Dear Courts Journal Readers:
The eighth extension of the statewide judicial emergency was ordered by Chief Justice Melton on November 9, 2020, and will expire on December 9, 2020. The current statewide judicial emergency order continues to allow jury trials with this guidance and grand jury proceedings with this guidance, and orders that jury trials may resume once a trial safety plan has been developed by a local committee and at the discretion of the chief judge of each superior court. The AOC continues to serve as a repository for all trial safety plans which are housed on georgiacourts.gov. The Judicial Covid-19 Task Force continues its work with the Civil Subcommittee focusing on virtual jury trial procedures out of an abundance of caution in case those should be needed in the future, while the Criminal Subcommittee continues to explore potential legislative remedies for some pandemic-created issues. The PSA featuring Chief Justice Melton will likely be distributed widely on media platforms after the holidays.
Superior Court Chief Judge Chris Edwards of the Griffin Judicial Circuit wrote an article for the Daily Report titled Facing Repeated Pro Se Litigation which we have permission to republish, and we are most grateful to learn that he is also participating in a vaccine trial. We created three gratitude postings in collaboration with Judge Clyde Reese, Judge Render Heard, and Judge Shondeana Morris as the Thanksgiving date approached. We also worked to honor Veterans and Military Families Month by posting stories from Georgia’s Veterans Treatment Courts and a collage of a few judges that we know are veterans. Mercer Law School held two educational Zoom classes this month: one with Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Yvette Miller, Superior Court Judge Danny Craig, Chief Superior Court Judge Howard Simms, Judge Eric Dunaway, and Judge Heather Lanier focused on judicial leadership and another with Justice Michael Boggs on the need for legal services in rural Georgia.
Rep. Houston Gaines, Rep. Bonnie Rich, and Sen. Brian Strickland were appointed to the Georgia Child Support Commission and the staff of the Child Support Commission held multiple virtual CLEs this past month with more to come. The Judicial Council of Georgia’s Technology, Access to Justice, Judicial Workload Assessment, Legislation and Strategic Planning Committees met this month. JC/AOC staffer John Botero published another issue of the Court Professionals Newsletter. Presiding Justice Nahmias closed out a successful, 3-day, mostly-virtual Child Welfare Summit and announced that the 2021 Hines Award nominations are now open with two short videos from the 2020 Awardees about the meaning of these awards.
We enjoyed learning about Court of Appeals Judge Trea Pipkin’s perspective at the November JC/AOC staff mtg. We also enjoyed watching the livestream of the naming of “The Melt” at Auburn University in honor of Chief Justice Melton. Justice Michael Boggs was named chair of a newly-formed steering committee to guide Justice Counts—the largest, most comprehensive national effort to improve the availability and utility of criminal justice data. The Georgia CJCP was recognized in a 25 Year Anniversary Report by the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law for being “pioneering” in its approach to legal professionalism. There are 3 episodes of the Good Judge-ment Podcast to listen to this month: Speedy Trials; an Interview with the Chief Justice about Jury Trials; and Recidivism.
Kudos are in order for Judge Ethan Pham for his appointment as Chief Judge of the Lawrenceville Municipal Court and Judge Dennis Still for his retirement. We applaud Fulton County Juvenile Court for a wonderful virtual Adoption Day. Registration for the 27th Annual ADR Institute & 2020 Neutrals’ Conference is officially open! This year’s conference will be virtual and released on December 4.
Sadly, we lost another member of the judicial community due to complications from COVID-19, Justice George Carley passed away on Thanksgiving Day at the age of 82. Justice Carley served our state’s appellate courts for over 20 years and is remembered fondly by colleagues in several articles. Finally, we are not saying goodbye but until we meet again to Justice Keith Blackwell, Judge David K. Smith and our own JC/AOC staffer extraordinaire, Christopher Hansard, who will become the Cobb County Superior Court Administrator on December 16.
Please stay safe. Call on us anytime. Talk to you in December.
Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team: Michelle Barclay, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, Bruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott.