Judicial Council Stays Busy in 2012

In a normal year, the Judicial Council will meet three times. Just three months into 2012, the Council had already conducted three meetings.
January 2012
     On January 5, the Judicial Council met in Atlanta to discuss legislative issues, budget enhancement requests, and grants updates among other concerns.  Also on the agenda: committee reports, an update on the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, approval of educational programs for magistrate and municipal judges, and reports from the AOC Director and the appellate and trial court councils.
     The membership voted to amend its FY 2013 Budget Enhancement Request to fund Accountability Courts as recommended by the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform. The Special Council recommended “expanding the number of accountability courts and implementing a comprehensive standards and evaluation system.”

alt     The funds would provide support to enable the 48 currently-running Accountability Courts to use nationally recognized best practices, establish 20 new Adult Felony Drug Courts, and five new Mental Health Courts. The request also includes funds for program audits and training for accountability court personnel.
     The Judicial Council heard reports from the Task Force on Domestic Violence Courts and the Committee on Justice for Children.

Task Force on Domestic Violence Courts: Judge Daphne Walker, Chief Magistrate, Clayton County, reported that the Task Force received a $340,000 grant from the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Violence Against Women to create two pilot Domestic Violence Courts in Clayton and Dade counties.

Committee on Justice for Children: Justice P. Harris Hines reported on three grants:

  • Court Improvement Program Grant: $907,000 per year through 2016;
  • Quality Improvement Center on Child Representation Grant: $350,000 per year through 2016; and
  • The Cold Case Project: one-year grant of $175,000.

Court Reporting Matters Committee
     Presiding Judge Herbert E. Phipps reported that a review and revision of the current court reporter fee schedule is underway.   The Committee will recommend guidelines and best practices to assist court reporters, judges, and county governing authorities in determining the fair and accurate compensation for the work done by court reporters.
Other Business
     Mr. Glenn Hendrix, President of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, spoke about the Society’s mission to have Atlanta become an important player in International Arbitration.
New Members
The Council welcomed the following new members:

  • Chief Judge Charles B. Mikell, Court of Appeals;
  • Judge S. Phillip Brown, Superior Courts, Macon Judicial Circuit, Administrative Judge for the Third Disrict.

February 2012
Mental Health Court Grants
     On February 7, the Judicial Council met via teleconference to vote on the disbursement of $353,676 in Mental Health Court Grants.
     Courts awarded $37,500 included the Appalachian Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court, Bibb County Mental Health Court, Chatham County Juvenile Mental Health Court, DeKalb Magistrate Court, Diversion Treatment Court (Mental Health), Enotah Mental Health Court, Hall County Mental Health Court, Henry County Mental Health Court, and Piedmont Adult Mental Health Court.
     Courts awarded $4,473 included the Appalachian Juvenile Drug Court, Augusta Adult Drug Court, Chatham County Family Dependency Treatment Court, Cherokee Adult Drug Court, Cobb County Family Dependency Treatment Court, Cobb County Juvenile Drug Court, Douglas County Family Dependency Treatment Court, Griffin Adult Drug Court, Muscogee Adult Drug Court, Pataula Judicial Circuit Adult Drug Court, Waycross Adult Drug Court, and Western Circuit Adult Drug Court. 
Funding for Accountability Courts
     On February 15, a second teleconference was held to discuss proposals and negotiations that have taken place concerning the Governor’s proposal to fund accountability courts through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.
A consensus was reached by the members that the Judicial Council would continue to seek funding for accountability courts as requested for FY 2013; agreed that the Legislature is responsible for funding the judiciary; would continue to advocate that funding for the judiciary be in the judiciary’s allocation; and would support Chief Justice Hunstein as she continues to advocate the Council’s position.  The Chief Justice pledged to advocate for funding of the accountability court system through the judicial branch as well as to continue to reach solutions with the Governor without encroaching on the separation of powers.

Next Meeting
     The next meeting of the Judicial Council will be Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel in Savannah in conjunction with the State Bar of Georgia’s Annual Meeting.


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