Originally published in the Daily Report Online:
by Cedra Mayfield
What You Need to Know
Judges will answer questions from the public during an hour-long Twitter town hall.
Lawyers and judges can also submit questions.
The virtual event will take place on Constitution Day, Sept. 17, from noon to 1 p.m.
The tables have turned for a group of Georgia judges. Instead of asking the questions, they’ll soon be the ones answering them during a special one-hour Constitution Day Twitter Town Hall.
The Peach State jurists will crack open their laptops and put their Twitter fingers to work, candidly answering questions the public might not otherwise get the chance to ask.
But it’s only for an hour and only on Constitution Day, on Sept. 17.
Judge Stephen Dillard, Presiding Judge, Court of Appeals of Georgia, Atlanta.
“[I]t’s important for judges to directly engage the people we serve and educate them about the judiciary’s crucial role in safeguarding our rights and liberties under the federal and state Constitutions,” said Court of Appeals of Georgia Presiding Judge Stephen Dillard.
Dillard is one of more than a half-dozen judges who will answer tweeted questions in real time as part of the annual Constitution Day Twitter Town Hall event that the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts will host.
There are, however, some parameters.
According to event organizers, live-tweeted questions fielded from instructors, students and the general public will receive priority, but legal professionals are welcome to participate, too.
“We always get some good questions from the legal community as well,” wrote Bruce Shaw, the communications and outreach specialist for the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts in an email. “If there’s time, and it’s a good question, a judge will often answer.”
A flyer that the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts tweeted about the event advertised “judges from Georgia’s different classes of court will answer questions related to the Constitution and the role of judges.”
Presiding Judge, Anne Elizabeth Barnes, Court of Appeals of Georgia. Photo: John Disney/ALM Presiding Judge, Anne Elizabeth Barnes, Court of Appeals of Georgia. (Photo: John Disney/ALM)
Shaw revealed a tentative list of judicial participants that included Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Judge Charles Bethel, Court of Appeals of Georgia Presiding Judges Anne Barnes and Dillard, DeKalb County Superior Court Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson, State Court of Fayette County Judge Jason Thompson, Macon-Bibb County Judge Sarah Harris and Loganville Municipal Court Judge Lori B. Duff.
“I think it’s important for me as a judge to reach out to non-lawyers and participate in civic education,” wrote Barnes in an email. “I feel that participating in social media is, or can be when used judiciously, part of public service and enhance accessibility to justice. The key to a functioning democracy is an educated electorate. And Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets can certainly contribute to public education about the justice system.”
Like last year, Shaw said the judges would respond to tweeted questions from individual laptops while simultaneously being on a private Zoom call.
“We hosted a Zoom call for the judges to interact with one another and discuss the questions as they came up and decide amongst themselves who would field which question so that we get to as many questions as possible during the one-hour event,” Shaw said in an email. The virtual event is set to take place Friday, Sept. 17, from noon to 1 p.m.