January 2022

Happy New Year Courts Journal readers:

2022 opened with a Judicial Council emergency session to address the Omicron surge, archived at: https://youtu.be/lw_CTq4BFWY.  During that meeting, Chief Justice Nahmias offered guidance on measured responses and urged the judicial branch to remain “diligent, creative, compassionate, and professional.”  To all of you and your families who have contracted COVID-19 (and the JC/AOC had our share), we wish all of you a full recovery.  Here is hoping that 2022 gets better from this month forward as it appears this current surge has peaked and is now declining.  The Judicial COVID-19 Task Force met this month to discuss the Omicron surge and its plans to revise the Pandemic Bench Book with lessons learned over the last two years.  The second ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) grant application window opened on January 1, 2022 and closed on January 18, 2022.  Updated grant documents may be accessed under “Quick Links” at https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/arpa/.  Our own JC/AOC employee, Michelle Barclay, has been serving on a grand jury for Fulton County this past month where she reports COVID-19 protocols are closely followed, everyone is kind and professional, and there are so many criminal cases to get through (which is not news to any of our readers).

The Judicial Council met for an Emergency Session on January 7th.
The Judicial COVID-19 Task Force met on January 12th.
For more information about ARPA funds available to courts visit https://jcaoc.georgiacourts.gov/arpa/.

The legislative session began this month and, as always, our team is keeping track and posting updates on legislation.georgiacourts.gov. We interviewed our new Chief Financial Officer, Maleia Wilson, as she moved from JC/AOC Budget Director to CFO on January 1.   Andrew Zoll has recently come on board as the JC/AOC’s new Budget Director and we look forward to interviewing him in the future.  We enjoyed interviewing two Judicial Council members–Court of Appeals of Georgia Chief Judge Brian Rickman and Council of State Court Judges President, Judge Alvin Wong–and we added their videos to our interview series, Meet the Members of the Judicial Council of Georgia.  We interviewed Union City Court Administrator and Chief Clerk, Kristie Tucker, who works for Municipal Court Chief Judge Ronald J. Freeman, Sr., about their resource center which just won Project of the Year from the Georgia Municipal Court Clerks’ Council (GMCCC).  We’ve had two snowfalls in Georgia this month, which impacted some more than others, and we enjoyed Judge Duff’s local article about driving in the snow-don’t do it.

“Meet the Judicial Council Members” profile of Court of Appeals of Georgia Chief Judge Brian M. Rickman.
“Meet the Judicial Council Members” profile of Judge Alvin T. Wong, DeKalb County State Court and Council of State Court Judges President.
An interview with JC/AOC new CFO Maleia Wilson.
Municipal Court of Union City’s Court Administrator Kristie Tucker and Chief Judge Ronald J. Freeman, Sr.

Some of the best news kicking off 2022 was the Georgia Bulldogs’ victory in the College Football National Championship which the Supreme Court took time to celebrate.  We enjoyed Judge Vi Bennett’s mailman picture and story (see below. h/t Bob Bray).  We are updating our Georgia Courts poster which should be ready soon.  Please let us know if you would like some for your school visits, other events, or when guests visit your court. We loved Judge Thompson’s post about presiding over a mock trial.  Congratulations to Charlie Bailey, Ana Maria Martinez, Ronnie Thompson, and Richard Reed on their new judicial appointments.  We watched this national event, Safety and Justice Deserve Better Data: Justice Counts National Launch, which featured Presiding Justice Michael Boggs as a speaker.  A hearty welcome is extended to Lynne Moore Nelson, Esq. who will serve as Georgia’s new ICJE Director.  We look forward to working with you.  Thank you Chief Judge Asha Jackson for speaking at our January all staff meeting where she noted the statewide expansion of Project Pinnacle, a one-year mandatory in-court experience for non-violent offenders under the age of 25.  Our Program Manager in our Office of Court Professionals, John Botero, was welcomed to Johnson Knights High School in Gainesville and shared certification and licensing procedures for a career as a Court Interpreter. Students got some practice and found their language skills could lead to a career with the Georgia Courts.

The Georgia Supreme Court celebrated UGA’s national championship victory.
Wayne County State Court Judge Violet Bennett (center) in Indianapolis to watch her first cousin once removed Stetson Bennett in the 2022 College Football National Championship (Credit: Curtis Thompson, AJC).
New “Georgia’s Court System” posters will be available soon!

We read U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts’s End of Year Report and we listened to two good episodes of the Good Judge-ment Podcast, Ep. 81: Rule 22 and Ep. 82: Gialenios v. State, Part IChief Justice David E. Nahmias and Justice Sarah Hawkins Warren virtually visited UGA School of Law and shared advice on and insights about clerking for the state’s highest court and we learned that Justice Warren is also serving as the Hines Jurist in Residence for UGA teaching a course called “Persuading the Judge & Jury.”  Superior Court Judges Tangela Barrie, LaTisha Dear Jackson, Kellie Hill, and Tadia Whitner participated in a panel discussion via Zoom for a Family Law Section CLE during the @StateBarofGA Mid-Year Meeting.  We also enjoyed the Judges Panel Series featuring the Georgia Court of Appeals Judges which was a CLE produced by the Atlanta Bar Association. We look forward to GSU College of Law’s Center for Judicial Engagement’s Forum on the Georgia Constitution featuring Judge Dillard and Justice Blackwell, among others, on February 4.   The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) is presenting a free monthly virtual series to support the wellness of those working in the judiciary and courts, for more information or to register please see:  https://events.ourfamilywizard.com/ncjfcj-monday-morning-moments. We send condolences to the family of Talbot County Probate/Magistrate Judge Sherrell Terry, who passed away suddenly. May her memory be a blessing to her loved ones.  We’ll close with the good quote posted by the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism (CJCP) on MLK Day.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in February.

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