October 2020

Dear Courts Journal Readers,

Our top story is the seventh extension of the statewide judicial emergency, which was ordered by Chief Justice Melton on October 10, 2020 and expires on November 9, 2020.  Returning discretion to local jurisdictions, the latest statewide judicial emergency order lifts the ban on jury trials with this guidance, and grand jury 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 serves as a repository for all trial safety plans and, once finalized, those plans should be submitted here.  Organized by circuit and county, all trial safety plans thus far received may be found here

The Seventh Order Extending Statewide Judicial Emergency has generated a number of news stories, and inspired a new statewide PSA with the message “#JusticeNeedsJurors” as well as a PSA made by Fulton County Superior Court’s Chief Judge Chris Brasher and an interview with Dekalb County Chief Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson.  The goal of this public outreach is to show what has been learned and developed over the past six months to put protective measures in place for the welfare of all those who enter courthouses while continuing to provide justice for all Georgians. Two Judicial Council meetings were held in the month of October and all meetings were live streamed and archived on https://www.youtube.com/judicialcouncilofgeorgia.  JC/AOC staffer Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez interviewed Athens-Clarke County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lott to learn how she has adapted her courtroom operations since COVID-19.  We mourn the loss of Probate Court Judge Karen Batten of Brantley County

Read our interview with Judge Lisa Lott.
A new PSA featuring Chief Justice Melton to encourage Georgians to serve as jurors when summoned.
Judge Karen Batten tragically passed away from COVID-19 this month.

Presiding Justice Nahmias was interviewed in a podcast about the Court Improvement Program, which funds the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Justice for Children Committee.  Superior Court Chief Judge Brian Amero participated in a National Judicial College civics program titled “Reading and Robes” with local Henry county students.  Judge Michael Key and JC/AOC staffer Jerry Bruce had fun with an interactive zoom seminar sponsored by ICJE.  Retired Justice Robert Benham published an article in Law360. We thank Judge Dax Lopez for speaking at this month’s JC/AOC staff meeting. 

Presiding Justice Nahmias was interviewed on the CIP podast.
Chief Judge Brian Amero participated in the NJC civics program “Reading and Robes.”
Judge Dax Lopez spoke at the JC/AOC all staff meeting.

We were delighted to interview the new JC/AOC Chief Technology Officer, Ben Luke, who we are thankful to have received from the Council of Superior Court Judges. Chief Judge David Emerson, Cynthia Clanton and other JC/AOC staffers participated in a Combatting Disinformation Campaigns Against the Courts seminar. JC/AOC staffer, Elaine Johnson, wrote an article for a National Child Support magazine. The Council of Accountability Court Judges rolled out a beautiful new website this month.  The Supreme Court of Georgia was a recipient of a First Amendment award for transparency in managing the COVID-19 crisis.  Chief Judge T. Russell McClelland was awarded the Ogden Doremus-Kent Lawrence Award from the Council of State Court Judges. The Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution received the “Moving the Work Forward Award” at the 26th Annual Family Violence Conference. The Georgia State-Wide Business Court was profiled in national and local media.  

Chief Judge T. Russell McClelland received the 2020 Ogden Doremus-Kent Lawrence Award.
CACJ has a new website: https://cacj.georgia.gov/

Congratulations to newly-appointed Alcovy Circuit Superior Court Judge Cheveda McCamy; newly-elected President of the Georgia Council of Court Administrators Robin Rooks; newly-appointed Flint Circuit Superior Court Judge Pandora Palmer and Henry County State Court Judges Vinny Lotti and Danielle Roberts; reappointed Rockdale County Juvenile Court Judge Maureen Wood and new Doraville Municipal Court Judges Jennifer Mann, Vanessa Kosky, and Chong Kim.  Please let us know if we missed anyone as we have been scanning news articles and social media posts.  Finally, we leave you with these wellness resources shared by the State Bar of Georgia featuring the Army’s new guidance for “strategic and aggressive napping” in addition to a Harvard Business Review article on breathing techniques to reduce stress.

Clockwise from top-left: Judge Chevada McCamy, swearing-in for Judge Maureen Wood, Judge Vinni Lotti, Judge Pandora Palmer, swearing-in for Judge Danielle Roberts, and the swearing in for Judges Vanessa Kosky and Chong Kim.

Please stay safe. Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in November.

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