January 2020

Happy New Decade!

We look forward to telling you stories and news from the judiciary of Georgia in 2020 and we will strive to evolve how stories are told in the future. Our top story for January is from Judge Michael Key who wrote an inspiring story about a trauma responsive prosecutor reacting to a mother seeing her 15-year-old son sentenced to detention. We are also proud of Will Simmons and Tracy BeMent, President and President Elect of the National Association of Court Management so we wrote a profile of both of them

(L) Troup County Juvenile Court Judge Michael Key; (M) Will Simmons, NACM President, GA DCA 6th JAD,; (R) Tracy BeMent, NACM President-Elect, GA DCA 10th JAD

The Judicial Council of Georgia has a new strategic plan which includes a charge to enhance the professional and ethical image of the judiciary. The easiest way to do that is to promote your good work on and off the bench. We know that many of you work long hours way beyond 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Help us tell that story by submitting pictures, news, and story ideas. Our emails are hyperlinked below. To that charge, we are also working with GA DOE to create a series of civics kits focusing, for now, on Law Day 2020 as a starting point and expanding from there.  The 2020 Law Day theme is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.  For our civics engagement initiative, we have just a one-page flyer at the moment, with more to come.

Of course, the legislative session has begun which means the JC/AOC Governmental and Trial Court Liaison team will be sending out twice-weekly reports and keeping up the JC/AOC legislative tracking website. The State of the State was delivered, streamed, and archived on Thursday, January 16, 2020. The State of the Judiciary is not set as of this writing.  There will be a dedication for the new Judicial Building on February 11 at 10:30a with Justice Clarence Thomas as the keynote speaker.

The AOC had recent visits to our staff meetings from Council of Probate Court President, Judge T.J. Hudson (who just finished visiting every county) and Chief Magistrate Judge Rebecca Pitts of Butts CountyThe JDEX project had positive updates at a January meeting.  The Commission on Interpreters hosted an orientation workshop.  The recent Professionalism CLE was well-attended and live-tweeted by Court of Appeals Judge Carla McMillian. Forsyth’s Superior Court Chief Judge Bagley kicked off their new Parental Accountability Court. The J4C team hosted an MD-CANI for Murray and Whitfield County Juvenile Courts. The A2J team created some video stories of the Dougherty County Law Library & Self-Help Center in action.

(Above) The Commission on Interpreters’ orientation workshop. (Below) Juvenile Data Exchange Project Meeting

Clayton County DUI Court held a graduation with Judge Margaret Spencer presiding and speaker Darcy Kamau sharing an emotional story about losing her brother to a drunk driver which led to her career and her belief in helping people get second chances. The Superior Court Judges Council had a successful conference. Council of State Court President-Elect Fulton County Judge Wes Tailor, Atlanta Municipal Court Judge Gary Jackson, Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy, and Superior Court Judge William A. Prior were all profiled in various media outlets. The State Court of Bibb County received a grant from the Swift, Certain, & Fair (SCF) program of the Bureau of Justice Assistance to reduce recidivism for domestic violence offenders.

Judge Jason Deal, Judge Russell McClelland, Taylor Jones and Alison Lerner of the JC/AOC spoke at @MYGACDL ’s Winter Seminar. The Behavioral Health Innovation and Reform Commission met this past month.  Superior Court Judges Jim Prine and Superior Court Judge Angela Duncan were sworn in.  Two new juvenile court judges were appointed in Fulton County as well. Hall County has a new Magistrate Court Judge. Acworth has a new municipal court judge. Judge Jonathan Fordham (Bleckley County) and Judge Carrie Markham (Coweta County) are the newest Probate Court Judges. 

Judge Jeffrey Bagley and Judge Asha Jackson are our latest additions to the video series;  Meet the Members of the Judicial Council.  Finally, the State Bar of Georgia is planning a Wellness Retreat on May 1 to May 3 at Barnsley with at least one class for judges. Details will follow. In the meantime, take care of yourselves. 

Talk to you in February 


Your JC/AOC Courts Journal newsletter team:  Michelle Barclay, Keia Evans, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, Bruce Shaw, and our contractors, Patricia Buonodono & John Ramspott.