March 2021

Our top stories are the 2021 State of the Judiciary speech by Chief Justice Melton—his final— which he delivered in person to the Georgia General Assembly on March 16th and also live-streamed, as well as the news that court personnel became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on March 17th.   A number of court personnel told us that their communities immediately jumped into action to get their local court staff vaccinated including Forsyth County Courts, Fulton County Superior Court and Magistrate Court, Hall County Courts, and the City of Suwanee.  The AOC also reached out to Kroger pharmacy which responded immediately and set up a clinic for the justices, judges, and staff near the Capitol.   A number of folks reported feeling good about the start of this collective process of building immunity after the year-long virus threat.  T.J. BeMent shared poignant remarks in this NCSC article about lessons learned over this past year.  We looked back at our “day in the life” story featuring Judge Berryl Anderson which, despite our plans, we never posted in March 2020.  We share it now to offer perspective, and as a reminder of just how much has changed and will continue to change.

Chief Justice Melton delivered the 2021 State of the Judiciary on March 16th.
Judges and court staff across the state began receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, becoming eligible on March 17th.

The 2021 legislative session comes to an end today (March 31, 2021) by midnight.  You can track what happened at  The Judicial Council’s public service announcement campaign, #JusticeNeedsJurors, is well underway.  Data analytics show that many eyes have seen this video and we hope it helps the courts with the complex task of resuming jury trials.  The Chief Justice also discussed the need for jurors with Rose Scott on WABE and Frank Ski’s radio show.  In case you missed it, we have a video link to the interesting panel discussion titled “COVID-19 and the Courts” with Chief Justice Melton, Justice LaGrua, and Judge Amero, moderated by Judge Edlein, from the Georgia Bar Media & Judiciary Conference. There are two upcoming conferences that also have Georgia judges on the agenda: the CJCP Suicide Awareness Program on April 30th and the State Bar’s “Living Well to Practice Well: Well-Being and Practical Skills” on May 5th.

March was #WomensHistoryMonth and we thank all the women judges working on the Judicial Council and its committees for allowing us to profile them.  We’ve enjoyed the posts about the appellate practice course at Mercer Law School with Judge Dillard, Justice McMillian, and Justice Boggs and this is an opportunity to remind you about the article, The Robed Tweeter: Two Judges’ Views on Public Engagement, written by Judge Dillard and Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack.  We had an opportunity to interview the new Court of Appeals Chief Financial Officer, Chris WalkerChief Judge Margaret Washburn, Sugar Hill Municipal Court, joined our JC/AOC all-staff meeting this month where she taught us about the wide variety of cases that come before the municipal courts in Georgia.  Douglas County Juvenile Court Judge Peggy Walker (ret) made a video about lessons learned and next steps as we close out a SAMHSA-funded pilot grant administered by the JC/AOC, focused on best practices when courts are involved with infants with prenatal substance exposure and their families.

Featuring 23 Women Judges of Georgia

Court of Appeals Presiding Judge Yvette Miller spoke at a webinar, All Rise: The Evolution of Black Women in the JudiciaryGCCA had a successful hybrid conference in March. The CJCP produced a wonderful webinar on March 19, The Necessity of Unparalleled Unity and Cobb County Courts hosted implicit bias training which received good press. Houston County celebrated breaking ground for a new courthouse for their state courtThe Good Judge-ment Podcast conducted excellent interviews over the past couple of months with Judge Walter Davis, Judge Robert McBurney (Part 1 and Part 2!), and Judge Keith Wood.  We loved the virtual tour of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center developed by the Supreme Court of Georgia in partnership with the Georgia Center for Civic Engagement which reminds us of our May 2021 Law Day request to you.   What is a book that inspired you about the Rule of Law (this year’s Law Day theme) and your chosen profession that you would recommend to students?  We are planning to make a reading list for our DOE partners to celebrate Law Day all month long. We’ll make a social media post about you and the book you recommend (you’ll approve it before posting, of course!). We are also planning a panel discussion with three Fulton County middle schools and Fulton County Judges on May 7, 2021.  Finally, if you are participating in any Law Day activities, please let us know as we’d love to promote your good civics education efforts.  In the meantime, stay well while you send us a book recommendation!

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in April.

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