May 2023

Greetings Courts Journal Readers: 

May opens with Law Day on the first of the month and provides an opportunity to celebrate the rule of law all month long.  We have enjoyed seeing pictures and videos of the Judicial Council/AOC’s 2023 Law Day Art Contest winners receiving their awards from their local judges.  We thank Judge Jeffrey Bagley, Judge Maureen Wood and Judge Tabitha Ponder for participating in the award ceremonies for K-12 students in their counties.  Justice Pinson celebrated Law Day with the Valdosta Bar Association and Judge Ben Land celebrated Law Day in Columbus and Canton.  The month of May also boasts Public Service Recognition Week, and we celebrated with a healthy breakfast for all staff on Wednesday morning, a poll asking staffers the reasons for which they chose a career in public service, and a fitness challenge encouraging 30 minutes of movement per day which was rewarded with a cool Judicial Council/AOC 50th anniversary T-shirt.

Congratulations to all of the 2023 Law Day Art Contest winners!
Justice Pinson at the Valdosta Bar Association’s Law Day Event.
Left: Judge Land at the Columbus Bar Association’s Law Day Event. Right: Judges David Cannon, Ben Land, Shannon Wallace, and Tony Baker at the Law Day program for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit.
Judicial Council of Georgia/AOC staffers received a T-shirt upon completing a fitness challenge.

May also means Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month which gave us an opportunity to honor our Georgia judges and congratulations to Justice McMillian who spoke at the unveiling of a Georgia Historical Society plaque recognizing Augusta’s Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association as the state’s oldest Chinese organization and who received the Judge Alvin T. Wong Pioneer Award from GAPABA. We always look forward to Judge Jason Thompson’s annual “May the 4th Be With You” post wearing his amazing Star Wars suit–what a great way to advertise your Court’s Open House and the People’s Law School in Fayette County!  We enjoyed two articles in recent issues of the Georgia Bar Journal featuring the history of the courthouses in Echols and Dodge counties as well as an article titled: Judges and the Georgia Professionalism Movement, The Impact of Service and Leadership by the Executive Director of the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism, Karlise Grier, which was published in the Spring issue of the ABA’s Judges’ Journal. We appreciated this article about the workload collaboration between Fulton State and Superior Court Judges as courts continue to work hard and develop innovative solutions to resolve the pandemic backlog.

Celebrating Georgia’s AAPI Judges.
Judge Thompson celebrating May 4th, also known as Star Wars Day.

Congratulations to former Chief Justice Nahmias who was awarded the Logan Bleckley Award for Judicial Excellence by the Litigation Section of the Atlanta Bar Association and Judge Kimberly Alexander who received the “Keeping Children First”  Award from the Stone Mountain Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.  We also send congratulations to Magistrate Court awardees Judge Megan Kinsey and Judge Michael Barker, the new officers of the Council of Probate Court Judges, the new officers of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, and the Council of State Court Judges awardees, especially longtime public servant Bob Bray. Thank you to Judge Kathrine Armstrong for speaking at our All Staff Meeting this month; we loved learning about the Gwinnett County Recorder’s Court. We also thank Superior Court Judge Rachel Krause who spoke on the role of judges at a “Hometown Heroes” event at Autrey Mills Middle School in Fulton County and our own Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez who represented the Judicial Council/AOC at a similar event at Webb Bridge Middle School.  Kudos to the Council of Accountability Court Judges as we read that Georgia’s accountability court standards and certification processes are now highlighted in a national Center for Justice Innovation publication.

Council of Juvenile Court Judges President Judge Warner Kennon was sworn in by Judge Lisa Jones.
Judges Megan Kinsey and Michael Barker received awards at the Council of Magistrate Court Judges Leadership Meeting.
Left to right: Chief Justice Boggs swore in the Council of State Court Judges President Judge John Edwards, Executive Director Bob Bray received a legacy award, Robe Rage performs, Judge Jeanette Little presents on the Council’s history, and Judge Kimberly Alexander is recognized for receiving the Keeping Children First Award.

The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on ARPA Funding awarded over $15 million to 24 judicial circuits. The Justice for Children Committee hosted a retreat for Georgia’s Child Welfare Law Specialists in addition to holding a committee meeting this month. The Access to Justice Committee will be hosting the final webinar in its Minding the Justice Gap series: The Crucial Role of Public Libraries on June 12th in addition to holding a committee meeting this month.  Don’t miss the Good Judge-ment podcasts Ep. 119: Probation Revocation Hearings and Ep. 118: Hybrid Representation – Johnson v. State.  We leave you with text from Kuvam Bhatia, an 8th grader from Suwanee, Georgia who won 3rd place in the NCSC Civics Education Essay Contest:

“With freedom comes responsibility! Responsible American citizens use their freedom of speech to peacefully protest, convey a political message, or engage in symbolic speech. Irresponsible citizens abuse their freedom to do many negative things that may require an authority to intervene, such as instigating lawless action or going against their school’s wishes by promoting things like drugs, distributing obscene materials, and printing prohibited articles. If an authority must get involved to keep the peace, it’s when a citizen’s use of the freedom of speech turns from a means of self-expression to an inimical way to promote anarchic or disorderly behavior.”

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in June.

Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team:  Michelle BarclayNoelle Lagueux-AlvarezBruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott