The Judicial Council of Georgia, chaired by Chief Justice Boggs, held a General Session in person at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta on August 18th, which was live-streamed and archived. During that meeting, the Judicial Council heard a report from the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee, judges from Judicial Circuits requesting new judgeships spoke, and the Judicial Council conducted an electronic vote to prioritize recommendations for new judgeships that it will present to the Georgia General Assembly. The Judicial Council also welcomed Senator John Kennedy and Representative Soo Hong who presented resolutions from the Georgia Senate and the Georgia House of Representatives in honor of the Judicial Council/AOC’s 50th anniversary. We are grateful to both of them for sponsoring those resolutions, for being with us in person to present them, for their kind words, and for their service to our state especially as lawyer legislators. There is still time for any member of the judiciary to join us at our Habitat for Humanity service event which is now happening on September 30, 2023 in Cobb County; please send an email to AOC Director Cynthia Clanton or Judge Tain Kell if you want to swing a hammer or a paint brush.
Hurricane Idalia moved through southern Georgia, leaving a trail of downed trees and damaged infrastructure. We haven’t received any reports of damaged courthouses, and we hope that holds true. Local Judicial Emergency Orders have been posted here. Thank you Chief Judge Jeff Hanson and Judge Warner Kennon for allowing us to interview you for our “Meet the Members of the Judicial Council” webpage. The Summary of Enacted Legislation for 2023 is now published. The Court of Appeals welcomed Senior Judge C. Andrew Fuller to serve on that court temporarily as Senior Appellate Judge Herbert Phipps recovers from health challenges, and we send our best wishes to Judge Phipps. We enjoyed Justice John Ellington’s heartfelt remarks about Judge Phipps and the advice he gave to lawyers newly admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Georgia on August 23rd. Congratulations to Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Ben Land who was sworn in to serve on the Georgia Child Support Commission. We loved the news of free Friday weddings being provided by the Fulton County Probate Court. This year for Constitution Day (September 17th), we are working with animators to produce a series of short videos called, “Your Constitution in Action.” In addition, we’d love to support judges who would be willing to read a book about the Constitution to an elementary school in their community. We’ll send you books to read, and we’d love pictures of you reading in return! Remember pictures should show only the backs of children’s heads, as we’ll share those on social media for all of September in honor of Constitution Day! Sign up here to participate and to pick suggested books. To engage with older students, another option is to play “Know Your Rights”–an online game offered by iCivics–that is both fun and engaging.
An Access to Justice Committee meeting, chaired by Justice Colvin, discussed sustainable funding for legal self-help centers and early resolution of eviction cases. In early August, fifty-three representatives from judicial circuits throughout the state attended ARPA technical assistance training provided by the Judicial Council/AOC’s ARPA Team, which covered reimbursement procedures, supporting documentation, the new reimbursement checklist, and the grant award extension. In addition, continuously-updated information on the ARPA grant process may be found on the Judicial Council/AOC’s ARPA grant webpage. Our IT Division has been very busy working on a new georgiacourts.gov website, a new virtual calendaring system, setting up a new grant management tool, and hosting a meeting for the newly-reestablished Criminal Case Data Exchange Board (“CDX Board”). Thank you Judge Warren Davis and Judge Regina Matthews of Gwinnett County and Judge Amanda Petty of the Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit for hosting staff members for our court observation program.
Reminder, the Superior and State Court Appellate Practice Act, formerly H.B. 916, went into effect on July 1, 2023. The Judicial Council/AOC has developed training on the new procedures required by that Act. We enjoyed watching the Supreme Court hear oral arguments at John Marshall Law School which were archived. We also enjoyed this month’s In Recess Podcast which featured T.J. BeMent, District Court Administrator for the Tenth Judicial Administrative District, and Lynn Epps, Retired Trial Court Administrator, and two new episodes of the Good Judge-ment Podcast; Ep. 123: Name Change Actions and Ep. 124: Ethics for Judges. We offer condolences to the family and colleagues of Judge John W. Worcester who recently passed away and we thank Georgia CASA for this loving post in honor of him and his service to all of us. We will also miss Sonny Seiler who recently passed away. He was an original member of the modern Judicial Council of Georgia and we leave you with this video which we made after he was kind enough to stop by for a meeting in 2017 to speak with us.
Call on us anytime. Talk to you in September.