has specialized in juvenile prosecution for over the past six years.

"I have grown to love juvenile law, because it's a specialty where all attorneys work towards the same goal of bettering a child's life," she said.

Simms has worked with various juvenile court agencies to modernize methods to handle statutory time limits under the 2014 Georgia Juvenile Code.

Simms immigrated to the U.S. as an infant, after her parents and family escaped Vietnam as "boat people" refugees in 1980. She obtained her undergraduate business degree at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, and received her law degree in 2008 from Cumberland Law School of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

She is married to Athens-Clarke County police Detective Jonathan Simms. The couple has a son.


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