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Judicial Council Administrative Office of the Courts

ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020


The Judicial Council of Georgia was created in 1945 to develop policies for administering and improving Georgia courts. Judicial Council members and committees meet throughout the year to address specific aspects of court administration and improvement. The Judicial Council is made up of 28 members who represent every class of court, plus the President of the State Bar of Georgia, who serves as a non-voting member. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) was created in 1973. As staff to the Judicial Council, the AOC provides subject-matter expertise on policy, court innovation, legislation, and court administration to all Georgia courts. This report is published by the Judicial Council of Georgia and the Administrative Office of the Courts in compliance with O.C.G.A. § 15-5-24. Chair, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton Director, Cynthia H. Clanton Judicial Council of Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street SW, Suite 300 Atlanta, GA 30334

Note: This report covers Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020). Names and titles listed in this report are as of those dates and do not reflect changes in leadership or titles before or after those dates.


CONTENTS Overview

2 4 8 10 18 20

State of the Judiciary Director’s Letter About the AOC Highlights Budget FY 2020 Legislation

Judicial Council and Standing Committees

22 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 34

Judicial Council Access to Justice Budget Court Reporting Matters Education and Training Grants Judicial Workload Assessment Legislation Strategic Plan Technology

Ad Hoc Committees

35 36 38

Improving Community Accecss to Legal Resources Judicial COVID-19 Task Force Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government

Connected Boards, Committees, Commissions, and Councils

40 42 44 46 48 49

Council of Accountability Court Judges Commission on Dispute Resolution Committee on Justice for Children Georgia Commission on Child Support Georgia Commission on Interpreters Board of Court Reporting

Reports from Appellate Courts and Trial Court Councils

51 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 67 68 70

Supreme Court of Georgia Court of Appeals of Georgia State-wide Business Court Council of Superior Court Judges Council of State Court Judges Council of Juvenile Court Judges Council of Probate Court Judges Council of Magistrate Court Judges Georgia Magistrate Courts Training Council Council of Municipal Court Judges Georgia Municipal Courts Training Council

Appendices

72 73

Appendix A: Judicial Demographics Appendix B: Case Characteristics


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

State of the Judiciary Chief Justice Harold D. Melton delivered the State of the Judiciary Address to the legislature on February 26, 2020. "We are not where we once were." On November 7, 2019, the Supreme Court of Georgia held its final oral argument in the courtroom on Mitchell Street. The appellate courts now reside in the Nathan Deal Judicial Center, a building which will serve the court for next 100 years. Chief Justice Melton revisited the 1956 dedication of the old courtroom to reveal a vastly different court in demographic and perspective. Chief Justice Melton pointed to the speeches at the 1956 dedication that railed against desegregation as a reminder "to remain vigilant, realizing that the divisions of the past could easily impede our efforts to move forward together. My friend and colleague on the Supreme Court, Justice Robert Benham, recently said, “We can’t let the evils of yesterday use up our tomorrows. As a people, we have more in common than things that separate us.""

“We must continue to do better to ensure that all Georgians – rich and poor – have access to justice.” Legal representation is difficult to afford for low and middle income citizens. Legal research by judges and attorneys has shifted to digital technology, creating an opportunity for law libraries to also serve as self-help centers for self-represented litigants. Chief Justice Melton highlighted two pilot projects in Georgia that are leading the way: the Justice Resource Center in Fulton County, led by Chief Judge Christopher Brasher and Judge Robert McBurney, and the Dougherty County Law Library/Self-Help Center led by Chief Judge Willie Lockette.

E-Filing Mandatory electronic filing went into effect in 2019. "I can report today that the sky did not fall. Other than daily hiccups, we are up and running all across this State without major difficulties. I’m not hearing any huge outcries, and I consider that good. We’ve made great progress, but we must not rest on our laurels or we could wind up generations behind. Technology changes so fast that we must continue to innovate and improve."


STATE OF THE JUDICIARY

Mental Health "I want to applaud Governor Kemp and the Georgia legislature for creating the Behavioral Health Innovation and Reform Commission. We in the judiciary pledge our support and willingness to work diligently with the Governor, with you, and with thiscommission to reduce the numbers of people with behavioral health issues who wind up in our jails and prisons."

Cybersecurity "In the last two years, we have seen a growing number of ransomware attacks on government agencies in Georgia." Attacks on the City of Atlanta and the Administrative Office of the Courts impacted the judicial branch in Georgia. Chief Justice Melton formed a cybersecurity committee, chaired by Judge Christian Coomer, to help mitigate and insure against risks and vulnerabilities in the state's judicial network.

Honoring the Career of Justice Robert Benham "He often endured walking into rooms where people closely assessed whether they should take him seriously. He overcame doubts by employing two primary tools: 1) he was always nice; and 2) he was always bigger than the situation. He took the high road, never giving tit for tat, striving for common ground. He suffered slights gracefully, never lost his temper, never raised his voice, never took things personally. He remained singularly focused on his goal and always moved forward."

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

From the Director

O

n behalf of the Judicial Council of Georgia and the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), I am pleased to share our 47th Annual Report covering our work during Fiscal Year 2020. The AOC was created by statute in 1973 to serve the Judicial Council which is the statewide governing body for the judicial branch of Georgia. For the first time in 114 years, Georgia has a new class of court with the new State-wide Business Court officially opening for business on August 1, 2020. With that addition this year, the Judicial Council expanded to 28 judges representing all classes of court throughout the state; the only non-judge on the Judicial Council is the President of the State Bar of Georgia who serves a nonvoting member and who brings the Judicial Council’s total membership to 29. As of this writing, the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic, civil rights issues, and police reform efforts are at the forefront in the United States. All sectors of life from schools to courts to places of worship are shifting to technology to carry out their work. Government budgets and jobs were impacted and all of us are a little anxious. Nonetheless, we are encouraged because we know that throughout history huge upheavals are often accompanied by positive social change. The staff at the JC/ AOC remain hopeful and fully engaged to face the future. We remain a strong team joined by a central purpose to improve justice through our service and work. Since July 1, 2019, we have served the Judicial Council and the broader judiciary as a whole as we also work to improve the administration of justice in Georgia. In March, after the Chief Justice’s first emergency order, the entire AOC pivoted


DIRECTOR'S LETTER

to working remotely except for a few staff members who came in to keep the office open. In June, we started a skeleton crew rotation requiring one representative from each division to be in the office each work day and have revisited this policy periodically as warranted by the data on COVID-19. Our goal is to keep all staff safe while simultaneously supporting all courts and judges in keeping their courts open. Also, in March, the AOC created the COVID-19 website to serve as the central repository for all local emergency orders and all pandemic-related information, including Guidelines for Re-Opening. On May 14, the Chief Justice created a Judicial COVID-19 Task Force led by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Shawn LaGrua which will continue its work until it is no longer needed. Our services included four Judicial Council General Session meetings, numerous committee meetings (see page), and we recollected our case count lost in 2019 due to a ransomware attack which we reposted here: research.georgiacourts.gov. An Ad Hoc Judicial Council Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government concluded its work resulting in a report, recommendations and training videos. The Ad Hoc Committee on Improving Community Access to Legal Resources was created on June 9 chaired by Judge Robert McBurney and Justice Charlie Bethel. This was a new opportunity for our office to staff and support work on this important issue which is a priority for Chief Justice Melton. Our staff worked this year to shepherd legislation, judgeship requests, and budget cuts during a two-part legislative session which ended on June 26. The Judicial Council budget was reduced by 13.35%. The reduction included cuts to the grants

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

DIRECTOR’S LETTER CONTINUED

administered by the AOC for legal services for victims of domestic violence and legal services to divert children who are at risk for foster care into kinship care. The judicial branch budgets were cut across the board as the economy suffered from the effects of COVID-19. The AOC provides shared services across the judicial branch and we feel grateful that we were able to prevent staff furloughs at this time. AOC staff facilitated weekly calls for Legislation Committee members to share information and discuss concerns; staff also continued to publish legislative reports on Tuesdays and Fridays. The Ogeechee, Cobb, and Flint Judicial Circuits were successful in persuading the legislature to grant them new judgeships. The AOC staff also worked with multiple partners in both the judicial and executive branches and within the broader community to provide a number of services and products including: co-hosting the 2019 Child Welfare Summit; being a sponsor for the National Center for State Courts/Institute for Court Management Leadership Course hosted at the AOC, as well as the Georgia Bar, Media & Judiciary Conference; data collection and analysis for the Council of Accountability Courts, the Child Support Commission and Parental Accountability Courts; and hosting multiple Record Restriction/ Expungement Clinics in Valdosta Georgia with the faith community as well as pivoting to virtual on-line clinics since March for Dalton and Augusta. While this past year has presented many challenges, there were also many moments to celebrate. On February 11, the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center was dedicated at a beautiful outdoor ceremony that featured a keynote speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice and native Georgian, Clarence Thomas. At that ceremony, Chief Justice Melton’s speech noted the demographic diversity on both the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals—in sharp contrast to decades past. We also celebrated World Read

Chief Justice Melton speaking at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center Dedication


DIRECTOR'S LETTER

Aloud Day featuring the books “Tomorrow I’ll be Kind” and “Tomorrow I’ll be Brave.” Several judges around the state read these books to school children and donated a copy of the book to the school in memory of former Chief Justice P. Harris Hines. We have also worked to enhance the professional and ethical image of the judiciary in the community through a number of creative events and resources. The AOC continues a video series to introduce the public to the members of the Judicial Council, captured multiple video stories of Accountability Court graduations around the state, shot pictorial essays of a day in the life of a Magistrate Court Judge, as well as hosting a Twitter Town Hall to celebrate Constitution Day (September 17), hosting a series of judges reading to children in schools to celebrate Bill of Rights Day (December 15), and a virtual celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment for Law Day (May 1). All of these written and visual stories were profiled in publications and on social media over the past year and we thank the judges for patiently allowing us to be with them with cameras and for pivoting to recording themselves when we could no longer be in the same room together. We feel it is so important to share the good work being done on a daily basis to deliver and improve justice in our state. At our final staff meeting of Calendar Year 2019, we were so fortunate to have Council of Probate Court Judges President T.J. Hudson, who told us the story of his recovery from a terrible traffic accident. His story included a message of grace, embracing wellness, and a lesson in being resilient. How timely and even more valuable his message became when just three months later we were all called to be resilient when the pandemic hit. We work every day to internalize this message. It is my privilege to serve as the AOC Director and we remain in service to the judicial branch. With appreciation and respect

Cynthia Clanton Director Administrative Office of the Courts

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) Mission

The Judicial Council and AOC lead collaboration on policy across Georgia’s courts to improve the administration of justice in Georgia.

Vision

To improve justice in all Georgia courts through collaboration, innovation, and information. As staff to the Judicial Council of Georgia, the Administrative Office of the Courts provides subject-matter expertise on policy, court innovation, legislation, and court administration to the state’s trial and atppellate courts. The AOC also furnishes a full range of information technology, budget, and financial services to the judicial branch.


ABOUT THE AOC

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About the AOC DIRECTOR’S DIVISION is comprised of Human Resources, Governmental and Trial Court Liaison, General Counsel, and Budget. The Director determines priorities, strategy, and direction of the agency and oversees its divisions.

as a liaison to the Council of Accountability Court Judges and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. This Division also houses the Communications Department for the entire AOC.

FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION DIVISION provides fiscal services for the Judicial Council, AOC, the state’s courts, and other judicial branch organizations. Services provided include: payroll administration, budget preparation and management, audit compliance, invoicing, fixed asset management, and management of accounts receivable and payable. The Financial Administration staff also provides budget data to the Governor’s Office and General Assembly on behalf of each Judicial Council budgetary unit.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DIVISION develops, supports, and enhances automation solutions for all levels of court throughout the State of Georgia. The AOC IT Division offers consulting and research services, provisioning of hardware resources and compliance with legislative mandates as well as keeping up with industry fluctuations and develops, supports and enhances automation projects for all levels of court throughout the State of Georgia.

COMMUNICATIONS, CHILDREN, FAMILIES, AND THE COURTS DIVISION Supports court system initiatives and partnerships that improve outcomes for Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens–among them: children in foster care, victims of domestic violence, persons with disabilities who need improved access to the courts, and families seeking child support. It includes staff support to the Georgia Child Support Commission, the Georgia Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children, the Judicial Council Standing Committee on Access to Justice and oversees grant management for victims of domestic violence. A combination of state, federal and private funds finance this work. The staff serves

JUDICIAL SERVICES DIVISION is made up of two offices: Research and Data Analysis, and Court Professionals. Through these two offices, this division provides data-driven analysis of the state’s trial courts and oversees the policy and regulatory matters of Georgia’s court professionals. In addition to staffing all the Judicial Council meetings, committees (ad hoc and standing) and connected committees, the AOC provides fiscal, legal, human resource, technology, legislative tracking, research, communication, and liaison services to multiple classes of courts.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

FY 2020 Highlights July 2019

September 2019

July 1 – Recovery efforts from a ransomware attack in June continued, No ransom was ever paid to the attackers and many applications were brought back online throughout July and August. July 15 – Judge Walter Davis was announced as the first judge of the Georgia State-wide Business Court. July 17 – Staff of the Georgia Commission on Child Support conduct an ethics and professionalism class at the State Bar of Georgia.

September 6 – Learning Essentials About Professionalism (LEAP) seminar, sponsored by the Board of Court Reporting, is held with over 80 newly-licensed court reporters in attendance.

July 26 – Over 160 attendees attended a record restriction clinic in Valdosta. Justice Robert Benham addressed the crowd.

September 10 – The Georgia Court of Appeals hits the road and holds oral arguments in Macon. September 17 - A Twitter Town Hall in honor of Constitution Day. A judge from every class of Georgia's court participated.

August 2019 August 8 – The Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse and Neglect institute rolls out part 3 of its training with over 160 people in attendance. August 12 – Judge Walter Davis is confirmed as judge to the Georgia State-wide Business Court at a joint hearing of the Georgia House and Senate Judiciary committees. August 23 – The Judicial Council meets in Macon. New superior court judgeships were approved for 9 circuits.

September 24 – The Supreme Court of Georgia hosts a delegation from the Supreme People's Court of Vietnam. September 26 – The Council of Municipal Court Judges holds its leadership meeting.


FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

October 2019

October 6 – The Council of Magistrate Court Judges holds its fall meeting. Judge Michael Barker becomes the Council’s president. October 10 – The -Council of Municipal Court Judges holds its Fall Law and Practice Update and Executive Committee meeting.

October 18 – A panel from the Georgia Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in Fannin County

November 2019 November 13-15 – The Georgia Child Welfare Law Summit is held with over 600 people in attendance.

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November 20 – The Judicial Council Legislation Committee meets to hear updates on proposed legislation. November 26 – The Judicial Council Standing Committee on Access to Justice publishes Georgia’s Servicemembers Civil Relief Act guide.

December 2019 December 6 – The Judicial Council meets in Atlanta. December 11 - AOC staff hosts a delegation from Brazil’s court system.

December 15-21 – In honor of Bill of Rights Day, Judges across the State visited schools to promotes civics education


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUED

January 2020

February 2020

January 10 – The Commission on Interpreters hosts an Orientation Workshop at Georgia Tech. January 10 – A panel of five Superior Court Judges discuss best practices for temporary hearings at a Family Law Section CLE.

We celebrated Black History Month by profiling an African American judge on each day of the week. February 4 – The Council of Probate Court Judges and the Council of Magistrate Court Judges hold their legislative day at the capitol. January 16 – The Juvenile Data Exchange Committee meets at the JC/AOC offices in Atlanta. January 22 – The Council of Superior Court Judges holds their winter conference. January 25 – Staff from CACJ and JC/AOC participate in a panel with Judges Jason Dean and Russell McCllelland at the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Winter Seminar.

February 6 – Judges and AOC staff read to elementary aged children for World Read Aloud Day.


FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

February 2020 cont. February 11 – A dedication for the Nathan Deal Judicial Center is held. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivers the keynote speech.

February 14 – The Judicial Council met in Atlanta, holding it's last in-person meeting of the fiscal year.

February 19 – Justice Benham chaired his last A2J meeting. Special guest and former Congressman George Darden spoke at the meeting.

February 13 – Justice Robert Benham sits for oral arguments for the last time before his retirement after 36 years on the high court bench.

February 26 – Chief Justice Melton delivers the 2020 State of the Judiciary Address to a joint session of the Georgia Legislature.

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS CONTINUED

March 2020

March 16 – The Judicial Council virtually holds its first emergency session. FY2020 JUDICIAL COUNCIL EMERGENCY SESSIONS BY DATE

In celebration of Womens's History Month, profiles of Georgia's women judges were created and shared throughout March. March 9 – The Council of Municipal Court Judges hosts its legislative day at the State Capitol.

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

March 16, 2020 March 23, 2020 March 30, 2020 April 6, 2020 April 13, 2020 May 4, 2020 May 11, 2020 May 18, 2020 June 1, 2020 June 8, 2020 June 15, 2020 June 22, 2020 June 29, 2020

March 27 – Governor Brian Kemp announces appointments to Georgia's appellate courts. Judge Carla Wong McMillian to serve on the Supreme Court of Georgia and Judges Verda M. Colvin and John A. "Trea" Pipkin III to serve on the Georgia Court of Appeals. March 14 – The first Order Declaring Statewide Judicial Emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic is issued.

April 2020 April 10 – Georgia's three recent appellate appointees are sworn-in at a social distancing ceremony.


FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

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April 2020 cont.

May 2020

April 20 – The Supreme Court of Georgia holds oral arguments via video conference for the first time its history.

May 1 – In honor of Law Day, JC/AOC staff produced 10 videos to celebrate the 19th Amendment and to promote civics education. #LawDay2020 #Civics

April 23 –AOC staff continue to expand their virtual impact during the pandemic. Pictured below, left: Tabitha Ponder instructs attorneys on record-restictions for an upcoming clinic; right, Jerry Bruce conducting a class on child advocacy.

May 5 – Chief Justice Melton and Presiding Justice David Nahmias hold back to back virtual town halls for state and municipal court judges. A town hall is also held for the superior court clerks on May 7. May 11 – The Second Order Extending Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency is issued. The Judicial COVID-19 Task Force, chaired by Judge Shawn LaGrua, is established.

April 24 – The Judicial Council of Georgia holds a general session via videoconferencing for the first time.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

June 2020 June 8 – The Georgia Court Reopening Guide is approved by the Judicial Council. June 9 – The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on Improving Community Access to Legal Resources is created. Justice Charlie Bether and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert C.I. McBurney are to serve as co-chairs. June 12 – The Third Order Extending Declaration of Statewide Judicial Emergency is issued. A plan for the reimpostion of deadlines is included. June 26 – Sine Die after an elongated legislative session.

Commemorating a unique Sine Die, left to right: Council of State Court Judges E.D. Bob Bray, JC/AOC staff Robert Aycock and Tracy Mason

June 29 –Justices Melton, Bethel, and Boggs speak to the the Board of the State Justice Institute on behalf of the Judicial Council Standing Committee on Access to Justice about Georgia's criminal justice reform and successfull records restriction clinics.


FY 2020 HIGHLIGHTS

Thanks to our partner organizations:

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Budget FY 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION The Amended FY 2020 budget was increased $102,884. The legislature made the following adjustments. Amount Funded

Amended Fiscal Year 2020 Budget

$

Administrative Office of the Courts (reduction to reflect savings from vacant position)

(25,856) (12,199)

Institute of Continuing Judicial Education (2% Judicial Branch cut)

939

Adjustment to agency premiums for Department of Administrative Services Judicial Qualifications Commission (increase for contracts)

$

40,000

Grants for Legal Services for Kinship Care Families

$

100,000

TOTALS

$

102,884

The final Amended FY 2020 Judicial Council budget was $16,673,921. The Judicial Council was appropriated $14,359,385 for Fiscal Year 2021. The Judicial Council’s budget was reduced $2,211,652 which represents a 13.35% cut to the FY 2020 budget. No enhancements were funded during the 2020 legislative session.

FY 2020 JUDICIAL BRANCH BUDGET The entire Judicial Branch was appropriated $138,781,075 for FY 2020 during the 2019 legislative session. The Judicial Branch state appropriation accounts for less than 1% of Georgia’s annual operating budget.

Healthcare

Other Transportation

Judicial Branch Education


FY 2020 BUDGET

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FISCAL YEAR 2017 - 2021 JUDICIAL BRANCH ANNUAL BUDGETS Judicial Branch budgets over the last five years:

FY 2017

AGENCY NAME

$

Court of Appeals

20,409,238

FY 2018

$

21,191,223

FY 2019

$

21,353,318

FY 2020

$

22,304,557

FY 2021

$

21,959,337 1,396,940

*State-wide Business Court Judicial Council

$

14,690,266

$

15,479,797

$

15,832,325

$

16,571,037

$

14,359,385

Juvenile Courts

$

7,542,849

$

8,241,981

$

8,654,701

$

9,010,048

$

8,666,187

Superior Courts

$

72,018,465

$

72,712,269

$

73,613,912

$

75,909,534

$

72,209,945

Supreme Court

$

11,971,688

$

13,106,746

$

14,356,302

$

14,985,899

$

14,191,947

TOTALS

$

126,632,506

$

130,732,016

$

133,810,558

$

138,781,075

$

132,783,741

FY 2017

$80M

FY 2018

FY 2019

FY 2020

FY 2021

$70M $60M $50M $40M $30M $20M $10M Court of Appeals 5 Year Increase

8%

State-wide Business Court 40%

Judicial Council

Juvenile Courts

Superior Courts

Supreme Court

-2%

15%

.3%

18%

5% Total


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

FY 2020 Legislation

The Judicial Council supports legislation to:

1. Modernize and update the Court Reporting Act of Georgia and related

statutes (OCGA Titles 5; 9; 15; 17; 29), to include authorization for the use of use digital recording systems in courts and for the development of rules and regulations to govern such use (Judicial Council);

2. Amend OCGA § 17-6-1 to provide judges more discretion when

determining the bail of an individual accused of a new family violence misdemeanor offense under certain conditions (Council of Magistrate Court Judges);

3. Adopt the Uniform Mediation Act in Georgia (Commission on Dispute Resolution);

4. Amend OCGA § 29-3-3 to clarify the meaning of “gross settlement”

and define “net settlement” when the appointment of a conservator for a minor is required (Council of State Court Judges/Judicial Council).

The Judicial Council recommends a new Superior Court judgeship in the following judicial circuits (ranked in order of priority):

• • • • • • • • •

Ogeechee Flint Cobb Mountain South Georgia Northern Atlantic Coweta Atlanta


The Judicial Council


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Judicial Council of Georgia Authorized and Directed by Statute (Ga. L. 1945, 1973, 1983, 1984) Created by Supreme Court Order (Amended May 2016) All Judicial Council Members serve Ex-officio. The Director of the AOC is the Secretary to the Judicial Council pursuant to its bylaws.

