The Good-Judgement Podcast

On Friday, December 13, 2019 Superior Court Judges Wade Padgett, Augusta Judicial Circuit, and Tain Kell, Cobb Judicial Circuit, were kind enough to let us sit in on a recording session of “The Good Judge-ment Podcast” in Athens, Georgia.  

This particular day was the fifth recording session that the judges have done in tandem since beginning the project in May 2019. While balancing a superior court caseload and the unseen myriad of other duties that come with the position of superior court judge (i.e. Council duties, trainings, running for election, etc.), Judges Padgett and Kell try to find a sweet spot in the schedule, usually a day at the bookend of a training or council event, to meet in Athens at the UGA School of Law’s podcast studio to record a chunk of episodes in one fell swoop… and the output of content is prodigious. By the end of the the fifth session, they hope to have completed almost 40 episodes.  At this time there are 23 episodes published, a handful on deck ready for release, and the rest in production or being recorded.

First Lady of Georgia Marty Kemp stops by the Good Judge-ment to discuss her initiative to curb human trafficking in Georgia.

While the focus has mostly been on substantive law and procedure for superior courts, the show also has had a three episode foray into the realm of probate courts with special guest Judge Keith Wood of the Cherokee County Probate Court.  

How it started

In 2015, Judges Padgett and Kell started teaching the New Judge Orientation (NJO), a nuts and bolts training for new superior court judges in Georgia. Drawing from their personal experiences, Judges Kell and Padgett realized that a new judge can find themselves being sworn-in on one day; and on the very next day in a room full of litigants, litigators, and court personnel, now suddenly they’re the captain of the ship. This change in perspective, from bar to bench, can be a little jarring. Seeing a need for a more accessible and prompt type of training resource, the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education Executive Director Doug Ashworth suggested creating a podcast. Podcasts available on-demand would provide a quick reference for new judges preparing to take the bench, as well as quick refreshers and practical tips for judges with years of experience. After receiving suggestions for topics from NJO attendees, Judges Padgett and Kell began to comb their networks for resources, preferably resources that are free – or at least inexpensive.  

The Good Judge-ment team, from left to right: Stephen Turner, Jim Henneberger, Judge Kell, Judge Padgett, and Garon Muller.

Podcasting done well requires recording equipment and services. Those technical needs landed them in the back of the University of Georgia Law Library, where the school has a small room dedicated solely to audio recording. The Law School’s IT Director Jim Henneberger donates some of his time to run the recording equipment. Judge Padgett found Stephen Turner, who offered to edit and package the segments at a price that’s a fraction of industry rates. Having full-time jobs, both judges also knew they would need occasional help with content development. Enter Garon Muller, a former staff attorney for Judge Padgett, who, like the show hosts, has an avid interest in legal procedure.  Garon assists with outlines for shows, legal research, and can be heard on the evidence series, more of which will be published soon. Finally, podcasts need to be distributed online. Enter Kevin Holder, Executive Director of the Probate Court Council, who helped get “the Good Judge-ment” uploaded to Soundcloud, Podbay, and now Spotify. 

Recently, a grant was received from the State Justice Institute to help offset production costs. The next goal is to acquire travel-ready recording equipment to take the show on the road to rearch more guests. Judges Padgett and Kell realized early on that one of the most beneficial things arising from the show is the potential for practical tips from other judges in sit-down interviews. Just listen to the interview with Judge Lamar Sizemore, Sr. who offered some wise words to live by for any judge in the two part series included below.   

Why a podcast?

The number of Americans listening to podcasts has grown year over year. According to Edison Research, over half the population of the U.S. in 2019 has listened to a podcast. Episodes are easily downloaded to smart devices and can be listened to anywhere, making it extraordinarily easy to work into even the busiest schedule.

The podcast format lends itself to a conversational style, which can turn a “Sahara Desert dry topic” (as Judge Kell calls it) like judicial procedure into something more pleasant to approach. This style was perfect for the Good Judge-ment as the goal isn’t to preach to listeners, because to be sure, its intended audience has—at some point in their legal career—already encountered and learned something about the concepts discussed. The intent is to bring the ideas back to the front of a judge’s mind, clear up common misunderstandings. offer practical tips coming from other circuits, and as Judge Sizemore says, to “just rule.”

New to podcasts? Try some of these suggestions after you visit

Judge Padgett: Serial, This American Life, the Armchair Expert

Judge Kell: The Ron Burgundy Podcast.

by Bruce Shaw

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