September 2022

Happy Fall Courts Journal Readers:

Constitution Day was September 17th and the JC/AOC celebrated with an online civic engagement event titled #JudgesReadMeaningfulTweets in which our good partners helped us to reach out to Georgia teachers and students encouraging them to submit questions about the Constitution.  Then those questions were answered via video by Judicial Council members and Georgia judges all across the state and shared on social media. In further celebration of Constitution Day, Justice Bethel and Chief Judge Rickman wrote an op-ed for the AJC about the importance of civics education and judicial branch engagement and press coverage was positive.  We are grateful once again to all our judges who set up their cameras and filmed themselves after long days of trials and hearings to participate in this Constitution Day celebration. To quote Chief Judge Rickman: “All of us have a role to play if we are to reverse . . . trends of eroding trust, especially those of us who represent our civic institutions.” We noticed your videos uploaded late in the evenings and we thank you. We also learned that Judge Jeremy Baker delivered the Constitution Week keynote address titled Law Today, Law Tomorrow, and the Law Every Day at Valdosta State University.

Georgia #judgesreadmeaningfultweets.
"Georgia judges want to be part of improving the public's trust and confidence in their state courts."

We thank retired Judge Keegan Federal who wrote an article for us on special mastersEdwin Bell, former JC/AOC employee and current NCSC Director of Racial Equality, published an article in Judicature calledHelping Courts Address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.” The Court of Appeals held off-site oral arguments at Mercer University this month and also sponsored a very important CLE on the 1964 murder of Col. Lemuel Penn which was live-streamed and archived.  The State Bar of Georgia sponsored a Wellness CLE which included a panel of Georgia judges (Judges Wong, Heard, and McCord moderated by Judge Shondeana Morris) discussing work/life balance, decision fatigue, compassion fatigue, and more. The Georgia Bar Journal had a great article by Judicial Council member and State Bar President Sally Akins about her commitment to improving and promoting professionalism during her tenure.  The GCCA had a very successful conference with Chief Justice Boggs making opening remarks and swearing in the new officers, and our own Ben Luke and Shimike Dodson were among the many presenters.  The Conasauga Bar dedicated the main courtroom in the Whitfield County Courthouse to Chief Judge William T. Boyett to honor his long legacy of judicial service.

Left: JC/AOC Staff at the Georgia Council of Court Administrators Annual Meeting. Middle: A panel with Senior Judge Herbert Phipps, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, and Chief Judge Brian Rickman at the CLE The Murder of Colonel Lemuel Penn. Right: Judges Alvin Wong, Matthew McCord, Render Heard and Shondeana Morris at the State Bar’s Wellness CLE.

We were fortunate to visit south Georgia to  film some of our Judicial Council members such as Judge Jay Stewart and Judge Vi Bennett for our continuing series, “Meet the Members of the Judicial Council.”  We enjoyed Chief Judge Sams appearing at our all-staff meeting and sharing with us his most embarrassing moments on the bench.  We interviewed JC/AOC staffer, Herbert Gordon, who told us why he loves his job.  The Judicial Council’s Technology Committee and Ad Hoc Committee on Judicial Salaries both convened in September.  The Council of Magistrate Court Judges held a very successful 40hr Civil Basics Training  in Athens this month and our own Shirley Roberts captured many pictures from that event.  We are promoting a new online Access to Justice webinar hosted by Georgia State University College of Law which will take place on October 24th.  We really enjoyed the posts of the Morehouse Moot Court Team touring the Nathan Deal Judicial Center and of Senior Judge Herbert Phipps being among those recognized as Albany Hometown Black Heroes, men and women who fought against segregation and for justice and change.  We learned that Chief Justice Boggs spoke about Behavioral Health Issues and the Criminal Justice System at Valdosta State University and the University of West Georgia hosted an evening with Georgia State Supreme Court justices.

A profile of Judicial Council member Judge D. Jay Stewart.
A profile of Judicial Council member R. Violet Bennett.
A profile of AOC staffer Herbert Gordon.
Judge Fletcher Sams speaking at the September JC/AOC All-staff Meeting.

In early September, Governor Kemp made the following appointments: Augusta Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge J. Wade Padgett and Bulloch County State Court Judge Joseph Cushner were appointed to the Criminal Case Data Exchange Board; Cook County Probate Court Judge Chase Daughtrey, Walton County Probate Court Judge Bruce E. Wright, former Jones County Probate Court Judge and Chief Magistrate Court Judge Mike Greene, Dooly County Probate Court Judge Rooney Bowen, III, and Lowndes County Probate Court Judge  Detria Carter Powell were appointed to the Board of Commissioners of the Judges of the Probate Courts Retirement Fund of Georgia; and Rockdale County Probate Court Judge Gary Washington was appointed to the Rockdale Judicial Circuit Public Defender Supervisory Panel.  We congratulate new Georgia State-Wide Business Court Judge Bill Hamrick and attended a farewell gathering for Judge Walt Davis.  We leave you with a request to please nominate lawyers and judges who inspire you with their dedication to community service for the 23rd Annual Justice Robert Benham Awards for Community Service–nominations are being accepted now through 11/11/22.

Call on us anytime.  Talk to you in October.

Your JC/AOC Courts Journal team:  Michelle BarclayNoelle Lagueux-AlvarezBruce Shaw, and our contractor, John Ramspott