May 2021

Greetings Georgia Courts Journal Readers:

May kicked off with a Judicial Council Emergency Session on May 4th to discuss the Fourteenth Order Extending Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency which was entered on May 8, 2021 and which continues to move Georgia courts toward pre-COVID operations while encouraging continued public health safeguards. The Supreme Court of Georgia announced that in-person oral arguments will resume at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center on June 9th. The #JusticeNeedsJurors PR campaign will continue through most of June.  This month saw many Law Day celebrations.  The 2021 Law Day theme, as set by the American Bar Association, was “Advancing the Rule of Law Now”.  The JC/AOC hosted a civics event with Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rachel R. Krause and Fulton County 8th grade students who asked insightful questions. We also created a compilation of self-study recommendations about the rule of law collected from Judicial Council members: Presiding Justice David Nahmias, Vice Chief Judge Brian Rickman, Judge Kelli Wolk, Judge Quinn Kasper, Judge Lisa Jones and Judge Lori Duff.   The first week of May was Public Service Recognition Week and we made a kudos board to thank our colleagues for their dedicated service.  Georgia had six tornadoes touch down on May 10th.  During that severe weather outbreak, AOC staff took refuge in the basement for about 30 minutes and we hope all of you suffered no harm.

Reading recommendations from Judicial Council of Georgia members on the subject of the rule of law.

Judge Rachel R. Krause speaking to middle schoolers at two Fulton County Schools about the rule of law.

Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian Pacific American Heritage Month are also celebrated in May, and the Georgia Judicial Branch participated in both.  For the former, there was a call during the Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism’s  recent Suicide Awareness Program for a “safe space for judges” to manage mental health better.  In addition, Superior Court Judge Shondeana Morris,  Juvenile Court Judge Render Heard, Magistrate Court Judge Cassandra Kirk, and former Magistrate/Probate Court Judge TJ Hudson participated in a CLE event presented by the State Bar’s Attorney Wellness Committee called “Living Well to Practice Well: Well-Being and Practical Skills.”    In addition, Justice Michael Boggs recently presented the first Judge Goss Memorial Leadership Award to retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Stratton, Dr. Kristen Ochoa of California, and Dr. Mark Munetz of Ohio for their groundbreaking work in Mental Health Court initiatives across the country.  For the latter, we created a collage of Georgia’s Asian judges for social media which we encourage you to share and Justice Carla McMillian participated in a panel entitled Paths to Success as well as an ABC national program.   Rounding out May’s festivities, we loved Judge Jason Thompson’s celebration of “May the 4th Be With You” with a fabulous Star Wars Suit.

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and we highlight the Asian Pacific American judges in almost every class of the state judicial branch.
L to R: Michelle Barclay, Judge Render Heard, and Judge Cassandra Kirk prior to the  Living Well to Practice Well: Well-Being and Practical Skills CLE hosted by the State Bar of Georgia on May 5.

The State-wide Business Court held in-person proceedings for the first time resulting in this great profile of Judge Walter Davis.   A number of Georgia’s judges’ councils held hybrid educational conferences which at this time of year traditionally include leadership changes and awards as was the case for the Councils of State, Magistrate, Probate and Juvenile Court Judges.  Summer interns will be starting soon in the courts, including the 5th Phipps fellow, Torryn Carter, at the Court of Appeals. May is National #DrugCourtMonth and we collected some stories in a social media  post.  In addition, our pro bono summer intern, Alice Culpepper (yes, she is related to both Judge Culpeppers), started early by attending Cobb County’s hybrid Mental Health Graduation to give us a short write upGwinnett County Judges conducted an outreach program for Korean Americans.  The JC/AOC staffed meetings for the Judicial Council’s Access to Justice Committee, the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice for Children, and the Judicial COVID-19 Taskforce. The Office of Governmental and Trial Court Liaison published the annual Summary of Enacted Legislation. The Judicial Council’s Access to Justice Committee’s Virtual Record Restriction Clinic for the Tifton Judicial Circuit took place on May 22nd.  For the final time, Chief Justice Melton spoke at our May JC/AOC All Staff Meeting.

Leadership changes and awards were given out at the council conferences for State, Juvenile, Probate, and Magistrate Court judges.
Chief Justice Melton addressing the JC/AOC staff meeting on May 25th.
The 2021 Summary of Enacted Legislation.

Judge Stephen Dillard again participated in a podcast urging judges to embrace social media. We interviewed Tracy B. Johnson, Executive Director of the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution, about the recently-enacted Georgia Uniform Mediation Act.  We learned about Georgia judges giving graduation speeches this month, including: Justice Sarah WarrenCourt of Appeals Judge Yvette Miller and Superior Court Judge Angela Duncan. Please let us know if you gave a graduation speech as we’d love to promote it.  We also enjoyed this post about a successful panel discussion featuring Justice Shawn LaGrua, Judge Elizabeth Gobeil, and Judge Verda Colvin hosted by the Savannah Bar Association.  We said goodbye to our long-time colleague, Monte Harris, who leaves the JC/AOC for a new role with the Georgia General Assembly after over 20 years of service.  Check out these resources, if you do not know about them already:  the Council of Accountability Court Judges monthly newsletter, the Good Judge-ment Podcast, and the GCCA’s new podcast series called “In Recess.”  Please watch out for your copy of the printed Courts Directory which you should have received by now.  Please let us know if you have not received it, and know that we work all year long to keep the on-line directory current. 

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in June.

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