April 2023

Greetings Georgia Courts Journal readers:

The Judicial Council of Georgia held a General Session in person in Columbus, Georgia on April 21st, which was live-streamed and archived. During that meeting, the Judicial Council voted on several items including Judicial Workload Assessment and Court Reporting Matters. Other committees presenting reports were ARPA Funding, Legislation, Budget, Judicial Salaries and Supplements, Court Interpreters, Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, Judicial Security, Technology, and Judicial Emergency Preparedness. Also during that meeting, the Judicial Council/AOC’s 50th anniversary was highlighted by a special video compilation curated by Judge Tain Kell (Ret.) and by announcing a Habitat for Humanity service event, which will take place on September 23, 2023 in Cobb County.  Judges, please reach out to Bruce Shaw if you are interested in participating in that service event.  We have additional videos of current Georgia judges reflecting on the Judicial Council’s role as it reaches its 50-year mark. We especially enjoyed the Governor presenting a proclamation to the Judicial Council/AOC this month and we named one of our conference rooms after the first Director of the AOC, James Dunlap.  The 2023 Georgia Courts Directory has been printed and is being distributed.  Please reach out to us if you would like an electronic copy and/or a printed one.

Thank you to the Judicial Council’s outgoing members pictured above with Chief Justice Boggs, Presiding Justice Peterson, and Director Clanton.
Banners and confections in celebration of JC/AOC’s 50th anniversary.
The Judicial Council/AOC received a proclamation from the Governor honoring its 50th anniversary.
Judicial Council/AOC staff were presented the Spirit of Justice Award from the State Bar of Georgia Judicial Section, presented by Judge Dear Jackson and Justice LaGrua (photo credit: Chief Justice Michael Boggs).

We enjoyed pictures of oral argument heard by the Court of Appeals when they took their court on the road visiting Columbus and this great quote from Judge Ben Land, “I hope [the students] understand that … the judiciary is an open, public body and the people’s business gets taken care of and gets handled in public for all to see.”  We have done a number of interviews with judges this month to update our “Meet the Members of the Judicial Council” webpage.  The Council of Probate Court Judges (CPCJ) held its annual training conference this month, elected Judge Danielle McRae of Upson County as its President, and recognized our own LaShawn Murphy with the CPCJ’s Friend of the Council Award.  We have some great pictures of the 150 judges from across the state who attended the Magistrate Court Judges’ Spring Recertification from April 16-19, 2023. Some topics on their agenda included: legislative updates, bond special conditions, implicit bias, damages, and rules of evidence.

The Court of Appeals of Georgia heard oral arguments in Columbus.
Judicial Council/AOC’s LaShawn Murphy received recognition from the Council of Probate Court Judges.

Fulton County was extra busy this month.  Fulton County Superior Court Judges Melynee Leftridge, Belinda Edwards, and Shermela Williams participated in a Hometown Heroes event at an elementary school sponsored by the Fulton County Social Studies Department. Judge Paige Reese Whitaker and Judge Rachel Krause will participate in similar events in May. Fulton County Judges have been featured in several videos lately including: Magistrate Court Chief Judge Kirk describing the “Bang a Gavel” Program, State Court Chief Judge Wes Tailor describing a newly renamed Recovery Treatment Court, and the Fulton Juvenile Court hosting the 16th Annual Youth & Law Summit: The Courage to be Uncommon.  Fulton County also held a re-opening of its Justice Resource Center. The Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology, chaired by Judge Stephen Kelley of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit, met this month to discuss updates to the Georgia Courts Registrar, training, website redesigns, strategic planning, new legislation, and system updates. The Judicial Council Standing Committee on Access to Justice, in collaboration with many partners, hosted a webinar on record restrictions, which was live-streamed and archived.

The Technology Committee, chaired by Judge Stephen Kelley, met on April 19.
Judges in Fulton County helped raise civic awareness about the judiciary by participating in a “Hometown Heroes” event.

Congrats to Justice Verda Colvin who received the Randolph W. Thrower Lifetime Achievement Award by the @StateBarofGA’s Committee to Promote Inclusion in the Profession. Law Day is coming up on May 1st.  Please tell us if you are doing anything with your local schools or community organizations to celebrate Law Day as we’d love to promote your community engagement. We are happy to announce the winners of our 2023 Law Day Art Contest (co-sponsored by GCCA) which were voted upon by the members of the Judicial Council.  This year’s Law Day theme is “Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration” and we received some wonderful entries interpreting that theme.  We thank all the students and teachers who participated. The Court Technology and Support Services team of the Judicial Council/AOC’s IT Division is pleased to release the April issue of the Court Tech Talk newsletter. Don’t miss Good Judge-ment PodcastsEp. 115: Custodial Statements of Minors and Ep. 116: Bond and Bond Conditions. We leave you with this cool video of the Banc Room at the Georgia Court of Appeals by Judge Dillard (of course).

1st Place winner from Group 1: Kaylee Williams, Rockdale County
1st Place winner from Group 2: Claire Lin, Forsyth County
1st Place winner from Group 3: Emery Cooper, Cobb County

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in May.

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