Chair Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, Supreme Court of Georgia Vice-Chair Presiding Justice David E. Nahmias, Supreme Court of Georgia Council Members: Chief Judge Christopher J. McFadden, Court of Appeals of Georgia Vice Chief Judge Brian M. Rickman, Court of Appeals of Georgia Judge Walter W. Davis, Georgia State-wide Business Court Judge Shawn E. LaGrua, Superior Court, Atlanta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Brian Amero, Superior Court, Flint Judicial Circuit Judge Jeffrey H. Kight, Superior Court, Waycross Judicial Circuit Judge James G. Tunison, Jr., Superior Court, Southern Judicial Circuit Judge Arthur Lee Smith, Superior Court, Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Asha Jackson, Superior Court, Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Christopher S. Brasher, Superior Court, Atlanta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Geronda V. Carter, Superior Court, Clayton Judicial Circuit, Judge Ralph Van Pelt, Jr., Superior Court, Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Donald W. Gillis, Superior Court, Dublin Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley, Superior Court, Bell-Forsyth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Carl C. Brown, Superior Court, Augusta Judicial Circuit Chief Judge T. Russell McClelland, State Court, Forsyth County Judge Wesley B. Tailor, State Court, Fulton County Chief Judge Juliette Scales, Juvenile Court, Ocmulgee Judicial Circuit Judge Lisa C. Jones, Juvenile Court, Southwestern Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Torri M. "T.J." Hudson, Probate Court, Treutlen County Chief Judge Kelli M. Wolk, Probate Court, Cobb County Judge Michael Barker, Magistrate Court, Chatham County Chief Judge Berryl Anderson*, Magistrate Court, DeKalb County Judge Dale R. “Bubba” Samuels, Municipal Court, City of Monroe Judge Willie C. Weaver, Sr., Municipal Court, City of Albany Dawn Jones, Attorney, President of State Bar of Georgia (Non-Voting Member) Judicial Council members as of June 30, 2020 *Designee of CMCJ President-Elect, Judge Torri M. Hudson


JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA

General session of the Judicial Council in February, 2020

General session of the Judicial Council in April, 2020

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA

STANDING COMMITTEES Access to Justice (A2J)

Staff to Committee: Tabitha Ponder Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Charles J. Bethel Robert Benham Carol W. Hunstein Bill Adams MJ Blakely Verda Colvin

Supreme Court Justice

Location

Statewide

Position

Co-Chair

Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Statewide

Emeritus Member

Supreme Court Justice (ret.) Statewide

Emeritus Member

Attorney

Statewide

State Bar of Georgia Representative

Attorney

Statewide

Gate City Bar Association

Appeals Court Judge

Statewide

Superior Court Representative

Clarence Cuthpert

Probate Court Judge

Rockdale County

Probate Court Representative

Tony DelCampo

Attorney

Statewide

Sara L. Doyle V. Sharon Edenfield, Esq Belinda Edwards Jana Edmondson-Cooper

Appeals Court Judge

Statewide

Georgia Hispanic Bar Association Representative Court of Appeals Representative

Attorney

Statewide

State Bar, Young Lawyers Division

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Superior Court Representative

Attorney

Statewide

Georgia Commission on Interpreters

Terica Redfield Ganzy

Attorney

Statewide

Georgia Association of Black Women Lawyers Representative

Mike Jacobs Tracy Johnson Monica Khant, Esq. Ethan Pham Esq Brendon Shawn Rhodes

State Court Judge

DeKalb County

Stonewall Bar Association Representative

Executive Director

Office of Dispute Resolution Georgia Commission on Interpreters

Attorney

Statewide

State Bar, Young Lawyers Division

Municipal Court Judge

City of Morrow

Municipal Court Representative

Magistrate Court Judge

Wilcox County

Magistrate Court Representative

Will Simmons

District Court Administrator

6th Judicial Circuit

Clerk/Court Administrator Representative

Jason B. Thompson Maureen Wood Kristina Blum Latisha Dear Jackson* Karlise Grier Vicky Ogawa Kimbrell Cassandra Kirk

State Court Judge

Fayette County

Fayette Bar, Young Lawyers Division

Juvenile Court Judge

Rockdale Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Magistrate Court Judge

Gwinnett County

Advisory Member

Superior Court Judge

DeKalb County

Advisory Member

Executive Director

CJCP

Advisory Member

Attorney

Statewide

Advisory Member

Magistrate Court Judge

Fulton County

Advisory Member

Mike Monahan

Attorney

Statewide

Advisory Member

Nicki Vaughan

Attorney

Statewide

Advisory Member


JUDICIAL COUNCIL STANDING COMMITTEES

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Budget

Staff to Committee: Maleia Wilson Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Location

Position

Michael P. Boggs

Supreme Court Justice

Christian Coomer

Court of Appeals Judge Statewide

Vice-Chair

Brian Amero

Superior Court Judge

Flint Circuit

Member, President-Elect, Council of Superior Court Judges

Wesley B. Tailor

State Court Judge

Fulton County

Member, President-Elect, Council of State Court Judges

Lisa C. Jones

Juvenile Court Judge

Southwestern Circuit Member, President-Elect, Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Kelli M. Wolk

Probate Court Judge

Cobb County

Berryl A. Anderson*

Magistrate Court Judge DeKalb County

Member, First Vice President, Council of Magistrate Court Judges

Wille C. Weaver

Municipal Court Judge

City of Albany

Member, President-Elect of the Council of Municipal Court Judges

Maria Golick

State Court Judge

Cobb County

Advisory Member, Budget Chair of Council of State Court Judges

Mike Greene

Probate Court Judge

Jones County

Advisory Member, Budget Chair of Council of Probate Court Judges

Ted N. Echols

Municipal Court Judge

McDonough

Advisory Member, Budget Chair of Council of Municipal Court Judges

Cynthia Clanton

Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, JC/AOC

Shannon Weathers

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Superior Court Judges

Bob Bray

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of State Court Judges

Eric John

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Kevin Holder

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Probate Court Judges

Sharon Reiss

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Magistrate Court Judges

Statewide

Chair

Member, First Vice President, Council of Probate Court Judges

*Designee of CMCJ President-Elect, Judge Torri M. Hudson

Mission

The Budget Committee handles the initial review of Judicial Council, AOC, and all subprogram budgets and recommends continuation funding and enhancement requests to the Judicial Council for approval.

Mission

The Access to Justice Committee improves the public’s trust by focusing on access and fairness through the elimination of systemic barriers in the judicial system related to gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, indigence, and language.


26

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA STANDING COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Court Reporting Matters

Staff to Committee: John Botero Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Location

Position

Brian Rickman Carla McMillian

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Chair

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Supreme Court Representative

Walter Davis

State-wide Business Court Judge

Statewide

State-wide Business Court Representative

Robert McBurney

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Superior Court Representative

J. Kelly Brooks

Superior Court Judge

Waycross Circuit

Superior Court Representative

Jane Morrison

State Court Judge

Fulton County

State Court Representative

John K. Edwards

State Court Judge

Lowndes County

State Court Representative

Robin W. Shearer

Juvenile Court Judge

Western Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Linnie Darden, III

Juvenile Court Judge

Atlantic Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Sarah S. Harris

Probate Court Judge

Bibb County

Probate Court Representative

Rebecca Pitts

Magistrate Court Judge

Butts County

Magistrate Court Representative

James Anderson, III

Municipal Court Judge

City of Norcross

Municipal Court Representative

Mission

The Court Reporting Matters Committee acts on behalf of the Judicial Council in handling appeals from decisions of the Board of Court Reporting; reviews and recommends changes to court reporting rules and fee schedules; approves Board of Court Reporting opinions; and recommends candidates for Board of Court Reporting membership.


JUDICIAL COUNCIL STANDING COMMITTEES

Education and Training

Staff to Committee: Stephanie Hines Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Location

Position

Brian Rickman A. Gregory Poole

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Chair

Superior Court Judge

Cobb Circuit

Vice Chair

Nancy Bills

State Court Judge

Rockdale County

State Court Representative

Stacey K. Hydrick

State Court Judge

DeKalb County

State Court Representative

C. Gregory Price

Juvenile Court Judge

Rome Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

T.J. Hudson

Probate Court Judge

Treutlen County

Probate Court Representative

Mary Kathryn Moss

Magistrate Court Judge

Chatham County

Magistrate Court Representative

Margaret Washburn

Municipal Court Judge

City of Sugar Hill

Municipal Court Representative

Mission

The Standing Committee on Education and Training recommends best practices in training and education of trial court judges to the Judicial Council.

27


28

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA STANDING COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Grants

Staff to Committee: Meisa Pace Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Location

Position

William T. Boyett

Superior Court Judge

Conasauga Circuit

Chair

Melanie B. Cross

Superior Court Judge

Tifton Circuit

Vice Chair

Anne Barnes

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Court of Appeals Representative

Walter Davis

Business Court Judge

Statewide

Business Court Representative

Jeannette L. Little

State Court Judge

Troup County

State Court Representative

William P. Bartles

Juvenile Court Judge

Flint Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Melanie Bell

Probate Court Judge

Twiggs County

Probate Court Representative

Cassandra Kirk

Magistrate Court Judge

Fulton County

Magistrate Court Representative

Graham McKinnon IV

Municipal Court Judge

City of Braselton

Municipal Court Representative

Brian McDaniel

Accountability Court Judge

Southern Circuit

Accountability Court Representative

Linda Klein

Attorney

Fulton County

State Bar Representative

Allegra Lawrence-Hardy Attorney

Fulton County

State Bar Representative

April Ross

Georgia Commission on Family Violence

Statewide

Advisory Member

Jody Overcash

District Court Administrator

7th Judicial District

Advisory Member

Mission

The Standing Committee on Grants administers grant funds awarded to the Judicial Council or Administrative Office of the Courts, and reviews applications for those funds. This Committee is a successor to the Judicial Council Domestic Violence Committee.

GRANTS COMMITTEE MILESTONES FOR 2020 The Committee awarded funds for:

• Services provided for over 3,300 protective order related cases

• 6,000+ women were protected • 3,000+ children were helped • 691victims received custody of their children

• 3,245 other cases were covered • Legal services were provided in every judicial circuit of the state. 47% of protective order cases were provided in non-metro Atlanta circuits.


JUDICIAL COUNCIL STANDING COMMITTEES

29

Judicial Workload Assessment

Staff to Committee: Christopher Hansard Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order

Name

Role

Location

Position

David T. Emerson

Superior Court Judge

Douglas Circuit

Chair

Russell Smith

Superior Court Judge

Mountain Circuit

Vice Chair

Walter Davis

State-Wide Business Court Judge

Statewide

State-wide Business Court Rep.

Stephen Kelley

Superior Court Judge

Brunswick Circuit

1st District Representative

Denise Marshall

Superior Court Judge

Dougherty Circuit

2nd District Representative

Edward Lukemire

Superior Court Judge

Houston Circuit

3rd District Representative

LaTisha Dear Jackson

Superior Court Judge

Stone Mountain Circuit 4th District Representative

Robert McBurney

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

5th District Representative

Kathryn Powers

Superior Court Judge

Clayton Circuit

6th District Representative

Robert Leonard

Superior Court Judge

Cobb Circuit

7th District Representative

Bobby Chasteen

Superior Court Judge

Cordele Circuit

8th District Representative

Bonnier Oliver

Superior Court Judge

Northeastern Circuit

9th District Representative

Sheryl B. Jolly

Superior Court Judge

Augusta Circuit

10th District Representative

Michelle L.H. Homier

State Court Judge

Cherokee County

State Court Representative

LeRoy Burke, III

Juvenile Court Judge

Eastern Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Bedelia Hargrove

Probate Court Judge

DeKalb County

Probate Court Representative

Robert Turner

Magistrate Court Judge

Houston County

Magistrate Court Representative

Matthew Jordan

Municipal Court Judge

City of Athens

Municipal Court Representative

Will Simmons

District Court Administrator

6th District

Advisory Member

Bob Nadekow

District Court Administrator

8th District

Advisory Member

Connie Cheatham

Clerk of Superior Court

McDuffie County

Advisory Member

April Garrett

Clerk of Superior Court

Cook County

Advisory Member

Lelanie Briones

Deputy Director, Prosecuting Attorneys' Council Statewide

Advisory Member

Charles Bethel

Supreme Court

Advisory Member

Mission

Statewide

The Judicial Workload Assessment Committee determines the methodology for analysis of data collected through annual trial court case counts. Additionally, based on staff studies, the Committee makes recommendations to the Judicial Council on the need for additional judicial personnel.


