September 2018

Hello again from the Courts Journal as we bring you news relevant to the Judicial Council of Georgia.  Writing this newsletter monthly was supposed to make this newsletter short and sweet but so much has happened in the last 30 days that this newsletter seems about the same length as a quarterly.  Regardless, let’s get to it. 

Of course, the investiture of now Chief Justice Harold Melton and Presiding Justice David Nahmias for the Supreme Court of Georgia is the biggest story, and they are now Chair and Vice Chair of the Judicial Council of Georgia too.  The Georgia House Chamber for the Investiture ceremony was packed. Former Chief Justice P. Harris Hines was the Master of Ceremonies (btw–there were some articles and profiles of CJ Hines as his term ended including Atlanta’s Grady High School’s profile of their famous alum).  Secretary Perdue did the introduction of Chief Justice Melton and the reception was joyful.  The ceremony was livestreamed and is archived here.  A summary of the event was posted by the Supreme Court of Georgia with many pictures.

Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren was sworn in to the Georgia Supreme Court.  The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Criminal Justice Reform Committee met on 9/12/2018 to continue their focus on the implementation of SB 407 (2018).  We interviewed Senior Judge Bryant Culpepper about a visit to a state prison in Davisboro, GA over the summer to visit a man he sentenced at the age of 18.  Somewhat related is a Court Improvement meeting hosted by the Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children (J4C) where 22 juvenile court judges from all across Georgia attended to learn and discuss best practices for improving justice for children.  Former J4C committee member, Betsy Imes, wrote a moving success story  that originated from the Coweta County Family Treatment Court.

First Place – Kailey Holley, Williams Elementary

Judge Gregory Fowler hosted an awards ceremony for our Savannah school age winners of the Judicial Council Law Day Art Contest, so they did not have to make the drive to Atlanta.   Judge Brian Amero’s Parent Accountability Court was featured in the National Judicial College Annual Report.  There has been some recent news coverage of the Dougherty County Legal Center and the Access to Justice (A2J) committee has more grant funding to be distributed to strengthen local self-representation programs; proposals are being accepted now at a cap of $5,000.  Contract Attorney Tabitha Ponder is awaiting an answer to a grant proposal to request hearing devices for every court district.  District Court Administrator and A2J committee member, Will Simmons, helped Tabitha with device testing and pricing for the proposal.  

Judge Lovett Bennett was sworn in as Superior Court Judge for the Ogeechee circuit. Judge Horace Johnson will receive the Frederick B. Kerr Service Award, given annually by Leadership Georgia, at a Newton County gala in November. 

The Department of Human Services won an award for its collaboration with the Courts and Judicial Council/AOC for its Parental Accountability Courts. Elaine Johnson, who is our expert lead staffer for Child Support work at the AOC, wrote an article about the positive impact the Parental Accountability Courts have on participants. 

On the national news for courts front: NACM has archived all their classes from their July Conference; there is a viz a thon (a court data visualization contest) underway sponsored by the National Center for State Courts with our own Christopher Hansard giving a testimonial at end of this series of explanatory videos; and the State Justice Institute has made funding available for a Public Engagement Pilot Project.

A tip from our JC/AOC Communications Judicial Fellow, Senior Judge James Bodiford, who happens to be honored this month by the Georgia First Amendment Foundation with the Weltner Freedom of Information Award;  “Listen to this NPR interview with Carlos Monje, Twitter’s head of public policy.  — I’m not focused on the subject matter per se but I thought this was a master class in how to respond to a press interview.  He tries to stick to his talking points, the interviewer makes it difficult for him to do that, so he switches gears and handles the conversation well. He comes across as intact and authentic to the listening audience.”

We close this issue recognizing that September 17 was Constitution Day.  Please tell us if you did anything special to celebrate it (Lunch and learn? Talk to school children?).  We’d love to write a story about it, especially if you have some pictures.  Bill of Rights Day (December 15) will be here before you know it, and tell us about those plans too. We’d love to help with your event, and tell a story about your activity with pictures or video in a future Courts Journal!

Talk to you in October.

 Your JC/AOC Courts Journal Newsletter team:  Michelle Barclay, Patricia Buonodono and Bruce Shaw