Judicial Council Recommends Two New Superior Court Judgeships

The Judicial Council met at the Loudermilk Center in Atlanta on September 13, 2013.  Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson called the meeting to order after the Georgia Boy Choir, conducted by Mr. David R. White, sang two verses of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
 

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Superior Court Judgeships
Recommendations for new superior court judgeships were considered.  After reviewing caseload data for the requesting circuits, the Judicial Council approved recommendations for the following circuits in order of priority:
1.     Coweta Circuit (7th judgeship)
2.     Waycross Circuit (4th judgeship)
 
Accountability Court Committee
Judge Brenda Weaver, Superior Court, Appalachian Judicial Circuit, presented the Accountability Court Committee’s proposed Adult DUI/Drug Court Standards, Adult DUI/Drug Court Treatment Standards, Adult DUI/Drug Court Transfer Rules, Adult DUI/Drug Court Form, and the Juvenile Drug Court Treatment Standards to the Judicial Council for approval. These were approved unanimously.
 
Budget Committee
Justice Harold Melton, Supreme Court of Georgia, presented the budget enhancement requests for AFY2014 and FY2015 including priority lists voted on by the Budget Committee:
 
AFY 14
1.     Institute of Continuing Judicial Education
2.     Accountability Courts
3.     Statewide General Civil E-Filing
4.     Council of Probate Court Judges
5.     County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council
 
FY 15
1.     Institute of Continuing Judicial Education
2.     Accountability Courts
3.     Statewide General Civil E-Filing
4.     Council of Probate Court Judges
5.     Civil Legal Services for Victims of Domestic Violence
6.     County and Municipal Probation Advisory Council
7.     Family Law Information Center – Pataula Circuit
 
The enhancement requests were approved.
 
Policy and Legislative Committee
Presiding Justice Hines, Vice Chair, Judicial Council, reported on the Policy and Legislative Committee’s efforts at looking toward the 2014 Legislative Session.  The Judicial Council voted to support legislation including HB438 (Court-referred ADR costs) and SB 101 (Firearms) on hold-over legislation as well as proposed legislation regarding tax intercept, traffic violations bureau statute reform, technology fees/recovery of court costs, and contempt penalties in magistrate court.  The Judicial Council voted to take no position on HB 1 (Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act) and HB 643 (Civil Practice Act).
 
Other Committee Actions
            The Judicial Council approved the Court Reporting Matters recommendations for appointments to the Board of Court Reporting: Judge Richard Kent, State Court of Colquitt County to fill the state Court position; Mr. James M. Anderson, to fill an attorney position, and Ms. Linda Drake, Ms. Kim Raines, and Mr. Tommy Savage to fill court reporter positions.  The Domestic Violence Committee provided a written report.
 
Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Court Strategic Plan
            Mr. Jim Neal, North Highland, reported that the Judicial Council/
Administrative Office of the Courts began in 2012 to develop a Strategic Plan to guide the Judicial Council/AOC’s efforts for FY2014-2016, specifically to (1) focus on goals to benefit all courts and the judicial system; (2) focus resources to make tangible progress toward goals; and (3) enable more effective communication with the courts, legislature, executive branch, and the public.
            Mr. Neal explained that the Chief Justice and AOC Director have been tasked with (1) directing the implementation of the plan; (2) engaging Judicial Council members for input and participation; and (3) reporting to the Judicial Council on the progress of outcomes.  The plan was adopted unanimously.
            The Judicial Council Strategic Planning Committee was formed with Presiding Judge Sara Doyle, Court of Appeals of Georgia as chair.  Membership will be comprised of Judge Mary Staley, President-Elect, Council of Superior Court Judges; Judge Charles Wynne, President-Elect, Council of State Court Judges; Judge J. Lane Bearden, President-Elect, Council of Juvenile Court Judges; Judge Chase Daughtrey, President-Elect, Council of Probate Court Judges; Judge W. Allen Wigington, First Vice President, Council of Magistrate Court Judges; and Judge E.R. Lanier, President-Elect, Council of Municipal Court Judges
 
Other Business
Along with the AOC Director’s report and the reports from the appellate and trial court councils, the Judicial Council heard a presentation regarding the use of CourTools to measure performance in Georgia’s Courts from Ms. Tracy Mason, AOC.  Mr. Tracy BeMent reported on the Next Generation Courts Commission’s final report.  The Judicial Council unanimously accepted the report.
 
 
New Members
 
The Council welcomed the following new members:

  • Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines, Supreme Court of Georgia;
  • Presiding Judge Sara Doyle, Court of Appeals;
  • Judge Charles Wynne, State Court of Hall County, President-Elect, Council of State Court Judges;
  • Judge W. Allen Wigington, Magistrate Court of Pickens County, First Vice President, Council of Magistrate Court Judges;
  • Judge E.R. Lanier, Municipal Court of Monticello, President-Elect, Council of Municipal Court Judges;

 
The next Judicial Council meeting will be held at 2:00 p.m. on January 8, 2014, at the InterContinental Hotel in Atlanta.

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