July 2021

Greetings Courts Journal Readers:

July began with the heartwarming investiture of Chief Justice Nahmias and Presiding Justice Boggs that was live streamed and archived, and which means, of course, that the Judicial Council of Georgia has a new Chair and Vice Chair.  On July 15th, the Judicial Council held an emergency session to discuss the state of post-judicial-emergency operations that included a Judicial COVID-19 Task Force report from Justice LaGrua, a report from Justice Peterson on a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to Chief Justices/State Court Administrators that addresses eviction proceedings, and an update from Presiding Justice Boggs on American Rescue Plan Act funding.  The 36-minute meeting was archived on our YouTube channel, see:  https://www.youtube.com/c/judicialcouncilofgeorgia and we invite you to subscribe! The next Judicial Council meeting will be in-person in Columbus on August 13th and live streamed to our Youtube channel.

The Investiture of Chief Justice David E. Nahmias.
State Court Judges R. Violet Bennett and Alvin T. Wong with JC/AOC Director Cynthia Clanton before heading to the investiture.
The July 15th Judicial Council Emergency Session.

Many new judicial appointments were made this month.  Congratulations to all!  New Georgia Supreme Court Justice, Verda Colvin, was sworn in at a ceremony at the Georgia Capitol on July 29th and we enjoyed this podcast shared by the Supreme Court of Georgia which includes a delightful conversation with Justice Colvin.  We had a wonderful interview  with Elizabeth Fite, President of the State Bar of Georgia, who was sworn in to her new position on June 12, 2021.  We also welcome relatively-new State Bar Executive Director and fellow bicycle enthusiast, Damon Elmore, who has joined a few Judicial Council Committee meetings.  We appreciated this video produced by the Georgia Capitol Museum about the important work of the Supreme Court of Georgia featuring Chief Justice NahmiasJustice McMillian’s family story was profiled by the Augusta Chronicle.  We also enjoyed listening to this podcast featuring Judge Dillard with others, titled “How to Use Social Media to Bring the Public Closer to the Court” and Judge Dillard was a guest on the “See You in Court podcast” with @robinfclark and @LesterTate.

Judicial Appointees from Governor Kemp’s July 20th announcement.
President of the State Bar of Georgia Elizabeth Fite joined us for an interview.

We loved learning about the recent Fulton and Cobb County Magistrate Court efforts to host vaccine clinics for their communities.  Thank you Judge Cassandra Kirk and Judge Brendan Murphy, and your colleagues.  Judge Murphy was also included in a recent White House convening where he described his county’s eviction prevention program. The portrait unveiling of Judge Debra Bernes took place on July 13th at the Court of Appeals with a touching tribute by her dear friend, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark. Please listen to Good Judge-ment Podcast episodes: Ep. 65 Mandatory Minimums on July 6 and Ep. 66 Legitimation on July 20.  Cobb County opened its “Second Chance Desk” in partnership with the Georgia Justice Project.  We were moved by the Northeastern Judicial Circuit’s celebration for its Accountability Courts’ anniversaries and Jackson County’s celebration of a treatment court graduate and 21 drug-free babies.   JC/AOC’s John Botero published a new Georgia Court Professionals Newsletter.

Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan Murphy presenting on a panel convened by the White House on eviction prevention.
Judge Mary Staley Clark beside a portrait of Judge Debra Bernes.
Graduations of Accountability Courts.

July means the start of a new state fiscal year, and the JC/AOC Fiscal Administration  Division has been working hard completing fiscal-year-end tasks.  We’re taking this occasion to feature our CFO, Drew Townsend, in this staff profile. The JC/AOC was busy with committee meetings this month, including: Judicial Workload Assessment, Legislation, Budget, Technology, Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, as well as providing Strategic Plan Committee updates. Two bench cards have been updated to reflect changes following the passage of S.B 105 (2021): Felony Probation: Georgia and U.S. Constitutional Law and Misdemeanor Probation: Georgia and U.S. Constitutional Law.  We send best wishes in retirement to Chief Juvenile Court Judges Deborah Edward and Rusty Jackson, Chief Magistrate Judge Walker Bramblett and Probate Court Judge Mary Jo Buxton.

JC/AOC Chief Financial Officer Drew Townsend.
The JC/AOC Budget Committee held a meeting on July 21st.
The newly updated Misdemeanor Probation Bench Card.

We are pleased to highlight community engagement efforts by two State Court Judges. Judge Elizabeth Coolidge was inducted as the 24th President of the Rotary Club of Savannah Sunrise and Judge Violet Bennett welcomed children participating in a summer program with the Wayne County Junior Police Academy when she discussed the role of the judiciary in our justice system and even took a mock plea from a participant. We applaud Judge Bennett’s hands-on civics education effort and share an opportunity for you to become more involved with civics education.  JC/AOC staff members are organizing a Twitter Town Hall to answer questions from students through Twitter on Constitution Day, Friday September 17, 12-1pm.  If you have a Twitter account and would like to participate, please email noelle.lagueux-alvarez@georgiacourts.gov.  We leave you with a short video produced by the NCSC Tiny Chats team with excellent Zoom tips from an experienced court employee (loved the noise-reduction tip for barking dogs in the background).  Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your summer.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in August.

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