30

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA STANDING COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Legislation

Staff to Committee: Tracy Mason Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order Name

David E. Nahmias

Role

Presiding Justice

Location

Position

Statewide

Chair

Christopher J. McFadden Chief Judge

Statewide

Vice Chair

Shawn LaGrua

Superior Court Judge

Fulton Circuit

Member, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges

T. Russell McClelland

State Court Judge

Forsyth County

Member, President of the Council of State Court Judges

Juliette Scales

Juvenile Court Judge

Fulton Circuit

Member, President of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges

T.J. Hudson

Probate Court Judge

Treutlen County

Member, President of the Council of Probate Court Judges

Michael Barker

Magistrate Court Judge

Chatham County

Dale R. "Bubba" Samuels Municipal Court Judge

City of Monroe

William Hamrick

Superior Court Judge

Coweta Circuit

David Darden

State Court Judge

Cobb County

John Edwards

State Court Judge

Lowndes County

J.Jane Bearden

Juvenile Court Judge

Gordon County

Rooney Bowen

Probate Court Judge

Dooly County

Alice Padgett

Probate Court Judge

Columbia County

Connie Holt

Magistrate Court Judge

Morgan County

Betsey Kidwell

Magistrate Court Judge

Heard County

Charles Barrett

Municipal Court Judge

City of Duluth

Tommy Bobbitt

Municipal Court Judge

City of Dublin

Member, President of the Council of Magistrate Court Judges Member, President of the Council of Municipal Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Chair of Council of Superior Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of State Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of State Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Chair of Council of Juvenile Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Chair of Council of Probate Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Chair of Council of Probate Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of Magistrate Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of Magistrate Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of Municipal Court Judges Advisory Member, Legislative Co-Chair of Council of Municipal Court Judges

Cynthia Clanton

Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, JC/AOC

Shannon Weathers

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Superior Court Judges

Bob Bray

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of State Court Judges

Eric John

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Juvenile Court Judges

Kevin Holder

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Probate Court Judges

Sharon Reiss

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Council of Magistrate Court Judges

Brian “Buck” Rogers

President Designee

Statewide

Advisory Member, State Bar of Georgia


JUDICIAL COUNCIL STANDING COMMITTEES

Strategic Plan

31

Staff to Committee: Jessica Farah, Tynesha Manuel Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order Includes Strategic Plan Revision Sub-Committee subcommittee. The Sub-Committee is charged with suggesting revisions to the strategic plan based on challenges courts face related to COVID-19. Role

Location

Position

Sara L. Doyle

Name

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Chair

Walter Davis

Business Court Judge

Statewide

Member

Shawn LaGrua

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Member

Gregory V. Sapp

State Court Judge

Chatham County

Member

Temika Williams Murry

Juvenile Court Judge

DeKalb County

Member

Sarah S. Harris

Probate Court Judge

Bibb County

Member

Brandon T. Bryson

Magistrate Court Judge

Bartow County

Member

Matthew M. McCord

Municipal Court Judge

Stockbridge

Member

John J. Ellington

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Advisory Member

Rizza P. O'Connor

Magistrate Court Judge

State Bar of Georgia

Advisory Member

Mission

The mission of the Strategic Plan Standing Committee is to create and implement a Judicial Council strategic plan. The committee implements the initiatives of the strategic plan through the staff of the AOC. The FY 20-22 strategic plan was adopted in December of this fiscal year and work under the plan began soon after.

Mission

The Legislation Committee reviews legislation affecting the judicial branch and recommends policy positions to the Judicial Council where appropriate.


32

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA

STRATEGIC PLAN

Created by Judicial Council Standing Commitee on Strategic Plan


JC/AOC STRATEGIC PLAN

33


34

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA STANDING COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Technology

Staff to Committee: Kristy King Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order Name

Role

Location

Position

Harold D. Melton

Chief Justice

Statewide

Chair

David T. Emerson

Superior Court Judge

Douglas Circuit

Co-Chair

ShaMiracle Johnson Rankin Attorney

Fulton County

State Bar Representative

Cynthia Parks McCaskill

Attorney

Fulton County

State Bar Representative

Sterling Perry

Administrative Office of the Courts

Fulton County

AOC Representative

Sheila Studdard

Clerk of Superior Court

Fayette County

Council of Superior Court Clerks Representative

Cindy Mason

Clerk of Superior Court

Columbia County

Clerks’ Cooperative Authority Representative

Rebecca Keaton

Clerk of Superior Court

Cobb County

Clerks’ Cooperative Authority Representative

Walter Davis

State-wide Business Court Judge

Statewide

State-wide Business Court Representative

Verda Colvin

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Court of Appeals Representative

Stephen Kelley

Superior Court Judge

Brunswick Circuit

Superior Court Judge Representative

Diane Bessen

State Court Judge

Fulton County

State Court Judge Representative

Bobby Simmons

Juvenile Court Judge

Clayton Circuit

Juvenile Court Judge Representative

Patty Laine

Probate Court Judge

Cherokee County

Probate Court Judge Representative

James Altman

Magistrate Court Judge

Fulton County

Magistrate Court Judge Representative

Margaret Washburn

Municipal Court Judge

City of Sugar Hill

Municipal Court Judge Representative

T.J. Bement

District Court Administrator

10th District

Council of Court Administrators Representative

Jesse Stone

State Senator

23rd District

Senate Representative

Vacant

State Representative

House Representative

Vacant

Governor’s Office

Governor’s Representative

Wright Bank

Attorney General’s Office

Fulton County

Attorney General’s Representative

Mission

The Standing Committee on Technology provides guidance and oversight for the Judicial Council’s technology initiatives.

Mission

The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee on Improving Community Access to Legal Resources was established in June 2020 with the mission to support the identification and implementation of effective means of making legal resources available to all users of the our civil justice system, including self-represented litigants.


35 JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA

AD HOC COMMITTEES Committee on Improving Community Access to Legal Resources Staff to Committee: Tabitha Ponder and John Botero Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws, Created by Supreme Court Order Name

Role

Location

Position

Charles J. Bethel

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Co-Chair

Robert C.I. McBurney

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Co-Chair

Willie E. Lockette

Superior Court Judge

Dougherty Circuit

Member

LaTisha Dear Jackson

Superior Court Judge

Stone Mountain Circuit

Member

Cassandra Kirk

Magistrate Court Judge

Fulton County

Member

William P. Adams

State Court Judge (ret.)

Bibb County

Member

Larry B. Mims

State Court Judge (ret.)

Tift County

Member

Jason Ashford

State Court Judge

Houston County

Member, CStCJ Representative

Amber Patterson

Juvenile Court Judge

Cobb County

Member, CJCJ Representative

Detria Carter Powell

Probate Court Judge

Lowndes County

Member, CPCJ Representative

Kevin Morris

Magistrate Court Judge

Walton County

Member, CMaCJ Representative

Norman Cuadra

Municipal Court Judge

City of Suwanee

Member, CMuCJ Representative

Will Simmons

District Court Administrator

Sixth Judicial District

Member

Brad Butler

Court Administrator

Conasauga Circuit

Member

Karlise Grier

Executive Director

CJCP

Member

Michael Monahan

Executive Director

Pro Bono Resource Center, Member State Bar of Georgia

Jeannie Ashley

Director

Fulton County Justice Resource Center

Member

Jeff Davis

Attorney

Atlanta

Member

Charles T. Lester, Jr.

Attorney

Atlanta

Member

Laureen Kelly

Attorney

Albany

Member

Eleanor Crosby Lanier

Associate Dean

UGA School of Law

Member

Sarah Anderson

Attorney

Savannah

Member, Georgia Legal Services Program Designee

Cathy Waddell

Attorney

Atlanta

Member, Atlanta Legal Aid Society Designee

Yolanda Lewis

Snr. Dir., Pew Charitable Trust Atlanta

Member

Tammie Mosley

Clerk of Court

Member

Chatham County


36

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA AD HOC COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Judicial COVID-19 Task Force

Staff to Committee: Christopher Hansard, Cheryl Karounos, and Michelle Barclay Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws. Created by Supreme Court Order

Voting Members Name

Role

Location

Position

Shawn LaGrua

Superior Court Judge

Fulton Circuit

Chair

Russell McClelland

State Court Judge

Forsyth County

Vice Chair

Harold D. Melton

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Member

Ken Hodges

Appeals Court Judge

Statewide

Member

Walter Davis

State-wide Business Court Judge

Statewide

Member

Lindsay Burton

Juvenile Court Judge

Hall County

Member

Melanie Bell

Probate Court Judge

Newton County

Member

Brendan Murphy

Magistrate Court Judge

Cobb County

Member

Norman Cuadra

Municipal Court Judge

City of Suwanee

Member

Elizabeth Fite

Attorney, State Bar Representive

City of Atlanta

Member

Cindy Mason

Superior Court Clerk

Columbia County

Member

Kathlene Gosselin

Superior Court Judge

Northeastern Circuit

Member

Mission

The Judicial COVID-19 Task Force was established May 14, 2020, as an ad hoc committee of the Judicial Council, with the mission of assisting courts in conducting remote proceedings and in restoring more in­-court proceedings, in particular jury trials and grand jury proceedings. The Task Force will include judges from the various classes of court and will obtain input from key stakeholders including the State Bar of Georgia, prosecutors and public defenders, civil plaintiff and defense attorneys, court clerks, sheriffs, and the public.


JUDICIAL COUNCIL AD HOC COMMITTEES

37

Judicial COVID-19 Task Force (continued)

Staff to Committee: Christopher Hansard, Cheryl Karounos, and Michelle Barclay Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws. Created by Supreme Court Order

Advisory Members Name

Role

Location

Position

Cynthia Clanton

Director, AOC

Statewide

Advisory Member, Administrative Office of the Courts

Bryan Webb

Deputy Attorney General

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Department of Law

Doug Ashworth

Executive Director, ICJE

Statewide

Advisory Member, Institute of Conitnuing Judicial Education

Chuck Boring

Director, JQC

Statewide

Advisory Member, Judicial Qualifications Commission

Cathy Vandenberg

Deputy Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Atlanta Legal Aid

Robin Rooks

Court Administrator

Bell-Forsyth

Advisory Member, Georgia Council of Court Administrators

Robert Smith

General Counsel

Statewide

Advisory Member, Prosecuting Attorneys' Council

Jimmonique R.S. Rodgers Deputy Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Public Defender Council

Adam Malone

Executive Vice President

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

David Nelson

President

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Defense Lawyers Association

Don Samuel

past-President

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyes

Debra Nesbit

Associate Legislative Director Statewide

William Custer

Attorney

City of Atlanta

Yvette Daniels

DPH Director of University Relations

Advisory Member, Association County Commissioners of Georgia Advisory Member, Georgia Chamber of Commerce - Law and Judiciary Committee

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Department of Public Health

Marial Ellis

Chief of Staff

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Department of Community Health

Phil Sellers

Chief Information Officer

Statewide

Advisory Member, Department of Community Supervision

Terry Norris

Executive Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Georgia Sheriffs' Association

Sheila Ross

Director of Capitol Litigation Statewide

Advisory Member, Prosecuting Attorneys' Council

Michael Lucas

Deputy Director

Statewide

Advisory Member, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation

Dr. Mark Swancutt

Staff Physician

Statewide

Advisory Member, Fulton County Board of Health


38

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF GEORGIA AD HOC COMMITTEES CONTINUED

Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government Staff to Committee: Stephanie Hines Authorized by Judicial Council Bylaws. Created by Supreme Court Order Name

Role

Location

Position

Sarah Hawkins Warren Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Chair

Carla McMillan

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Court of Appeals Representative

Horace J. Johnson

Superior Court Judge

Alcovy Circuit

Superior Court Representative

Dax E. Lopez

State Court Judge

DeKalb County

State Court Representative

Maureen E. Wood

Juvenile Court Judge

Rockdale Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

T.J. Hudson

Probate Court Judge

Treutlen County

Probate Court Representative

Joyette Holmes

Magistrate Court Judge

Cobb County

Magistrate Court Representative

Matthew McCord

Municipal Court Judge

City of Stockbridge

Municipal Court Representative

Edwin Bell

Court Administrator

DeKalb County

Advisory Member

Jamala McFadden

Attorney

Statewide

Advisory Member

Shelley Seinberg

Attorney

Office of the Attorney Advisory Member General

Rebecca Sullivan

General Counsel

DOAS

Advisory Member

Mission

The Judicial Council Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government was established to research, examine, and evaluate best practices and encourage each class of court, and corresponding court councils, to establish and maintain sexual harassment policies.

The Committee concluded it's work in December 2020, making recommendations to the Judicial Council of Georgia and producing a training video for the judicial branch on sexual harrassment (pictured).


Connected Boards, Committees, Commissions, and Councils


40

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

CONNECTED BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and COUNCILS

Council of Accountability Court Judges Taylor Jones, Executive Director gaaccountabilitycourts.org

Leadership Name

Role

Location

Position

Kathlene F. Gosselin

Superior Court Judge

Northeastern Circuit

Chair

D. Scott Smith

Superior Court Judge

Cherokee Circuit

Vice-Chair

Brenda Weaver

Superior Court Judge

Appalachian Circuit

Immediate Past President

Charles E. Auslander

State Court Judge

Athens-Clarke County

Executive Committee member

James F. Bass Jr.

Superior Court Judge

Eastern Circuit

Executive Committee member

Mary Staley Clark

Superior Court Judge

Cobb Circuit

Executive Committee member

Verda M. Colvin

Superior Court Judge

Macon Circuit

Executive Committee member

Reuben M. Green

Superior Court Judge

Cobb Circuit

Executive Committee member

W. James Sizemore

Superior Court Judge

Southwestern Circuit

Executive Committee member

Russell D. Smith

Superior Court Judge

Mountain Circuit

Executive Committee member

Alison W. Toller

Juvenile Court Judge

Northeastern

Executive Committee member

Mission

To provide a unified framework that promotes and improves the quality, accessibility and administration of Accountability Courts.

Highlights

• Successfully transitioned all courts to the Level of Service Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI) from the Level of Service Inventory – Revised (LSI-R). • The 2019 Annual Training Conference was held September 15 – 18, 2019 in Athens, Top: CACJ hosted the first Cognitive Behavioral Interventions for Substance Abusers (CBI-SA) in August 2019. Bottom: The FY20 New Judges Orientation Class.


COUNCIL OF ACCOUNTABILITY COURT JUDGES

41

Georgia. 1300 attendees from Accountability • The Accountability Court Coordinator Courts across the state met in Athens for the Certification Program was launched in a largest training conference to date. Over 40 partnership with the Carl Vinson Instibreakout sessions and 3 plenaries featured tute of Government. The Program aims speakers from the National Drug Court Into increase the knowledge of the primary stitute (NDCI), Georgia School of Addiction administrative functions of accountability Studies (GSAS), NPC Research, Center for court coordinators, develop the skills necesCourt Innovation, National Highway Traffic sary to carry out the administrative funcSafety Administration, American University tions as an accountability court coordinator, (NHTSA) , Prevention Research Institute develop and maintain the high standards (PRI), and Georgia’s accountability courts for the functioning of the accountability and stakeholders. The conference also intro- courts, and increase the professionalism of duced a new feature, the mobile app. accountability court coordinators. • Facilitated and hosted many training accross • On a weekly basis compiled resources to the state including a two day training for 17 assist courts with adapting to the rapidly new accountability court judges and senior changing environments caused by the judges. Partnered with national organizaCOVID-19 pandemic. tions to host trainings such as the National Drug Court Institute for a two day Regional Substance Use Disorder Treatment Provider Training in January. The CACJ held its largest training to date in September 2019. There 1390 registered attendees, special guests, speakers, and exhibitors. 4 plenary sessions and 28 breakout live sessions were hosted over the 3 days, that included wellness breaks of yoga, meditation, and a CACJ Boogie Down Soundtrack.


42

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

CONNECTED BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and COUNCILS

Commission on Dispute Resolution

Tracy Johnson, Executive Director; Karlie Sahs, Program Manager godr.org

Leadership Chairperson

Judge Jane C. Barwick Chairperson-Elect

Judge M. Cindy Morris Commission Members

Justice Keith R. Blackwell Justice John J. Ellington Judge Amanda H. Mercier Judge Charles E. Auslander, III Emily S. Bair, Esq. N. Staten Bitting, Jr., Esq. Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr. Mary S. Donovan, Esq. Judge C. Andrew Fuller Herbert H. (Hal) Gray, III, Esq. Melissa C. Heard, M.S.S.W. Nicole W. Hull, Esq. Patrick T. O’Connor, Esq. Rep. Jay Powell, Esq. Edith B. Primm, Esq. Judge Renata D. Turner Randall Weiland Peggy McCoy Wilson

Mission

The Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution is a policy-making body appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court of Georgia, charged with helping to fulfill its Constitutional mandate to “provide for the speedy, efficient, and inexpensive resolution of disputes and prosecutions” in the judiciary. The Commission does this by managing a statewide system that offers true and effective alternatives to traditional litigation. Those alternatives – mediation, non-binding arbitration, and case evaluation – give Georgia litigants lower-cost choices for resolving their differences, and they help save scarce court resources for those cases that cannot be resolved without judge or jury.

Highlights

•There are currently 41 court ADR programs in Georgia, offering high-quality, cost-effective alternatives to traditional litigation. These services cover 93 of the 159 counties and utilize neutrals registered through the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution (the Commission’s administrative body) in a rage of categories that include General Civil Mediation, Domestic Relations Mediation, Specialized Domestic Violence Mediation, Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation, Juvenile Delinquency Mediation, and Juvenile Dependency Mediation. As of June 30, 2020,

New members of leadership Top row, left to right: N. Staten Bitting, Jr. Esq., Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr. Bottom: Peggy McCoy Wilson (left) and Judge Cindy Morris pictured with Justice John J. Ellington at their swearing-in.


COMMISSION ON DISPUTE RESOLUTION

there were 2,755 registered neutrals. The partnership between neutrals, court ADR programs, and the Commission creates a comprehensive network that benefits taxpayers, litigants, attorneys, judges, and courts. •26th Annual ADR Institute and 2019 Neutrals’ Conference: The Institute was held Friday, December 13, 2019, at the Georgia State University College of Law. There were 244 attendees in total. The keynote speaker was Hon. Wayne D. Brazil, former federal judge and JAMS mediator & arbitrator, with his presentation “ADR & Access to Justice”. The 2019 Chief Justice Harold G. Clarke Award was presented to Melissa C. Heard, M.S.S.W. in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of alternative dispute resolution in Georgia. •Online Domestic Violence Screening Tool: In 2018, the GCDR approved new Rules for Mediating Cases Involving Issues of Domestic Violence. These rules, in part, provide additional requirements for the screening of parties in all domestic relations cases. To assist court ADR programs with the screening process, the Commission has developed the Online Screening Tool to capture information from parties prior to mediation. This tool was created by the IT division of the Judicial Council/ Administrative Office of the Courts. Comprehensive training has begun for applicable registered neutrals. Court ADR program staff will be trained prior to the Rules’ effective date of January 1, 2021.

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•Changes in GCDR Leadership: The Supreme Court of Georgia has appointed Superior Court Judge M. Cindy Morris, Conasauga Judicial Circuit, as the new Chair-Elect of the Commission on Dispute Resolution. Judge Morris and new member Peggy McCoy Wilson, registered mediator from Quitman County and member of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, were sworn in at the January 29, 2019 meeting. The Supreme Court has approved the addition of a new seat on the Commission, which allows for an additional trial court judge (nonSuperior Court). Following this addition, the Commission also welcomed two additional new members- Judge Clarence Cuthpert, Jr., Rockdale County Probate Court, and N. Staten Bitting, Jr., Esq., attorney & mediator from Augusta. Former Commission members Raymond G. Chadwick, Jr., Esq. and Timothy K. Hedeen were recognized for their service. •2019 Program Directors Conference: The conference was held September 9-11, 2019, in St. Simons Island. In all, 25 representatives from court ADR programs and 7 Commission Members were in attendance.

Karlie A. Sahs, Program Manager, Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution; Tracy Johnson, Executive Director, Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution; Melissa C. Heard, Award Recipient; and Stacey Mitchener, Esq., President, Dispute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Georgia.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

CONNECTED BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and COUNCILS

Committee on Justice for Children Authorized and Created by the Supreme Court Staff to the Committee: Jerry Bruce georgiacourts.gov/j4c/ Name

Role

Location

Position

David E. Nahmias

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Chair

Kim Anderson

Attorney

Fulton County

Member

Mandi Ballinger

State Representative

Bartow County

Member

Michael Boggs

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Member

W. Bradley Bryant

Georgia Student Finance Commission

Fulton County

Member

Lindsay H. Burton

Juvenile Court Judge

Hall County

Member

Christopher Carr

Attorney General

Statewide

Member

Rachel Davidson

Georgia Office of the Child Advocate

Statewide

Member

Stephen Louis A. Dillard

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Member

Chuck Efstration

State Representative

Gwinnett County

Member

Darice Good

Attorney

Fulton County

Member

Britt Hammond

Superior Court Judge

Toombs Circuit

Member

Render Heard, Jr.

Juvenile Court Judge

Tift County

Member

Amanda Heath

Juvenile Court Judge

Augusta Circuit

Member

Dr. Sharon L. Hill

Georgia State University

Fulton County

Member

Lisa Jones

Juvenile Court Judge

Southwestern Circuit

Member

R. Michael Key

Juvenile Court Judge

Coweta Circuit

Member

Jennifer King

Executive Director, Georgia CASA

Statewide

Member

Nealie McCormick

Georgia Council on American Indian Concerns

Mitchell County

Member

Gary McGiboney

Georgia Department of Education

Fulton County

Member

Mary Margaret Oliver

State Representative

82nd District

Member

Tyrone Oliver

Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice

Statewide

Member

Tom Rawlings

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services Statewide

Member

Juliette Scales

Juvenile Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Member

Freddie Powell Sims

State Senator

12th District

Member

Blake Tillery

State Senator

19th District

Member

Catherine Vandenberg

Atlanta Legal Aid

Atlanta Circuit

Member

Michael Waller

Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Ocmulgee Circuit

Member

Catherine Vandenberg

Atlanta Legal Aid

Fulton County

Member

Dave Willis

Association of County Commissioners of Georgia Statewide

Member

Robert Wright

Bishop, Episcopal Diocese, Atlanta

Fulton County

Member

Stephanie Zaic

Attorney

Towns County

Member


COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN

Mission:

Striving to improve justice for children and families within the child welfare legal system.

