Greetings Courts Journal readers:
February 2022 has been an eventful month! Chief Justice Nahmias delivered the State of the Judiciary Address in person at the State Capitol on February 8th, where he talked about the impact that the pandemic has had on the judiciary to date and will have for years to come. The address was streamed and archived which yielded many press articles. The Judicial Council held an efficient General Session on February 11th, during which updates on ARPA grants, the budget, and legislation were provided, and the Council of Superior Court Judges’ President, Judge Wade Padgett, thanked the Chief Justice for both the tone and content of the State of the Judiciary Address. Later on February 11th, we learned that Chief Justice Nahmias submitted his resignation letter to the Governor to be effective July 17, 2022. By February 14th, we learned that Court of Appeals Judge Andrew Pinson has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia and Judge Ben Land will take Judge Pinson’s seat on the Court of Appeals. We wish the Chief Justice all the best for his next chapter of life and congratulations to soon-to-be Justice Pinson, Judge Ben Land, Judge Ben Richardson who will be moving from Muscogee County State Court to the Superior Court for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, and John Martin who will also become a Superior Court Judge in the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit.
February is also Black History Month, and we’ve produced a social media series featuring some of our most experienced judges in Georgia providing advice to the next generation of lawyers and judges. We’ve really enjoyed doing this uplifting series, and it has been well received with some good attention and press. February also includes Valentines Day, and we enjoyed the stories of Fulton County Chief Magistrate Court Judge Cassandra Kirk and Fulton County Probate Court Judge Kenya Johnson performing weddings for their citizens on February 14th. Chief Judge Kirk also participated in our civics event for World Read Aloud Day where, despite being on Zoom, she impressively interacted with elementary students and drew out lots of participation on what it means to be a good citizen. Students’ hands were shooting up in the air as she called on them to discuss the books she had just read: “What Can a Citizen Do?” and “Tomorrow I’ll be Kind.” In further conversations with Chief Judge Kirk, we learned about the Fulton County Magistrate Court’s R.E.A.C.H. Clinic, which stands for the Rapid Education Assistance Court Help Clinic that provides assistance to litigants in small claims, garnishment, and private warrant applications cases, complementing its Housing Court Assistance Clinic for landlord-tenant cases.
Thank you Judge Elizabeth Emmanuel also from Fulton County Magistrate Court for speaking at our JC/AOC All Staff Meeting and providing sage advice on taking a leap of faith. The Judicial Council’s Access to Justice (“A2J”) Committee applauded news from Henry County of a new portal established for citizens seeking record restrictions. Both the A2J Committee and the Judicial COVID-19 Task Force held meetings this month. The Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution also held a meeting on February 9th, during which Commission member, Justice Ellington, swore in three new members: Judge Carrie B. Markham, Hon. Rebecca Crumrine Rieder, and Rep. Rob Leverett, and the Commission said, “goodbye for now” to Emily S. Bair, Esq., who had served the Commission since 2010. We loved this story about Cobb County State Court Judge Eric Brewton swearing in a new member to the State Bar of Georgia, Jacob Pruett, who is a former graduate of Judge Brewton’s DUI court, h/t Bob Bray. We interviewed our own Bryan Ashmore who serves as an IT support specialist for the JC/AOC.
We enjoyed learning about this first—a law student presenting oral arguments before the Georgia Court of Appeals. We also enjoyed reading about the inaugural Be Kind Scholarship recipient, Christopher Brock, and this spring’s Hines Jurist-in-Residence, Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren. The 31st annual Georgia Bar, Media & Judiciary Conference returned on February 23rd-25th with a fascinating three afternoons of virtual sessions geared toward judges, attorneys, journalists, and members of the public, and featured Chatham County Superior Court Judge Lisa Colbert and Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle on two separate panels. After a hiatus, we are again sponsoring a Law Day Art Contest in 2022. This year’s Law Day theme is “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in times of Change.” The submission window for that contest is now open and will close on April 1st. Winners will be selected by the members of the Judicial Council during their April General Session. Thank you GCCA for partnering with us again this year in support of the 2022 Law Day Art Contest. The Georgia Latino Law Foundation invites judges to host a 2L summer intern starting on May 31st, and hopes that the flexibility of the program–in person, all virtual, and hybrid options–allows for student placements in all classes of court all over the state. Please see this link for full information and to register to host an intern in your chambers this summer. We send congrats to Chief Judge Berryl A. Anderson, Chief Judge Connie J. Holt, and Chief Judge Brendan Murphy who were reappointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Magistrates Retirement Fund; Judge Garrison Baker was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Judges of the Probate Court Retirement Fund; Judge Ellen Golden and Judge Ron Mullins were reappointed to the Board of Trustees of the Judicial Retirement System of Georgia, and to Monica Welchel, Chief Clerk for Chief Judge Bryson Brandon, who just celebrated her 30th year with the Bartow County Magistrate Court. We’ll end this issue with the news that the Judicial Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on ARPA Funding met on Friday, February 18, to award grants to judicial circuits who applied for funding during the January 2022 cycle and the Committee will next accept grant applications from April 1, 2022, to April 15, 2022. The latest information on ARPA Grant funding for Georgia’s Judicial Branch may always be found here: https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/arpa/.
Call on us anytime. Talk to you in March.
Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team: Michelle Barclay, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, Bruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott