Judicial Council Actions - September 30, 2015

Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson, Supreme Court of Georgia, convened the Judicial Council on September 30, at the Macon Marriott City Center/Macon Centreplex Convention Center. This policy making body heard reports from every class of court and various Council committees and voted on budget and legislative issues. A short synopsis of the meeting follows:
• Chief Justice Thompson administered the oath of service to new Judicial Council member Judge Kristina Hammer Blum, First Vice President, Council of Magistrate Court Judges.
• Judge Samuel D. Ozburn, Chair, Council of Superior Court Judges Security Committee, gave the Council an update to the work of the Security Committee. Judge Ozburn related the Committee’s origin in the Fulton County tragedy of March 5, 2011, and the work it has accomplished through cooperation with the Georgia Sheriff’s Association. The Committee has developed resources to assist all courts in the state with courthouse security (see attached document). See the link below for an interview with Judge Ozburn with a link to the Courtroom Security standards.  http://tinyurl.com/owdh7a2
• Mr. Christopher Hansard, Assistant Director for Research and Regulatory, reported that three circuits (Cherokee, Clayton, and Griffin) requested consideration for an additional superior court judgeship. None of the circuits met the Judicial Council’s requirements to be considered for a judgeship recommendation, but the Clayton Circuit appealed their qualification status to the Judicial Workload Assessment Committee which let the request proceed to the Judicial Council. Mr. Hansard and Chief Judge Albert Collier, Clayton Judicial Circuit, presented Clayton’s workload study to the Council. Mr. Hansard noted that, for the additional judgeship to be recommended to the Legislature, in accordance with policy, the Council would need to approve the recommendation by a two-thirds majority. After discussion, a vote was taken and the Clayton Circuit was approved for a recommendation for an additional judgeship.
• Chief Judge Sara Doyle, Court of Appeals, reported on the work of the Strategic Plan Implementation Committee, including the ongoing work around Communications.
• Chief Justice Thompson recognized Judge Don Wilkes, President of the Council of Probate Court Judges (CPCJ), to make a budget motion on behalf of Justice Harold Melton (Chair, Judicial Council Budget Committee) who was unable to attend. By mutual agreement of Chief Justice Thompson, Judicial Council/AOC Interim Director Cynthia Clanton and the leadership of the CPCJ, it was requested that resources be transferred from the JC/AOC to the CPCJ to fund an Executive Director and additional operations. This motion passed with no opposition, and the CPCJ withdrew their FY 2017 budget enhancement request previously submitted for this purpose.
• Presiding Justice P. Harris Hines recommended several legislative items on behalf of the Policy and Legislative Committee, and each was approved for Judicial Council support during the 2016 Session of the General Assembly.
• Presiding Justice Hines then delivered a report on the progress of the search for a new AOC Director.
• Interim Director Cynthia Clanton gave an update on the work of the AOC including the partnership between the AOC and the executive branch on a statewide technology integration project, staff and judge participation at the national Court Technology Conference, statewide training and communications efforts, and the progress of the Tax Refund Intercept Program pilot. Ms. Clanton highlighted recent honors and distinctions received by members of the Judicial Council and Committee Chairs.
• The Judicial Council will next meet at the Carter Center in Atlanta on December 9.

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