Highlights:

• Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse and Neglect Institute (MD-CANI): The Institute is a Georgia-specific iteration of a national Child Abuse and Neglect Institute provided by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. MD-CANI Planning place in August 2016 and brought together stakeholders from across the state for a twoday introduction to the CANI curriculum. MDCANI Part 1 is an intensive, two-day immersion training in local jurisdictions, now expanded to include judges and all stakeholders, which covers the law and best practices in the first 75 days of a dependency case. MDCANI Part 2 is another intensive, two-day training for local jurisdictions, this time focusing on issues related to child wellbeing and permanency. As of January 31, 2020, we provided MD-CANI Part 1 & 2 training to 54 jurisdictions. • Co-sponsored the third annual Child Welfare Legal Summit in November 2019, in partnership with the Office of the Child Advocate and the Division of Family and Children Services, with nearly 650 attendees. • Continue to support the Cold Case Project which is a joint project of J4C, the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), and the Division of Family and Children Services. The Project identifies children in foster care whose cases are not moving toward permanency via a computer model and convenes the stakeholders to review

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substantive due process rights of the children and to brainstorm solutions to permanency roadblocks. • Continue to support the 60 Georgia Child Welfare Law Specialists with bi-annual trainings and scholarships. • Provided stakeholder educational opportunities at two Court Improvement Initiative meetings for approximately 100 stakeholders attending from 17 jurisdictions. • Continued work to enhance the Court Process Reporting System (CPRS). It is estimated by DFCS that using CPRS to upload orders will save the State some $4 million dollars each year; this is the amount typically lost in federal IV-E reimbursements due to unavailability of court orders when the state is audited by our federal partners. CPRS is adding features to assist with virtual hearings. • Promoted awareness of the importance of child welfare work by awarding the annual Hines Award to one child welfare attorney and one child welfare case manager. The awards were presented by Presiding Justice Nahmias at a special ceremony at the Nathan Deal Judicial Center to attorney Afiya Hinkson and case manager Charles Williams.

Committee Chair Presiding Justice David E. Nahmias presented the 2020 Hines Awards to Afiya Hinkson and Charles Williams at a special socially distant ceremony.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

CONNECTED BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and COUNCILS

Georgia Commission on Child Support

Staff to the Commission: Elaine Johnson, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez, and Latoinna Lawrence Created and authorized by O.C.G.A. § § 19-6-50, 53 https://csc.georgiacourts.gov/

Name

Role

Location

Position

R. Michael Key Anne Elizabeth Barnes

Juvenile Court Judge

Coweta Circuit

Chair

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Member

Charles Clay

Attorney

Fulton County

Member

Kathleen Connell

Attorney

Cobb County

Member

Emanuel Jones

State Senator

District10

Member

Lisa C. Jones

Juvenile Court Judge

Southwestern Circuit

Member

Shawn LaGrua

Superior Court Judge

Atlanta Circuit

Member

Emory Palmer

Superior Court Judge

Coweta Circuit

Member

Lisa C. Jones

Juvenile Court Judge

Southwestern Circuit

Member

Dr. Roger Tutterow

Economist

Kennesaw State University

Member

Wendy Williamson

Attorney

Chatham County

Member

Vacant

Superior Court Judge

Vacant

Member

Vacant

State Representative

Vacant

Member

Vacant

State Representative

Vacant

Member

Vacant

State Senator

Vacant

Member

Mission The Child Support Commission was created by statute for the purpose of collecting information and studying data related to awards of child support and to create and revise the child support obligation table. To maintain effective and efficient child support guidelines that will serve the best interest of Georgia’s children, the Commission conducts comprehensive reviews of the child support guidelines and economic conditions while bearing in mind the changing dynamics of family life and all other relevant matters.

The Commission staff trains judges, attorneys, mediators, staff of the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), and the public around the state; develops and maintains the state’s child support calculator and worksheets; maintains websites for the Child Support Commission and for Georgia’s Income Deduction Order process in private child support actions; and proposes legislation when it deems an amendment to the guidelines statute is necessary.


GEORGIA COMMISSION ON CHILD SUPPORT

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Highlights The Child Support Commission did not prepare or sponsor legislation in 2020, instead, their focus was on the two study committees established in November 2018, for a two-year period, to study the LowIncome Deviation and the Parenting Time Deviation. This work continues in 2020 and will conclude at the end of this year when the study committees will consider recommendations to the Commission for possible future legislation on these issues. Staff continued training on January 28, at the State Bar, Atlanta, and on February 21, in Macon on the child support guidelines, online calculator, and Georgia’s Income Deduction Order process. Since that time the COVID-19 pandemic has halted in-person training, but staff successfully

conducted virtual training for attorneys on April 24, 2020. Online training for the legal community will continue to be offered. Staff are developing training scripts for the Division of Child Support Services and self-represented litigants, which will be recorded and made available online. Staff continue to support the Department of Human Services, Division of Child Support Services’ Parental Accountability Courts in providing a database for the collection of information on participants used in evaluating court programs. With assistance from Matthew Bishop of the JC/AOC Research Department, we are developing a second evaluation report on the effectiveness and continued growth of those courts.

Left to right: Elaine Johnson and a guest at a child support training in Macon on February 21, 2020, Noelle Lagueux-Alvarez conducting a training at the Cobb Superior Court on November 22, 2019, the December 9 Commission meeting in Atlanta.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

CONNECTED BOARDS, COMMITTEES, COMMISSIONS and COUNCILS

Georgia Commission on Interpreters Staff to the Commission: John Botero Authorized and Created by the Supreme Court georgiacourts.gov/coi/

Name

Role

Location

Position

Keith R. Blackwell Sarah Warren

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Co-Chair

Supreme Court Justice

Statewide

Co-Chair

Clyde Reese

Court of Appeals Judge

Statewide

Vice Chair

Stephen Nevels

Public

Jackson County

Non-Attorney Representative

María Ceballos-Wallis

Public

DeKalb County

Public

Christopher Paul

Attorney

Bartow County

State Bar Representative

Jana Edmondson-Cooper Attorney

Fulton County

State Bar Representative

Dax E. López

State Court Judge

DeKalb County

State Court Representative

Pilar Archila

Public

Laurens County

Non-Attorney Representative

Meng Lim

Superior Court Judge

Tallapoosa Circuit

Superior Court Representative

Robert Waller, III

Juvenile Court Judge

Gwinnett Circuit

Juvenile Court Representative

Ruth R. McMullin

Magistrate Court Judge

Gwinnett Circuit

Magistrate Court Representative

Mazi Mazloom

Municipal Court Judge

City of Marietta

Municipal Court Representative

Bert Reeves

State Representative

Cobb County

General Assembly Representative

Detria Carter Powell

Probate Court Judge

Lowndes County

Probate Court Representative

Mission

To provide interpreter licensing, regulatory, and educational services for Georgia courts so they can ensure the rights of non-English speaking persons.

Highlights

Staff moved all trainings to an online setting to ensure that candidates were safe during the pandemic and to ensure that all candidates would have a on-demand training setting. Top: September 2019 Orientation Workshop, Below, left to right: Carola Lehmacher-Richez (COI Instructor), Maria Ceballos-Wallis (COI Commission member and Instructor), John Botero (Program Manager, Office of Court Professionals), Gabriel Rueda (COI Instructor), and Bianca Bennett (Events and Testing Manager)


GEORGIA COMMISSION ON INTERPRETERS

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Board of Court Reporting

Staff to the Board: John Botero Authorized and Created by Statute. Reports to the Judicial Council's Court Reporting Matters Standing Committee georgiacourts.gov/bcr/ Name

Role

Location

Position

John Kent Edwards, Jr. Randi Strumlauf

State Court Judge

Lowndes County

Chair

Freelance Court Reporter, Voice Writer

Gwinnett County

Vice-Chair

Brenda Trammell

Superior Court Judge

Ocmulgee Circuit

Board Member

Frederic Bold, Jr.

Attorney

Fulton County

Board Member

Daniel Gershwin

Freelance Court Reporter, Machine Shorthand Fulton County

Board Member

Kevin King

Freelance Court Reporter, Machine Shorthand Fulton County

Board Member

Christopher Paul Twyman

Attorney

Floyd County

Board Member

Kate Cochran

Freelance Court Reporter, Machine Shorthand Fulton County

Board Member

Pavon Bohanan

Freelance Court Reporter, Voice Writer

Hall County

Board Member

Cynthia H. Clanton

Director, JC/AOC

Fulton County

Board Secretary

Mission

The Georgia General Assembly established the Board of Court Reporting of the Judicial Council of Georgia to ensure the integrity and competency of the court reporting practice. The Board of Court Reporting establishes and enforces standards that govern court reporters and provides a forum for an exchange of ideas and educational services.

Highlights

Staff moved all trainings to an online setting to ensure that candidates were safe during the pandemic and to ensure that all candidates would have a on-demand training setting.


Reports from Appellate Courts and Trial Courts Councils


SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

51

Supreme Court of Georgia gasupreme.us

The year 2020 at the state Supreme Court breaks down into two distinct periods: life before the pandemic and life during the pandemic. LIFE BEFORE COVID-19 WAS DECLARED AN EMERGENCY:

The year began in a swirl of activity at the brand new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in downtown Atlanta, a short walk from the State Capitol building. No sooner had the justices and court staff moved into Georgia’s first building dedicated solely to the judiciary than oral arguments were held on January 14 in the new majestic Supreme Court courtroom located on the top floor. On January 29, Georgia legislators attended a special breakfast in their honor in the light-filled atrium just outside the courtroom. Justices and judges of the Georgia Court of Appeals, the state’s intermediate appellate court, then escorted individual groups of lawmakers on a tour of

the building. Later that afternoon, media from around the state also toured the building with Chief Justice Melton and former Governor Nathan Deal, after whom the building is named. It was the first time the former governor got to see his namesake. A highlight was the new furniture throughout the building that was made by prison inmates. Former inmate William Rutledge assisted the Chief Justice on the media tour and described how he had designed a number of pieces in the new building, including the large rounded conference table in the Supreme Court Banc Room where the Justices meet to discuss and decide cases. The purchase of this furniture

Top, left: Oral arguments were held for the first time on Jan. 14, 2020 in the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center, the first state building in Georgia history dedicated solely to the judiciary. Top, right: Former Governor Nathan Deal, after whom the new judicial building is named, inspects a table in the Chief Justice’s conference room that was designed and made by Georgia prison inmates. Middle: The justices’ chairs in the new courtroom were brought from the old courtroom and reupholstered by inmates at Montgomery State Prison. The chairs were then embroidered with the court seal by inmates at Hancock State Prison. Bottom, left: As dawn breaks the morning of Jan. 29, 2020, justices and judges chat over breakfast with Georgia legislators who were invited to tour the new judicial building. Bottom, right: The new Supreme Court courtroom features columns made of North Georgia marble that was mined in the town of Nelson.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS

through the Georgia Correctional Industries allowed the appellate courts to support the mission of rehabilitation while securing firstrate furnishings at a reasonable cost and helping to keep the overall building project under budget. On February 11, the day before February oral arguments were to get underway, a formal dedication of the new building was held under a tent directly outside the front of the building. Georgia native and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas, gave the keynote address; Rep. Calvin Smyre gave the invocation. Both Governor Brian Kemp and former Governor Deal addressed a crowd that included many luminaries, including Speaker of the House David Ralston, a number of former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justices, legislators, constitutional officers, and federal judges. Two days later, on February 13, Justice Robert Benham – the first African American appointed to the state Supreme Court and a pillar of Georgia history – presided over his last oral arguments before his retirement March 1 after more than 35 years on the bench. Calling Justice Benham a “kind, thoughtful, and softspoken man,” Chief Justice Melton said that the courts of Georgia were better because Justice Benham “has always been fighting” for justice. Throughout January and February, the nine Justices continued to hear oral arguments and to write and issue opinions in appeals and lawyer disciplinary cases. Then came March.

LIFE AFTER COVID-19 WAS DECLARED AN EMERGENCY:

On March 12, 2020, in an emergency phone call with judges representing all classes of courts, Chief Justice Melton told the judicial leaders that under state law, the chief judge of each judicial circuit had the authority to declare a local judicial emergency and suspend jury trials in response to the threat of COVID-19. The next day, Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher became the first to do so. Others around the state soon followed suit. On March 14, 2020, Chief Justice Melton, as head of Georgia’s judicial branch, declared a Statewide Judicial Emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus in Georgia “and the potential infection of those who work in or are required to appear in our courts.” The order took effect immediately and was due to expire 30 days later, as state law authorizes. “Following Governor Kemp’s declaration today of a Public Health State of Emergency, I am directing the judicial branch of government to suspend all but essential court functions,” Chief Justice Melton said. “These critical matters will remain a priority in our courts.” That first statewide order suspended a number of judicial deadlines and urged courts to begin using video conferencing where possible as a safe alternative to in-person proceedings. The courts were to remain open, and the order directed courts to prioritize matters such as domestic abuse restraining orders, mental health commitment hearings, and cases “where an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available.” In the ensuing months, the Chief Justice signed a new order at the end of each 30-day period extending the Statewide Judicial Emergency. He Former Governor Nathan Deal, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton of the Georgia Supreme Court, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court, and Governor Brian Kemp were among those who participated in the dedication of the Nathan Deal Judicial Center on Feb. 11, 2020.


SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

held virtual meetings nearly every week to discuss the orders with the Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the state’s judicial branch that is made up of judges representing every class of court in the state. To encourage courts and litigants to aggressively clear out backlogs in cases, the Supreme Court reinstated on July 14 many of the court deadlines or litigating parties that had been suspended. Criminal and civil jury trials and most grand jury proceedings continued to be prohibited around the state. However, in the order Chief Justice Melton signed in mid-August, he made clear that, “This broad prohibition cannot last too much longer, even if the pandemic continues, because the judicial system, and the criminal justice system in particular, must have some capacity to resolve cases by indictment and trial.” On September 10, 2020, Chief Justice Melton signed an order that authorized the resumption of grand jury proceedings “if doing so can be done safely and in compliance with public health guidance based on local conditions.” The order stated that the goal of the next 30-day extension order in mid-October would be to authorize the resumption of jury trials. From the beginning of the emergency, the state Supreme Court took a number of steps to assist courts and litigants to continue court business during the pandemic, such as by amending trial court rules to allow virtual hearings through video conferencing technology in proceedings that normally require the physical presence of the judge and parties. All the orders and actions taken by the Supreme Court throughout this pandemic – including the high court’s decision to replace the in-person Georgia Bar Exam with an online test – are posted on the court’s website at www. gasupreme.us. On April 10, 2020 – nearly a month after the declaration of a Statewide Judicial Emergency – Governor Brian Kemp maintains a safe social distance while swearing in Carla Wong McMillian as the first Asian American appointed to the state’s high court. Her husband, Lance McMillian, holds the Bible during the outdoor ceremony at Liberty Plaza.

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The nine justices of the Georgia Supreme Court quickly adapted to using Zoom video conferencing technology to keep the business of the court moving. Early in the emergency, the court began to meet remotely to discuss and issue opinions and to hold oral arguments.

When the emergency first started, the Georgia Supreme Court postponed three days of March oral arguments. But the Court quickly adapted to the use of Zoom video conferencing technology, and with the exception of March, did not miss a single month of arguments. The cases canceled in March were added to the April calendar. Not surprisingly, however, the overall number of cases orally argued before the court declined in 2020: 34 cases were argued May through October in 2020 versus 52 cases that were argued during the same six-month period in 2019. Nevertheless, the number of opinions issued by the court remained about the same in both years: 121 opinions were issued May through August in 2020 versus 126 opinions that were issued during the same months in 2019. One bright spot through this unusual year was the appointment of a new justice. On March 27, Gov. Kemp appointed Judge Carla Wong McMillian of the Georgia Court of Appeals to take the seat of the recently retired Justice Benham. Justice McMillian is the first Asian American ever appointed to the state’s highest court. The court is expecting to have another new justice by the end of the year to replace Justice Keith R. Blackwell, who announced he would retire in November.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Court of Appeals of Georgia gaappeals.us

Mission

Sitting in five three-judge panels, the Court of Appeal handles the majority of appeals in Georgia, and is responsible for assuring that the rule of law applies equally to all appeals and that they are resolved correctly and promptly. As an appellate court with statewide jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals shares responsibility with the Supreme Court for producing a clear and consistent body of case law that can be relied upon throughout the state.

Highlights • Held offsite oral arguments in Macon, Blue Ridge, Albany, and Vidalia

• Moved into the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center

• Began teleworking during pandemic with minimal staff in the Clerk’s Office

• Installed a drop box to increase safety of parties, lawyers, and staff

• Conducted oral arguments online for the first time

• Implemented e-filing for self-represented parties

• Updated the online Citizens Guide to Filing Appeals

• Further expanded electronic records transfers from trial courts

• Scanned all extant paper records in appeals under consideration

• Continued to deepen cybersecurity defenses

Judges Trea Pipkin (top) and Verda Colvin were both sworn in by Governor Kemp in a socially distant outdoor ceremony.

On May 5, 2020, the Court of Appeals heard its first oral argument by Zoom in Barry v. Barry, Case. No. A20A0839.


COURT OF APPEALS OF GEORGIA

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COURT OF APPEALS 2020 MILESTONES •3,130 DECISIONS •2,382 DIRECT APPEALS DECIDED • 1,186 CRIMINAL APPEALS •1,196 CIVIL APPEALS •1,714 OPINIONS ISSUED •702 APPLICATIONS DECIDED •46 EMERGENCY MOTIONS DECIDED (60.9% WERE GRANTED) •208+ FINAL DECISIONS PER JUDGE •2 NEW JUDGES ADDED

John A. “Trea” Pipkin Verda M. Colvin •1 JUDGE ELEVATED TO THE SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA

Carla Wong McMillian (by appointment)

The Court of Appeals judges and staff mourned the passing in 2019 of Judge Stephen S. Goss (left) and retired Judge Gary Blaylock Andrews.

First Row, L to R: Christopher J. McFadden, Chief Judge Anne Elizabeth Barnes, Presiding Judge M. Yvette Miller, Presiding Judge Sara L. Doyle, Presiding Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard, Presiding Judge Second Row, L to R: Clyde L. Reese, Presiding Judge Brian M. Rickman, Vice Chief Judge Amanda H. Mercier, Judge E. Trenton Brown, III, Judge Elizabeth Gobeil, Judge Third Row, L to R: Christian A. Coomer, Judge Todd Markle, Judge Kenneth B. Hodges, III, Judge John A. "Trea" Pipkin, III, Judge Verda M. Colvin, Judge


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Georgia State-wide Business Court www.georgiabusinesscourt.com/

Mission

To lower costs, improve the efficiency of all courts, and promote predictability of judicial outcomes in certain complex business disputes for the benefit of all citizens of this state

Overview

The business court will have the authority to hear claims involving the Uniform Commercial Code, the Georgia Uniform Securities Act, the Georgia Business Corporation Code, Georgia Trade Securities Act, and other business disputes. The court also has supplemental jurisdiction over all related pending claims. The new court’s jurisdiction will be limited to claims greater than $500,000–except for commercial real estate, which will be limited to claims greater than $1 million. The cost to file a case in the business court is $3,000. For the same fee, qualifying cases may be transferred from state courts to the business court with the consent of the parties.

Judge Walter Davis at his swearing-in on July 15, 2020.


GEORGIA STATE-WIDE BUSINESS COURT

Rules Commission Members Jessica Perry Corley, Esq. William P. Horkan, Esq Lester B. Johnson, III, Esq. Usha R. Rodrigues, Esq. Judge J. Stephen “Steve” Schuster Rocco E. Testani Robert A. Watts Joel O. Wooten

Highlights • A constitutional amendment is approved by voters in the November 2018 election creating the court

• HB 239 is passed in 2019 legislative session establishing the court.

• Judge Walter Davis is appointed as the court's first judge on July 15, 2019.

• An eight person commission is selected to help formulate the rules for the court.

• The Georgia State-wide Business Court begins to accept cases on August 1, 2020.

Construction on the Georgia State-wide Business Court's courtroom as of June 2020.

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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of Superior Court Judges Executive Director: Shannon Weathers georgiasuperiorcourts.org

Vision:

Leadership:

Judicial Excellence; Accessible, Effective, and Efficient Superior Courts.

President Judge Brian J. Amero, Flint Judicial Circuit

Mission:

President Elect Judge J. Wade Padgett, Augusta Judicial Circuit

The Council of Superior Court Judges’ mission is to provide leadership and support to preserve the ability of the Courts to meet their constitutional and statutory responsibilities and further the administration of justice while functioning as a liaison with other courts and the other two branches of Government. The Council provides payroll and travel reimbursements; budget administration and accounting; leave entry, benefit coordination, and other human resources needs for all judges and their state-paid staff; and management of all superior court statewide accounting functions. The Council also provides legal support for required publications such as the Uniform Rules for Superior Courts and Pattern Jury Instructions; statewide legal support for judges handling death penalty habeas corpus cases; logistics for seminars and meetings; and numerous other critical statewide functions for superior courts. The Council office also serves as the hub for legislative tracking, meeting coordination, and monitoring during the legislative session.

Secretary Treasurer Art L. Smith, III, Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Immediate Past President Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua, Atlanta Judicial Circuit

Goals: The Council’s long-term goal is to seek sufficient funding to provide state paid law clerks for the 34 Superior Court judges who do not already have a state or county paid law clerk.

Left to right: Judge Daniel Coursey and Judge William T. Boyett were the recipients of the 2020 Emory Findley Award.


COUNCIL OF SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES

59

Highlights: New Judgeships: The Council is grateful to the General Assembly and Governor Brian Kemp for the creation of much needed new judgeships in the Cobb Judicial Circuit, the Flint Judicial Circuit, and the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit during the 2020 legislative session. These judgeships are effective January 1, 2022. COVID Response: The Superior Court Judges across our state have worked tirelessly to ensure access to our courts during the pandemic while also working to protect the safety and health of our employees and the public. Immediate Past President Shawn Ellen LaGrua has worked to coordinate efforts of the Superior Court with other classes of court. We are thankful to all of our judges for navigating the unique challenges of COVID-19. Pattern Jury Instructions Rewrite Initiative: The Council is in the process of rewriting many of the suggested pattern jury instructions in plain English. A subcommittee within the Council is spearheading this long-term project and is focusing first on the criminal instructions. This initiative is intended to better assist

judges in the instruction of jurors by promoting a clear and concise presentation of the law to citizens serving on a jury. New Judges’ Orientation: “Superior Court Judges Wade Padgett and Tain Kell have worked diligently to create and facilitate a 'New Judges’ Orientation” program, which is held each year in December. This orientation program trains all newly appointed and elected judges to prepare them for success as they take the bench. Judge Padgett and Judge Kell also co-host the “Good Judge-ment” podcast, which covers additional educational discussions relevant to the judiciary. The podcast is for all judges, lawyers, and the public free of charge in iTunes. Emory Findley Award: Each year the Council recognizes a deserving judge with the distinguished Emory Findley Award for Outstanding Judicial Service. This year, two recipients were named: Judge William T. Boyett of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit and Judge Daniel Coursey of the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit. Both were recognized for their leadership and vision of improving superior courts throughout Georgia. We are thankful for their service.

Swearing-in ceremonies, left to right: James L. Prine, Southern Judicial Circuit; Angela D. Duncan, Gwinnett Judicial Circuit; Benjamin D. Coker, Griffin Judicial Circuit.


