Livin’ the Dream: Judge Tricia Hise on making a difference

Habersham County Magistrate Judge Tricia Hise strives to make a positive impact on her community on and off the bench. (Daniel Purcell/

At the age of eight, she knew she wanted to practice law. Her third-grade teacher at Hazel Grove Elementary had traveled to China and showed the class a slide show of pictures from her trip.

“The government of China really interested me,” Tricia Hise, Chief Magistrate Judge for Habersham County began. “Especially with the contrast of our Democratic Republic here in the United States.”

Hise remembers asking her teacher questions about differing governments, here and abroad. It was then that her teacher told her about being an attorney. “And that’s when I knew I wanted to be an attorney,” Hise added.

Building a life and career

Hise with husband Nathan enjoys going to the University of Georgia for games. (photo submitted)

Hise grew up on Camp Creek Road in Habersham County. Graduating from Habersham Central High School in 1995, she attended the University of Georgia where she got a degree in Political Science and a minor in Criminal Justice.

“I moved to Los Angeles, California, where I attended law school at Southwestern and graduated with my JD  in 2004. I came back home to practice law,” Hise explained.

She married Nathan Dilday, a commercial loan officer at Ag Georgia Farm Credit, and they share a son Max, who is in the 6th grade at Lakeview Academy. As a family, they love attending Georgia football games, watching Max play football at his middle school, and spending time outdoors, hiking, and playing golf.

“Everyone has setbacks and struggles in life,” Hise said. “There are jobs, positions, recognitions, promotions that I didn’t obtain or was passed over.”

Hise with son Max, a 6th-grade student at Lakeview. (photo submitted)

Hise uses those experiences as opportunities to learn and stretch herself to be a better attorney, build stronger personal relationships, and expand her horizons.

“Sometimes, we just have to take ourselves out of our comfort zones and put ourselves out into the public in ways that are uncomfortable or sometimes scary,” she advised.

Making an impact on and off the bench

There are times when being a judge is difficult. Consequences come when illegal behavior is involved. Hise realizes the good and the bad in her position. “I often say to defendants, ‘Do not allow this circumstance to define you’ when speaking to those that are locked up in jail or those that I have to put in jail.”

The job as a Chief Magistrate allows her to work with different departments of government on a county and state level. The challenge she enjoys is that the law is always changing. “The Governor just signed new laws that go into effect July 1, 2024, and these laws impact me as an attorney and also how we conduct the business of the Court in Magistrate Court.”

Hise sees herself as a problem solver and it is something she enjoys. Meeting people who come before her in the Courtroom, hearing their problems, and applying the law to determine the outcome of the case is important to her.

(Daniel Purcell/

“It is my hope and desire to make an impact as a judge and an attorney, not only on the bench or in the courtroom, but also in our community,” Hise stressed. “I am who I am because impactful people took their time to invest in me. I hope that we all can think about our lives and remember those who have been kind to us and invested in us.”

When people take the time to volunteer at a school or mentor young people, Hise believes it does more than just impact one or two students, it impacts the community.

Livin’ the Dream

She has many role models in life, some of whom were her teachers. Sandra Day O’Connor, President Ronald Reagan’s appointment and the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court and Amelia Earhart are people whose lives she admires.

“In my law practice, I tell my clients that exercising will help them with their stress,” Hise discussed. “I know that I have to practice what I preach.” Hise likes to walk, hike, and run to clear her head. She also devotes time to prayer. “If I can just go on a walk or run, I know that it will motivate me to do more both in exercise and in accomplishing the tasks on my to-do list.”

Tricia and Nathan enjoy hiking together. (photo submitted)

Hise said she does believe she is “Livin’ the Dream.”  “Is my life dreamy? No. It’s hard sometimes and I have major challenges, but I’m trying my best,” Hise added. She would never want to practice law in a metropolitan world.

“I never wanted a cubicle and I didn’t want to be a hamster on a wheel,” Hise remarked. “I can take on a case and work it from beginning to end.”

Hise loves that she can build relationships in her community and donate her time, worship freely, and attend church.

“Things are not perfect, but I know that I am a piece of the puzzle trying to make a difference here in Northeast, Georgia. I love my job. I love practicing law. I love being a judge.”

Hise is surrounded by the people she loves in a community she adores.

“What more can I ask for?”

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