February 2023

Dear Courts Journal readers:

The Judicial Council of Georgia held a General Session via videoconferencing on February 10th, and that meeting was live-streamed and archived. Judicial Fellow and retired Judge Tain Kell was first on the agenda to announce that the Judicial Council/AOC marks its 50th anniversary in 2023, which provides a year-long opportunity to educate the legal community and the public about the work of the Judicial Council/AOC. To that end, we have started a series of short videos featuring past and present members of the Judicial Council, and are planning some presentations at various events throughout the year and throughout the state, including a Habitat for Humanity service event as an homage to former Governor and President Jimmy Carter whose vision–with the goal of forming a collaborative governance body for Georgia’s Judicial Branch–led to the passage of the legislation creating the Judicial Council in 1973. Chief Justice Boggs, as Chair of the Judicial Council, welcomed the Judicial Qualification Commission’s Interim Director, Courtney Veal, to that meeting as a guest and provided an  ARPA Funding Committee report, urging all judges to visit the newly-created  ARPA dashboard to monitor data and see status updates in real time. At that same meeting, Presiding Justice Peterson provided a report from the Legislation Committee as well as a humorous and helpful weather report. Director Clanton’s report was most informative including an announcement that a draft Courts Directory is complete.  Please, we invite you to review the information listed for your chambers before we print it! Send any corrections to Bruce Shaw before March 15.

Interviews for JC/AOC’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The February 10 Judicial Council General Session.
The ARPA Grant Dashboard.
The draft Georgia Courts Directory 2023-2024.

The Supreme Court had a historic moment with an all-female, in-person bench hearing oral arguments for a case in which DeKalb County Superior Court Chief Judge LaTisha Dear Jackson sat by designation. Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Christopher J. McFadden, Judge Trent Brown, and Judge Todd Markle took their court on the road to hear arguments in the Coffee High School Performing Arts Center in Douglas, Georgia.  February is Black History Month and we’ve enjoyed creating and posting collages to celebrate and thank our Georgia Judges for their service to our state.  We also thank Douglas County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Adams for reading to 2nd graders at Eastside Elementary School in Douglasville for WORLD READ ALOUD DAY!  Judge Adams is also organizing a Robes Reading Across Georgia event, please contact her if you want to be involved.  We loved the pictures of Valentine’s Day weddings held by multiple Georgia courts.

Black History Month 2023.
Georgia courts celebrate Valentine’s Day with many courthouse wedding ceremonies.

Thank you, Judge Rhodes, for speaking at our All Staff Meeting and providing great insights about courts and justice in your part of the state–Wilcox County. We enjoyed the pictures from Magistrate Court Judges’ Day and Probate Court Judges’ Day at the Capitol, and we just learned that the State of the Judiciary address will take place on March 8th at 11 am. A fourth Access to Justice Class was held and archived in partnership with GSU College of Law’s Center for Access to Justice. The Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism hosted State Bar of Georgia President Sally Akins’s Signature Professionalism CLE Program on February 22nd and the Georgia Bar, Media, and Judiciary Conference—which featured Judge McBurney and Chief Judge Amero—took place on February 24th. The Supreme Court of Georgia’s Commission on Dispute Resolution welcomed two new appointees: Judge Pandora E. Palmer, Henry County Superior Court; and Judge Vic Reynolds, Cobb County Superior Court. Thank you, Chief Justice Boggs for your continued work on the Veterans Justice Commission and your recent delivery of doughnuts to JC/AOC staffers, which were sublime!

The Councils for the Probate and Magistrate Court Judges held legislative days at the Capitol.
Judge Shawn Rhodes speaking at the JC/AOC All Staff Meeting.
Some very appreciated doughnuts from Chief Justice Boggs.

We enjoyed reading the Misdemeanor Mental Health Court Newsletter from Fulton County. We’ve also enjoyed the many civics posts, especially by the Supreme Court and those about the mock trials in Forsyth Courts.  With that same mission of increasing civics education, we’ve relaunched the Law Day Art Contest once againThat contest opened on February 24 and will close at midnight on April 3.  This year’s Law Day theme is Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility, and Collaboration and we are asking our Georgia students to use the cornerstone of their local courthouses as inspiration. Judges, please encourage your local schools to participate!  The Judicial Council of Georgia will vote on the winners of that contest at its April 21st meeting.  Here is a link to the Good Judge-Ment Podcast (Ep. 110 Brady Motions) and a link to the Council of Accountability Courts newsletter, just in case you missed it.  Congrats to Tee Barnes for her well-deserved Award from Mercer Law School.   Finally, we leave you with a reminder that there is a request for comments from the Judicial Council Standing Committee On Court Interpreters regarding amended rules for legal interpreting in Georgia which ends on March 31.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in March.

Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team:  Michelle BarclayNoelle Lagueux-AlvarezBruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott