September 2020

Dear Courts Journal Readers:

It is officially Fall and our top story continues to be the extension (6th) of the Order Extending Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency which runs through October 10th.  There were two Judicial Council meetings held in the month of September and all meetings were live streamed and archived on The judicial branch of Georgia is moving to restart grand juries and jury trials with these guidelines and safeguards in place, and recent coverage praised the Chief Justice for the work on the pandemic benchbook. JC/AOC staffer Robert Aycock wrote an article about the Magistrate Court Council’s management of COVID.

The September 21 Judicial Council meeting held via zoom.
Guidance for resuming jury trials.

September 17 was Constitution Day and we celebrated it with 18 Georgia Judges participating in a Twitter Town Hall answering student questions and a summary of those exchanges can be found here.  We interviewed Juvenile Court  Judge Ragsdale and Edwin Bell who just accepted a position with the NCSC as Director of Racial Equity, Fairness and Inclusion.  The September Good Judge-ment podcast episodes include Election Day Duties and Updates on COVID-19.  We’ve listened to a number of judges participate in other podcasts too, including:  Judge Verda Colvin; Judge Stephen Dillard; Judge Ken Hodges and an in-memoriam podcast with Judge Horace JohnsonUGA is establishing a Judge Horace J. Johnson, Jr. Lecture on Race, Law and Policy in honor of the late jurist. There is also a new national podcast that just kicked off hosted by four women state supreme court justices.

The Constitution Day Twitter Town Hall was held on September 17.
Associate Juvenile Court Judge Nancy Ragsdale .
Edwin Bell, Director of NCSC’s Racial Equity, Fairness and Inclusion.

The Council of Accountability Court Judges had a successful virtual conference with well deserved awards.  Cobb County held a Mental Health Court graduation. Judge Dax Lopez won an award from the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  We appreciate Judge Verda Colvin participating in our JC/AOC all staff meeting.  The Access to Justice Committee and staff have been hosting Records Restriction (Expungement) Town Halls and had a clinic in Columbus, Georgia this past month in partnership with Judge Gil McBride.  The Board of Court Reporting and the Justice for Children Committee met virtually in September.  The Judicial Council’s Standing Committee on Judicial Workload Assessment gave awards for Clearance Rate Excellence.

CACJ gave out their annual awards at this year’s conference.
Judge Verda Colvin, Georgia Court of Appeals, spoke at the JC/AOC all-staff meeting.
JWAC’s Clearance Rate Excellence Awards.

We said “see you later” to JC/AOC staffer Tynesha Manuel who took a job as Senior Deputy Clerk for the Business Court.  Just in case you missed these judicial branch changes, Judge Connie Williford is the newest Superior Court judge in the Macon Judicial Circuit as is Judge Gregory Voyles for the Southern Judicial Circuit, both appointed by Governor Kemp.  Judge Colbert was elected to the Superior Court bench in Chatham County. Juvenile Court Judge Nhan-Ai Simms succeeded Judge Rodatus in Gwinnett County and Juvenile Court Judge Kelli Rutherford succeeded Judge Phil Spivey in the Ocmulgee Circuit. Judge Ben Miller was appointed to the Superior Court bench in the Griffin Circuit and was succeeded by Judge Stephen Ott in his place as the Juvenile Court Judge.  Judges Amanda Trimble and Kamau Hull were recently appointed to the Western Circuit’s juvenile courts.  Please let us know if we missed any announcements.  Finally, we were happy to learn that the Student Center at Auburn University has been named in honor of Chief Justice Melton and we so enjoyed wishing him a happy birthday last week.

JC/AOC staff and affiliates (tried to) sing “Happy Birthday” as a group.

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

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