10th Annual Accountability Courts Conference

Registration is now open for the 10th annual Georgia Accountability Courts Conference, to be held Sept. 14-18, 2014, at the Renaissance Waverly Atlanta Hotel. This year’s theme is “Different Paths, One Goal. A Decade of Reform, Restoration and Results.” Organized by the Judicial Council of Georgia’s Accountability Court Committee, this year’s conference will emphasize treatment, best practices and standards for accountability courts. On-line registration and speaker information is available at http://tinyurl.com/2014ACConference.

altMore than 900 attendees are expected, according to Lateefah Thomas, Program Manager of the Office of Accountability Courts & Grants Management. “The conference brings in national and local subject matter experts to speak on accountability court issues.  It’s designed to allow attendees to share ideas and information, and build relationships,” Thomas said. “Our 10th anniversary presents a unique opportunity to recognize some of the wonderful people who began this work, as well as those who are now improving the lives of others through our accountability courts.”
 
Georgia currently has more than 130 accountability courts, with more in the planning stage. These courts include drug, DUI, mental health, family dependency, juvenile, child support, veterans’ treatment, and other specialty courts. The annual conference provides training and collaboration for judges, court administrators, prosecutors, public defenders, child welfare staff, treatment providers, law enforcement, and other professionals.
 
As accountability courts become increasingly common, it is imperative that criminal defense attorneys become familiar with their programs as an option for their clients, just as attorneys are familiar with other aspects of sentencing, says Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, Superior Court, Appalachian Judicial Circuit, and Chair of the Judicial Council Accountability Court Committee. “Both criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors need to learn about addiction and its effects, so they can better recommend and predict which defendants will be best served by these courts.”
 
Judge Weaver currently presides in the adult drug court and the veterans’ court in the Appalachian circuit, and previously presided in its mental health court. “Other than adoptions, the most rewarding part of my job is presiding in an accountability court,” she said. “The members of my accountability court team are really making a difference in the lives of participants and their family members, while making our community safer than before.” 

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