October 2021

Greetings Courts Journal readers:

We welcome fall.  May it bring cooler temperatures, fewer mosquitoes, many pumpkins, and declining COVID-19 cases to all of us. Our Chief Justice wrote an essay on why he chose to be vaccinated which was published in the AJC. The Judicial Council met virtually today (live-streamed and archived) to discuss details about Governor Kemp’s announcement to release up to $110M in funds based on the proposal submitted to support Georgia’s Judiciary because of the pandemic. Administration details are still being worked out. October is National Hispanic Heritage Month which provides a great opportunity to highlight and celebrate Georgia judges.  October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and we thank our judges who work to address domestic violence in their daily work, especially Judge Dear Jackson who participated in a recent panel about domestic violence. We enjoyed reading about Justice Carla McMillian swearing in the new GAPABA Board and that DeKalb County State Court Judge Alvin T. Wong, a founding member of GAPABA, presented his eponymous award to Byung J. “BJay” Pak.

Chief Justice Nahmias wrote an op-ed on vaccination which ran in multiple publications.
Judge Alvin Wong presenting his eponymous Pioneer Award to BJay Pak.

Judges representing various classes of court testified before the Senate Public Safety Committee on October 20, to speak to court operations during the pandemic and offered suggestions for the judicial branch that could assist in reducing violent crime. Council of Magistrate Court Judges President Quinn Kasper graciously allowed us to make a video of her for our “Meet the Members of the Judicial Council” webpage.  The Councils of State Court Judges, Municipal Court Judges, and Juvenile Court Judges held successful conferences this month. Congratulations to Judge Patsy Y. Porter who received the Ogden Doremus/Kent Lawrence Award from the CStCJ. The CJCJ gave it’s two annual awards at its business meeting: the Aaron Cohn Award was given posthumously to Judge Ben Brinson who passed away two years ago on the last day of the fall seminar, and the Martha Glaze Award was given to Doug Ashworth, Director of ICJE, who is leaving ICJE to go back into private practice. We got a tip from the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution’s Executive Director, Tracy Johnson, to interview folks at the Mediation Center of Savannah about all of their good work which is positively impacting the entire state.  The Committee for Court Reporting Matters, now chaired by Vice Chief Judge Mercier, met this month as did the Learning Essentials About Professionalism (LEAP) program hosted by the Board of Court Reporting.  We listened to this “Tiny Chat” about Fulton County staffer, Jennifer Hubbard, who is developing a criminal record restriction app.  We enjoyed State Bar President and Judicial Council member Elizabeth Fite’s article about the expansion of Peer Courts in honor of the late Judge Horace Johnson and this article about Emory University renaming one of the oldest buildings on the Oxford College campus after Judge Johnson.  We also enjoyed the posts from this month’s Georgia Mock Trial.

Judges from every class of Georgia’s trial courts answered questions in a meeting of the Georgia Senate Public Safety Committee.
Judge Quinn M. Kasper participated in our Meeting the Members of the Judicial Council series.
Judge Patsy Porter received the 2021 Ogden Doremus/Kent Lawrence Award.

The Council of Accountability Court Judges newsletter is brimming with good news from its recent conference.  Congratulations to all of its  award winners, especially Judge Winston Bethel who received the Judge Stephen S. Goss award for his work on mental health courtsThank you to Council of Probate Court Judges President Thomas Lakes for speaking at our October All Staff Meeting.  We so enjoyed learning about your path to the bench.  We also learned that Chattooga County dedicated its government annex building and the intersection near the county courthouse to their dear colleague and longtime Probate Court Judge Jon M. Payne and a celebration of life service was held in memory of Probate Court Judge Nancy S. Stephenson in Albany.

The Council of Accountability Court Judges Newsletter.
Judge Thomas Lakes speaking at the October 21, 2021  JC/AOC All Staff Meeting.

Justice Colvin opened our joint Access to Justice discussion with the State’s legal self-help centers, the State Bar of Georgia, and Georgia Legal Services.  We learned about a new professor at UGA Law School and about the first Legislative Forum sponsored by GSU’s Law Review.  We enjoyed seeing Judge Amanda Heath being sworn in as Superior Court Judge of Augusta.  Our own Darron Enns visited State Court Judge Thompson this month. Thank you, Judge Leonard, for posting a note from a recent juror on their experience in court.  Cobb County judges were out in force at a roaring ‘20s themed fundraiser hosted by Cobb Legal Aid. We leave you with this wonderful story about Judge Shawn Bratton who, after seeing a bagpipe performance at at party at Bobby Lee Cook’s home when he was a first-year law student, took up that instrument and even attended the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland, immediately after taking the bar exam in 2003.  The story ends with Judge Bratton playing Amazing Grace on his bagpipes for a Gwinnett County 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony last month.

Justice Verda Colvin speaking at the joint A2J meeting.
Judge Amanda Heath at her swearing-in to the Superior Court bench with JC/AOC Director Cynthia Clanton.
Many Cobb judges attended a Cobb Legal Aid fundraiser. From left, Magistrate Court Judges Kasper, Murphy, and Brown;  Probate Court Judge Riddle; Superior Court Judges Harris, Leonard, and Poole.
Judge Shawn Bratton with his bagpipes, pictured with the Mayor of Suwanee, Jimmy Burnette.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in November.

Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team:  Michelle Barclay, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, Bruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott.