July 2019

So, the Courts Journal website is down due to a ransomware attack and it is appropriately low on the priority of being rebuilt (the applications used by actual courts are most important).  We’ve been posting progress notices.  Luckily, we have also set up our newsletter email service on Mailchimp (a Georgia company) so we can still send out our monthly newsletter and we have all the archives there too which we may end up using for the future (we are considering options now).

The past four weeks have sparked a lot of internal conversations about the role of government in providing information technology services.  Where and when should the government be in this space? Many have written about this subject.  We all acknowledge how dependent we are on technology which is so great (until it is not).  We have learned that the AOC has provided a number of important services that really helped court efficiency (like traffic dispositions, fines and fee calculations and licensing tasks) to over 100 courts (often the smaller to medium-sized counties) which are well-liked and are missed.   The IT systems within the AOC providing these services were built a while back (legacy systems as they are named) and unfortunately, it will be security and cost prohibitive to rebuild some of these systems. The court staff and judges relying on these legacy systems have had to fall back to a paper process which is burdensome.  People are having to put in long hours to get the work done and yet the doors to courts have not closed and workarounds have emerged. A number of people have told us how helpful the paper courts directory has been and a number of us are rethinking our drives to be paperless. It is rather nice to curl up with a real book and not worry about viruses or ransoms.

We will have a fuller report in time of what happened, the impact and a reflection on decisions made to move forward by the next Judicial Council meeting on August 23.  In the meantime, many good things have happened in the past month which you should know about so let’s get to it.

Judge Dillard among others won an award from the Daily Report.  Judge McFadden became the Chief of the Court of Appeals with a delightful ceremony.  The Supreme Court appointed Judge Colvin to the JQCJudge Amero talked to the State Bar of Georgia about running the Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.  The Chief Justice gave a talk in Athens and Judge McMillian gave a talk in Augusta. UGA promoted their Benham scholars.  Magistrate Court Judge Joyette changed jobs when she was appointed as the Cobb County DA and Judge Murphy was appointed to replace her.  Four new judges were appointed to the Superior Court bench.  

A new (and the first) Business Court judge nominee, Walter Davis, was announced by Governor Kemp whose office streamed and archived the ceremony.  St. Joseph’s/Candler magazine published a great story about long-retired Judge Faye Sanders Martin.  The J4C team conducted two Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse and Neglect Institutes (Gwinnett and Whitfield), JC/AOC attorney contractor, Tabitha Ponder gave a talk about improving access to justice in Augusta and the Child Support team conducted a seminar at the State BarJudge Walker traveled to California with staff to report out on a federal grant aimed to improve infant brain development.  Judge Edwards wrote an article about why Superior Courts are night courts on election nights.

Aimee Maxwell did an interview with Judge Hodges.  The municipal court judges from the 3rd district met recently in Byron GA.  Many Judicial Council committee meetings took or will be taking place this month such as the Technology, Judicial Workload, Strategic Plan, Budget, and Legislation.  We got another video made of our Judicial Council member, Judge Kelley, just before he rolled off and we did an on-site video for a change of pace.  We’ve enjoyed meeting more summer interns recently.   Finally, we (with many others) are preparing for another Expungement Clinic in Valdosta for Friday, July 26 and we’ll leave you with this animation advertisement.  

Talk to you in August