April 2021

Happy Spring Courts Journal Readers:

After leading fifty Judicial Council meetings during his tenure as Chair, Chief Justice Melton chaired his last Judicial Council General Session via Zoom video-conferencing on April 23  which was live-streamed and archived.  During that meeting, Presiding Justice Nahmias provided a summary of the Judicial Council’s successful efforts during the 2021 legislative session; Justice Boggs provided a budget summary; Justice LaGrua reported on the work of the Judicial COVID-19 Taskforce, Judge Doyle on the Strategic Plan Committee, and Judge Emerson on the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee.  Throughout the meeting, Chief Justice Melton was roundly praised for his extraordinary leadership in general, but especially during the pandemic.  His colleagues on the Judicial Council also created a farewell video for him which was well-received.  When Chief Justice Melton leaves the Supreme Court of Georgia in July, Presiding Justice Nahmias will become Chief Justice and Justice Boggs will become Presiding Justice.  Several Judicial Council members have completed their terms on the Judicial Council and their service was greatly appreciated: Judges Christopher McFadden, Brian Amero, Jeffrey Bagley, Wesley Tailor, Lisa Jones, Kelli Wolk, Willie Weaver, former Judge TJ Hudson, and @GABar Pres. Dawn Jones.

We’ve been reading and reflecting a lot on the purpose and history of the Judicial Council after we interviewed Senior Judge Followill who was sworn in as one of the first members of the Judicial Council by Governor Jimmy Carter in 1973 and who was Judicial Council Chair in 1975.  Senior Judge Followill is a huge source of institutional-origin knowledge about the judicial branch of Georgia and he sent us a copy of his photograph of the first swearing-in. Our own JC/AOC staffer, Cheryl Karounos, wrote a summary of the successful 2021 legislative session for us. The #JusticeNeedsJurors campaign continues and we have been closely following the stats. To date, the top geographic areas for the FB campaign are in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah, Albany and Augusta. We can see a 98% video-completion rate which means that people are watching the entire video. Top streaming devices are Roku, Samsung TV and Amazon Prime. Impressions delivered by day are evenly spread Monday-Sunday which is preferred to get a good mix of viewers across the campaign. We’ll likely continue this campaign until we expend all the grant funds. We are grateful to Judge Ken Hodges for his assistance in procuring those funds.  We enjoyed reading the article about a jury trial in Athens Georgia being “surprisingly smooth” and the article about the DeKalb County Courts.

The first swearing-in of the Judicial Council of Georgia.

The JC/AOC’s 2nd dose vaccine clinic went well and many reported that it feels good to be fully vaccinated.  The Nathan Deal Judicial Center also hosted a vaccine clinic arranged by Judge Ken Hodges on April 15 and many lawyers and their families were able to get a vaccine as well as see the public spaces of the Judicial Building.   Judge Rashida Oliver, East Point Municipal Court & Fulton Magistrate, spoke at our staff meeting this month. She imparted a lesson about how talent is often visible through one’s work product, but using your talent and work ethic to engage those around you is equally important. J4C hosted a hybrid multi-disciplinary Child Abuse and Neglect Institute for Bartow and Paulding Counties.  A2J staff volunteered for the ProBono Project’s Georgia Free Legal Answers Spring Cleaning Help-A-Thon this month and there is another one happening on June 24–attorney volunteers are needed.   Hall County was recognized by the National Child Support Enforcement Association (NCSEA) for its collection of child support by its 10-year-old Parental Accountability Court.

JC/AOC vaccine clinic administered the second dose on April 20.
Chief Judge Rashida Oliver speaking at the JC/AOC all-staff meeting.

Judge Melanie Bell was awarded the 2021 Outstanding Probate Court Judge of the year this month, and her colleagues, Judge Darin McCoy and Judge Tammi Brown received Meritorious Service awards.  We want to bring Good Judge-ment podcast episodes (Ep. 60 Mental Health Evaluations w/ Dr. Karen Bailey & Dr. Kiana Wright and Ep. 61 (Domestic Relations) to your attention as well as the In Recess podcast hosted by GCCA with recent episodes about juvenile law and using social media for your court.  We encourage you to watch CJCP’s Suicide Awareness Program on April 30th and the May 5th State Bar program, Living Well to Practice Well.   Both programs include Georgia judges on their agendas and both will be livestreamed. Finally, we remind you that we are planning an event with Fulton County Superior Court and Fulton County schools to celebrate Law Day in May, as well as preparing self-study social media posts of books or media recommendations from Judicial Council committee members that offer education or inspiration about the rule of law.  Send some recommendations our way if you want to participate!  Our DOE partners tell us student interest in the rule of law is very high right now.

ABA’s Law Day logo. Share on your social media account to celebrate on May 1.
The Suicide Awareness Program will take place on April 30, 2 – 5 pm.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in May

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