Judicial Council Recommends Two Judgeships

On September 21, the Judicial Council met in Forsyth, GA.   Chief Justice Carol W. Hunstein, Supreme Court of Georgia, presided over the meeting which was held at the State Offices South at Tift College. 
Presiding Justice Hugh P. Thompson reviews the ballots for judgeship recommendations. The Judicial Council considered recommendations for new superior court judgeships.  After reviewing caseload data for the requesting circuits, the Council approved recommendations for the following circuits in order of priority.

  1. Chattahoochee Circuit (7th judgeship)
  2. Oconee Circuit (3rd judgeship)

 
Other Business
 Judge Brenda Weaver, Superior Courts, Appalachian Judicial Circuit, presented the Standards for Accountability Courts on behalf of the Accountability Court Committee.  The Council approved Adult Drug Court Standards, Drug Court Treatment Standards, and Mental Health Court Standards.  Judge Weaver noted that because Mental Health Courts have not been in operation as long as Drug Courts, Judge Stephen Goss and Judge Kathlene Gosselin will continue to revise the standards for those courts as more research data is presented and best practices are developed.
 
Ms. Marla S. Moore, Director, Administrative Office of the Courts, reported on a request from the General Assembly to consider a 3 percent budget reduction for FY2013 Amended and FY2014 budgets.  During her report, Ms. Moore highlighted many of the AOC’s accomplishments since the Judicial Council’s May meeting.

  • Fulton County Court Improvement Task Force.  Judge Cynthia Wright, Superior Court, Atlanta Judicial Circuit, requested help from the AOC to assess current practices and processes, consider judicial administrative principles and best practices, and identify possible changes and innovations for the Fulton County Courts.  Ms. Molly Perry, Mr. Christopher Hansard, Ms. Melissa Johnson, and Ms. Maggie Reeves staffed the Task Force.
  •  Language Access. The AOC received funding for its remote interpreter pilot project during the legislative session.  The Augusta and Southwestern Judicial Circuits were identified to participate in the pilot project.  The equipment used during court proceedings allows for confidential communication between the client and the attorney through an interpreter in the Atlanta office, as well as communication in the courtroom and with the judge.  AOC Research developed the methodology to extract data and study the feasibility of expanding the pilot project.   The AOC and the Commission on Interpreters is developing a language access plan to help the state and its courts meet the Department of Justice (DOJ) requirements and to be in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. 
  • Website.  The AOC’s website was recently updated after a year-long review of georgiacourts.gov’s most viewed pages, language, content, and visual appearance.  A team of AOC staff worked with the Georgia Contact Center.

 
Justice Harold D. Melton, Supreme Court of Georgia, reported on the creation of the Statewide Judiciary Civil E-Filing Committee which is charged with developing an e-filing solution for all classes of court.  The Committee is chaired by Justice Melton.  Judge David Emerson, Superior Court, Douglas Judicial Circuit, serves as vice-chair; judges from each class of court form the membership of the committee.  Additionally, Justice Melton reported that the Supreme Court received some funding during the last legislative session to create a pilot project to test the transmittal of records electronically from the trial court to the Supreme Court for appellate purposes

The Chief Justice reported on the creation of House of Representative’s Title 40 Study Committee and the reactivation of the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform. Reports from the appellate and trial court councils enumerated recent actions and upcoming legislative concerns.

  
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New Members
The Council welcomed the following new members:

Judge Harry J. Altman, (Superior Courts, Southern Judicial Circuit) Second District Administrative Judge

Judge James G. Bodiford, (Superior Court, Cobb Judicial Circuit) Seventh District Administrative Judge

Judge Edward D. Lukemire, (Superior Court, Houston Judicial Circuit) Third District Administrative Judge

Judge Arch W. McGarity, (Superior Court, Flint Judicial Circuit) Sixth District Administrative Judge

Judge Kathy Palmer, (Superior Court, Middle Judicial Circuit) Eighth District Administrative Judge

Judge Brenda S. Weaver, (Superior Courts, Appalachian Judicial Circuit) Ninth District Administrative Judge

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet, (Superior Courts, Augusta Judicial Circuit) Tenth District Administrative Judge

Judge Linda S. Cowen, (State Court of Clayton County) President-elect, Council of State Court Judges

Judge Robin W. Shearer, (Juvenile Courts, Western Judicial Circuit) President-elect, Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Judge Betsey Kidwell (Magistrate, Heard County) President-elect, Council of Magistrate Court Judges

• Judge Kenneth E. Wickham, (Municipal Court of Norcross) President, Council of Municipal Court Judges

Judge James M. Anderson, III, President-elect, Council of Municipal Court Judges

Outgoing Membership
Certificates of appreciation were presented to:

Judge Mark Anthony Scott, (Superior Court, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit) Fourth District Administrative Judge

Judge A. Gregory Poole, (Juvenile Court, Cobb Judicial Circuit) President, Council of Juvenile Court Judges

The next meeting of the Judicial Council has been scheduled for January 10, 2013, at the St. Regis Hotel in conjunction with the State Bar of Georgia mid-year meeting.

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