Profile: Judge Tilman (Tripp) Self

A life-long Macon resident, Judge Tilman "Tripp" Self's choice of career was guided by the family business: lawyering and judging.  The third-generation judge answered some questions about his first year on the bench of the Court of Appeals of Georgia.

Judge Tilman "Tripp" SelfPlease tell us a little about your background.  Where did you grow up?  What’s your educational background?
Judge Self: I was born and raised in Macon. Except for my time in the Army and schooling, I haven’t lived anywhere else.  I attended The Citadel in Charleston, graduating in 1990 with a B.S. in Business Administration. After The Citadel, I joined the Army as a Field Artillery Officer in order to repay my ROTC Scholarship. After the Army, I went to UGA School of Law in Athens and graduated in 1997.

How did your previous job prepare you to serve on the Court of Appeals?
Judge Self: In my opinion, sitting as a superior court judge is the best possible preparation for a job on the appellate courts. Not only does it expose you to a wide range of law comparable to what you will see on the appellate bench, but it provides you with the practical experience to recognize and understand exactly what the trial judge faced in the courtroom as he or she made the decision being reviewed.  My experience as a trial judge has also influenced my opinions as I work very hard to give clear guidance to the trial courts that can be applied and implemented as efficiently as possible.

What motivated you to study law?
Judge Self:I grew up in a family of lawyers. I am a third generation lawyer and judge. My grandfather was a lawyer and judge and I wanted to be just like him.  It also one of the very few jobs where you can meet very different and unusual people and rarely do the exact thing everyday.

What are your passions when you are off the bench?
Judge Self: I love to hunt as much as I can and I also continue to officiate college football in the Southern Conference.

What do you enjoy most about being a judge or greatest reward of your job?
Judge Self: Being a judge is the only job in the legal profession where you have the responsibility to be completely objective and let the law itself drive the answer. It’s the greatest job in the world for me.

Who has influenced your career as a judge?
Judge Self: Without a doubt, my family has greatly influenced my career. I was fortunate to have two great parents who loved me unconditionally and constantly stressed the importance of an education, but more importantly, being the very best that you could be at any endeavor. Of course, my grandfather and my uncle, who were both local judges, also greatly influenced the kind of judge I want to be and try to be. And several lawyers in my old firm had a very direct impact on both my legal and judicial careers.

After a year on the job, what do you feel is the most rewarding part of being a Court of Appeals Judge? Hardest part of the job?
Judge Self: I thoroughly enjoy working with the very talented judges on the court and a wonderful staff.  We are very lucky to have such talented people support the judges and they all make our jobs much easier.  I think the hardest part of this job remains identifying and recognizing the unintended consequences of any decision and trying to distill some very complicated legal issues into guidance and reasoning that can be easily followed by our trial courts, businesses and citizens.

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