July 2020

Dear Courts Journal Readers,

What defines resilience?  A recent Wall Street Journal article shared with all staff by our resilient AOC Director, Cynthia Clanton, says that resilience helps us to stay on an even keel when the storm hits and the waves come, and includes psychological strengths like grit, compassion, gratitude, emotional intelligence, and agility. Over these last few months, we’ve seen great resilience from every part of Georgia’s judicial branch and our continuing losses—that are almost too much to bear—call for our continued resilience.

Newton County Judicial Center Renamed in Honor of Judge Horace J. Johnson, Jr.

The Statewide Judicial Emergency Order has been extended for a fourth timeThe Judicial COVID-19 Task Force pushes on with its work. We noticed a recent extensive and compassionate Facebook post by Judge Robert Leonard which inspired us to call him and do an interview.   We appreciate Judge Ben Studdard, Judge David Emerson, Judge Christopher Brasher, and Judge Kelli Wolk for giving interviews about COVID-19’s effect on their courthouses for a recent article as it helps inform the public about the risks the judicial branch faces.  Our JC/AOC senior staffer, Michelle Barclay, who is a former nurse, wrote an article about caring for oneself or another with COVID-19 based on her personal experience caring for a friend who contracted the virus in May.

Judicial Council holding emergency sessions via Zoom almost weekly since mid-March 2020

Judicial Council Member and President of the Council of State Court Judges, Wes Tailor, was interviewed by the Daily Report recently.  We enjoyed celebrating the Mental Health Court graduation in Cobb County with Judge Mary Staley Clark who demonstrates resilience, as does the official opening of the State-wide Business Court (build it, they will come).  The Business Court also has a newly confirmed Clerk.  The Chief Justice has a moving profile in his alma mater’s magazine as does Tee Barnes, the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Georgia, in Mercer’s magazine.  We interviewed the staff in the Middle Georgia Justice and Dougherty County Law Library/Southwestern Georgia Self-Help Center to see how each place has pivoted to continue their service to their communities.  DeKalb County is getting national kudos for their on-line traffic court.

Judge Mary Staley Clark applauding the graduates of Cobb County Mental Health Court graduation held by Zoom.

The Georgia State-wide Business Court Clerk Angie T. Davis was confirmed in a Joint Judiciary Committee hearing.

We read an article where Justice Benham reflected on his family’s connection to Lake Allatoona.  This month the AOC staffed meetings for the following Judicial Council Committees: Strategic Plan; Legislative; Budget; and Judicial Workload Assessment (JWAC). And speaking of JWAC, Chair David Emerson and JC/AOC senior staffer, Christopher Hansard, joined the Good Judge-ment Podcast to talk about their work and to provide an update.  The Good Judge-ment podcast also has a July episode on judicial writing.  JC/AOC staffer, John Botero, along with partners, announced a virtual class about how to become a Georgia court interpreter that will take place on September 8, 2020.  The State Bar exam has been postponed again and will now be on-line.

Judge Emerson Featured in the July 7, 2020 Good Judgement Podcast

The Committee on Justice for Children had a socially-distanced ceremony for the Hines Award winners with Presiding Justice David Nahmias hosting.  The Justice for Children Committee is also profiling the service of its committee members every Monday and a story from its Cold Case Project every Wednesday on social media.  We learned about two apps to help you destress: (1)  record screams to be released in Iceland and (2) peacefully gaze out of windows from around the world (and you can even upload your own window view). 

Presiding Justice David Nahmias presented the 2020 Hines Awards on July 29 at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center. Left: Rockdale County DFCS Case Manager Charles Williams. Right: Afiya Hinkson, Forsyth County Special Assistant Attorney General.

Finally, we leave you with some words from civil rights leader and longtime U.S. Congressman from Georgia’s fifth congressional district, John Lewis, who passed away this month.

“Study the path of others to make your way easier and more abundant. Lean toward the whispers of your own heart, discover the universal truth, and follow its dictates… Release the need to hate, to harbor division, and the enticement of revenge. Release all bitterness. Hold only love, only peace in your heart, knowing that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice. And if you follow your truth down the road to peace and the affirmation of love, if you shine like a beacon for all to see, then the poetry of all the great dreamers and philosophers is yours to manifest in a nation, a world community, and a beloved community that is finally at peace with itself.”

John Lewis

Please stay safe. Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in August.  Check out the Accountability Courts newsletter and the Court Professionals newsletter if you haven’t already.

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