Greetings Courts Journal readers:
March 20th was the first day of Spring and the budding trees and flowers that we see across the state are most welcome. Our top story is that Presiding Justice Michael P. Boggs was unanimously elected by his colleagues to become the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia and Justice Nels S.D. Peterson will become the Presiding Justice which, of course, also means they will serve as Chair and Co-Chair of the Judicial Council of Georgia. These new roles will take effect on July 18, 2022. The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on ARPA Funding met on Wednesday, March 23, for an administrative meeting and awarded a grant to the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit. See the press release and complete list of CY 2022 awards; new applications will be accepted starting April 1. We kicked off March celebrating Women’s History Month with a social media series of some of our state’s most experienced judges providing advice to the next generation of lawyers and judges. Macon-Bibb County celebrated Justice Verda Colvin for Women’s History Month with a proclamation. We learned about Chief Judge Asha Jackson’s Project Pinnacle program last month when she joined our JC/AOC All Staff Meeting so we were delighted to read some media coverage on this program. We applaud the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Georgia Legal Services Program who jointly launched a new and improved website to help all Georgians navigate legal issues, see: https://www.georgialegalaid.org/. With Sine Die set for Monday, April 4th, the legislative session is quickly heading to a close and all JC/AOC updates are posted regularly in tandem with weekly legislative calls. We know our Chief Budget Officer, Andrew Zoll, was working hard this session because we interviewed him. The Supreme Court of Georgia hosted a meeting of the State Justice Institute’s Board of Directors earlier this week, and Supreme Court PIO, Kathleen Joyner, treated attendees to a tour of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center.
The window to submit artwork for our Law Day Art Contest closes at midnight on April 1 and while we have submissions, there is still time for Georgia students to show us their interpretation of this year’s Law Day theme: Toward a More Perfect Union. We look forward to celebrating the winners in May. Our partner for this art contest is the GCCA and we encourage you to listen to the latest InRecess podcast interviewing GCCA President Josh Weeks. We loved learning about the Georgia judges who participated in Read Across America day; Judge Jason Thompson read a Dr. Seuss book and Judge Cynthia Adams organized her fellow judges to read several books over Zoom to Georgia classrooms so we asked for pictures and video. We read the great press about the time capsule placed by Court of Appeals Vice Chief Judge Amanda Mercier and Supreme Court Chief Justice David Nahmias filled with items from the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals behind a commemorative bronze plaque near the front entrance of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, which officially concludes the building project. The Supreme Court also took a moment to formally recognize the Georgia Legal History Foundation for the time and effort it spent in making the Court’s 175th Anniversary celebration a success.
We thank the Judicial Council’s Access to Justice (A2J) Committee member, Vicky Kimbrell, for writing up her interview with that committee’s Chair, Justice Colvin, about improving access to justice in Georgia; loved learning about the standardized form packets for self-represented litigants. The A2J Committee held a joint retreat this month with the State Bar of Georgia’s Access to Justice Committee to discuss progress since the last strategic plan and to set goals for the future, a “podcast” of sorts was recorded in advance of the retreat to set the stage for the conversation. The Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee has been busy with both a Court Improvement Initiative meeting and a Parent Attorney Training. Chief Judge Robert Leonard chaired a Judicial Workload Assessment Committee meeting; Judge Sarah Doyle chaired a Strategic Plan Committee meeting; Judge Stephen Kelley chaired a Technology Committee meeting, and Justice Shawn LaGrua chaired a Judicial COVID-19 Task Force meeting this month. We learned that the Albany Works Initiative (a partnership between the City of Albany and the Albany Municipal Court) will address southwest Georgia recidivism. Congratulations to all the recipients of the 22nd Annual Justice Robert Benham Awards for Community Service awards and best wishes to Jones County Chief Magistrate and Probate Court Judge J. Mike Greene who is retiring; the state House passed a privileged resolution in recognition of his retirement.
Thank you Judge Andrew Pinson for speaking at our JC/AOC All Staff Meeting. We loved learning that you are a child of veterinarians (as is our Director), enjoyed the pictures of your dogs and your message that the role of all judges is to uphold the rule of law. Judge Trea Pipkin spoke at Judge Dear Jackson’s Accountability Court Graduation. Judge Dillard was busy at the High School Mock Trial competition on March 19. The Good Judge-ment podcast has a website—goodjudgepod.com—which houses all of its episodes and materials and don’t miss the March 1 Ep. 85: Unit of Prosecution and March 15 Ep. 86: Motion to Withdraw Plea. Please read DCSS Director John Hurst’s article in the national child support newsletter where he thanks the JC/AOC and Georgia’s Superior Court Judges for helping the agency improve its paternity establishment rate which means Georgia won’t lose federal dollars. In wellness news, we enjoyed the Lawyers Living Well podcast with Judge Wendy Shoob (check out min 16 where she discusses her 3 to 4 mile walk during her lunch break) and we updated our wellness page with two great articles from the Georgia Bar Journal: the first by State Bar Executive Director Damon Elmore discussing the success of the Lawyer Assistance Program and encouraging us all to “use your six” and the second by Megan Murren Rittle on how Henry County Magistrate Court Judge Amanda Flora manages her wellness after a recent multiple sclerosis diagnosis. We invite you to listen to this podcast from the NCSC featuring Judge Alicia Washington from the 10th Judicial Circuit of Illinois sharing how she practices empathy and approaches her job with compassion, particularly in virtual court. Now, to the tastiest part of this issue, we thank the Council of State Court Judges, especially President Wong and Executive Director Bob Bray, who presented us with delicious pies on Pi day! As we round out Women’s History Month, we leave you with a quote from former U.S. diplomat Madeleine Albright–our first female Secretary of State–who passed away last week. “I would make sure we talk to people with whom we disagree and try to understand where they’re coming from, not just tolerate them, but figure out what is motivating them.”
Call on us anytime. Talk to you in April.