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JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of State Court Judges Executive Director: Bob Bray georgiacourts.gov/statecourt/

Leadership:

Highlights:

• Judge Alvin T. (Al) Wong was recently presented the WWAAC 2019 National Spotlight Award by Who’s Who in Asian President Elect American Communities at the Manuel Maloof Judge Alvin T. Wong, DeKalb County Auditorium in Decatur this past August. • The State Court of Bibb County received a Secretary grant from BJA’s Swift, Certain, and Fair Judge R. Violet Bennett, Wayne County program, and in January they will launch their Treasurer Swift, Certain, and Fair Domestic Violence Judge John K. Edwards, Jr, Lowndes County Intensive Probation. A clinical evaluation will be performed on each DV defendant within 10 Past President Judge T. Russell McClelland, Forsyth County days of their plea or conviction, and the results of that evaluation used to assign appropriate conditions of probation (FVIP, Substance Mission and Goals: Abuse Treatment, Anger Management, “Impartial Courts - Judicial Excellence Individual Counselling). Grant funds will Accessible and Efficient Justice.” The Council pay for most of the treatments. The intent is consists of 129 active judges, who serve in to identify what the probationers need and to 71 counties, and a number of Senior Judges eliminate barriers to getting it. If probationers and Judges Emeritus. Each year the Council violate a condition, they are brought to court develops a Strategic Business Plan to further quickly and sanctions are imposed within the its mission toward the improvement of State framework of a matrix provided to them at the Courts, the quality and expertise of its judges, outset. If they are meeting conditions over to maintain the impartiality of the judiciary defined periods, incentives are given within the and to ensure the fair, efficient administration framework of the matrix provided to them at of justice. The five Strategic Objectives of the the outset. The program will be based on the Council are to: President Judge Wesley B. Tailor, Fulton County

1. Support the State Courts 2. Enhance Effectiveness and Continuity of our Council 3. Support the Judiciary as a whole 4. Foster Relationships within the Judiciary and with other branches of government 5. Serve, inform and interact with the public

The State Court of Bibb County Swift, Certain, and Fair program team


COUNCIL OF STATE COURT JUDGES

61

Court presided over by Judge Charles Auslander percentage of probationers who successfully was named one of four National DWI complete probation and based on recidivism Treatment Courts by the National Center of rates for these probationers, as compared to DWI Courts and National Highway Traffic and probationers from the years before we started Safety Administration in Athens on February the program. 28th. The Athens-Clarke DWI Treatment • Chief Judge H. Gregory Fowler of the State Court is the only court in the nation to have Court of Chatham County was presented the achieved this honor three previous times. The Ogden Doremus / Kent Lawrence Award. first being under the leadership of the Judge N. The award is given to a state court judge that Kent Lawrence who recently passed away in has achieved the highest level of respect from March. his or her peers as being a judge recognized for their judicial ethics and professionalism on the bench and their involvement in their communities. In the award presentation it was noted that Judge Fowler created one of the first DUI Drug Judge Charles Auslander accepts the Award designating the Courts as they were known Chief Judge Athens-Clarke County DWI Treatment Court as a National DWI H. Gregory Fowler, State Academy Court along with his DWI Court Treatment Team. in the early years. His Court of Chatham County. court became a model for • This year the Georgia General Assembly DUI Courts in Georgia and the nation. created the State Court of Paulding County and • State court judges that were recently appointed the State Court of Barrow County. Governor by Governor Kemp to fill vacancies in superior Brian Kemp also signed legislation creating courts: DeKalb County State Court Judge a second judgeship for the State Court of Kimberly A. Alexander (Traffic Division); Rockdale County. DeKalb County State Court Judge Kimberly • The State Court of DeKalb County was recently K. Anderson (Jury Division) and Bibb County highlighted on WSB TV for the initiation of its State Court Judge Sharrell F. Lewis. Governor Online Case Resolution Platform. Chief Judge Kemp also appointed Judge Joseph Cushner Wayne Purdom noted: “Motorists issued traffic to the State Court of Bulloch County to fill the citations in DeKalb County now can resolve vacancy created by the retirement of Judge their cases more quickly and efficiently online.” Gary Mikell. Presiding Judge Ronald Ramsey who heads the • The Athens-Clarke County DWI Treatment Traffic Division of the State Court.


62

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of Juvenile Court Judges Executive Director: Eric John georgiacourts.gov/cjcj/

Mission:

The Juvenile Court’s mission is to serve the community by assisting children and families in need and to protect the community by administering individual justice and deterring delinquent behavior through the court and community-based services from the Programs arm of the Court and the Department of Juvenile Justice probation services.

Vision:

The Juvenile Court’s vision is to achieve excellence by providing quality services for the positive development of children, the safety of the community and the preservation of the family unit. The Council of Juvenile Court Judges provides support to the juvenile court judges through legal research services, legislative tracking, and specialized programs to assist in protecting the best interests of children and the state.

Judge Lisa Jones (1st column, row 4) being sworn-in as president of the Council of Juvenile Court Judges in May 2020

Leadership:

President Judge Lisa C. Jones Southwestern Judicial Circuit President-Elect Judge C. Gregory Price Rome Judicial Circuit Vice-President Judge Render M. Heard Jr. Tifton Judicial Circuit Secretary Judge Lindsay Burton Northeastern Judicial Circuit Treasurer Judge Warner Kennon Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Past-President Judge Juliette Wiltshire Scales Atlanta Judicial Circuit


COUNCIL OF JUVENILE COURT JUDGES

Highlights:

Juvenile Data Exchange (JDEX): The JDEX initiative centralizes data on juvenile offenders, providing judges a complete picture of data for offenders. JDEX was brought online in June 2019. Trainings across the state were held with a shift towards virtual trainings after the onset of the pandemic. Justice Case Activity Tracking System (JCATS): Forty (40) counties use this case management system (CMS) that is either JcatsWeb or JcatsCourtGA in their court. Approximately eighty-eight (88%) of the delinquent cases in the state are captured by these JCATS CMSs. Since 2015, there has been an increase of 30% of the counties using JCATS. The latest county to come on board was Tift County under Judge Render Heard. There are four (4) pending counties to have JCATS added by the end of 2020. Children In Need of Services (CHINS): • Hosted the first CHINS annual state Conference in November 2019. The Carter Center covered all expenses to host at their location. There was a minimum of 100 attendees, which included juvenile court judges, school social workers, DFCS staff, law enforcement and various community stakeholders statewide. The theme of the conference was, Reevaluating the System: Improving Outcomes for All Youth. • Conducted a 29-question survey on counties

63

to determine the standard procedures used for CHINS cases. The survey identified key areas of concern such as, 60% percent detain CHINS youth, 70% place CHINS youth on probation, 80% provide assessments on the child but not on the family, and 40% process CHINS cases through formal court intervention. These are concerns because the intended goal for CHINS is to separate the treatment of CHINS from the delinquency model/process, and to provide an informal process by which youth and families can receive support, services, and reach resolutions to prevent formal court involvement. • Created a CHINS model and flow chart that can be used as a guideline for counties to follow to move towards an informal approach when engaging the CHINS population. Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI): JDAI is a nationwide initiative to help jurisdictions reduce their reliance on secure detention. Georgia's Initiative has completed full system assessments for Glynn, Newton, Rockdale, Chatham, Clayton, and Clarke Counties; Bibb County is slated as the next rollout county for JDAI as the process has been halted due to COVID-19. Although Bibb County has not officially completed the on-boarding process, it is an unofficially recognized JDAI business site.


64

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of Probate Court Judges Executive Director: Kevin Holder georgiacourts.gov/probate/

Mission:

Our Council’s vision is excellence in the administration of justice in every probate court. Our Council’s mission is to advance the common interests of and assist probate courts in fulfilling their responsibilities. Finally, our Council’s guiding principles are to ensure that probate courts fulfill their statutory responsibilities, demonstrate integrity, respect the independence and diversity of each court, function collaboratively, continuously improve service to our constituency and engage all members of the Council. Judge Melanie Bell of Newton County was one of 78 probate judges who was a part of the inaugural class of the traffic certification program.

Leadership: President Judge T.J. Hudson, Treutlen County President-Elect Judge Kelli Wolk, Cobb County First Vice-President Judge Kerri Carter, Dade County Past President Judge Sarah Harris, Macon-Bibb County Secretary-Treasurer Judge Darin McCoy, Evans County

CPCJ Executive Director Kevin Holder and Judge T. J. Hudson in Laurens County on their 159th and final court visit.

Executive Committee meeting held at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in Atlanta, February 2020


COUNCIL OF PROBATE COURT JUDGES

Highlights:

Above: 2020 Probate Judges Day at the Capitol. Below: State representative and former probate judge Mitchell Scoggins enjoying at the luncheon for the 2020 Probate Judges’ Day at the Capitol.

Train the Trainer seminar in Macon.

65

• Re-aligned the Council’s strategic plan. • Completed production of probate video series for self-represented litigants. • Established the annual Mary Cranford award to recognize to exemplary probate courts • Council president Judge T. J. Hudson and Council executive director Kevin Holder visited all 159 probate courts in 37 calendar days. • Inaugural class of 78 probate judges completed the Traffic Certification program. • Council’s executive committee drafted guidance for probate courts in response to COVID-19. • Sponsored DeKalb County Probate Court’s annual Mental Health Symposium • Class of 28 probate judges completed the Probate Certification program. • Hosted the first-ever “Train the Trainer” seminar for probate judges interested in becoming training instructors. • Established subcommittees for the Probate Judges’ Training Council aimed at increasing the quality of training for probate judges and clerks certification programs.


66

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of Magistrate Court Judges Executive Director: Sharon Reiss georgiamagistratecouncil.com

Mission:

Magistrate court, also called small claims court and sometimes the people’s court, is an informal court that handles money claims of less than $15,000. This court offers a quick and inexpensive process to resolve complaints. The Council of Magistrate Court Judges supports community justice by: • Improving the magistrate courts and the administration of justice; • Assisting the chief magistrates, magistrates, and senior magistrates throughout the state in the execution of their duties; and • Training and promoting chief magistrates, magistrates, and senior magistrates. Case type examples include: dispossessory; evictions; four types of criminal misdemeanors; probable cause hearings; setting bond and then binding over to other courts, and some fraud cases.

Every year the Georgia Council of Magistrate Court Councils hosts a legislative day at the State Capitol. This gives the judges an opportunity to interact with legislators and discuss the issues they face in their courts and communities.

Leadership:

President Judge Michael Barker, Chatham County President-Elect Judge T.J. Hudson, Treutlen County Vice-President Judge Bobby Harrison Smith, III Long County Immediate Past President Judge Glenda Dowling, Pierce County Secretary Judge Berryl A. Anderson, DeKalb County Treasurer Judge Jennifer Lewis, Camden County

Highlights:

• The Council hosts bi-annual training for all Magistrate Court Judges and also a dedicated training for Chief Magistrates. Topics include: law changes; ethics; filing; budgeting; staffing; scheduling; administration; IT support; and diversity to improve efficiency and leadership. • The Council continued to work on tutorials and technology tools like the forms generator and web tutorials to improve the citizen experience. • Council judges have won multiple awards for their hard work and dedication to the Council and the Administration of Justice.


67

The Biannual Recertification Training in Jekyll Island, October 2019.

Georgia Magistrate Courts Training Council The Georgia Magistrate Courts Training Council, which was created by statute in 1983, consists of six members and oversees the training and certification of Magistrate Judges. O.C.G.A. § 15-10-130 et seq. The Council, chaired by Judge Betsey Kidwell (Magistrate Court of Heard County) through April 2020 and succeeded by Judge Jennifer Lewis (Magistrate Court of Camden County), met eleven times in FY 2020: • August 21, 2019 – Virtual Meeting • September 18, 2019 – Virtual Meeting • October 6, 2019 – during the biannual recertification training held in Jekyll Island, GA • November 21, 2019 – Virtual Meeting • December 18, 2019 – Virtual Meeting • January 15, 2020 – Virtual Meeting • February 19, 2020 – Virtual Meeting • March 18, 2020 – Virtual Meeting • April 15, 2020 – Virtual Meeting • May 20, 2020 – Virtual Meeting • June 17, 2020 – Virtual Meeting

The Council developed and approved the training curriculum for mandatory annual magistrate training, focusing on several topics including court technology, abandoned mobile homes, mental health in the courts, vicarious trauma, debt collection and self-represented litigants. Reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council decided to cancel all in-person training events held after March 2020 and modified the curriculum of several events to better fit a virtual or recorded format. Finally, the Council issued certification to magistrate court judges meeting the annual training requirement for CY 2019. The Council was assisted by two subcommittees: the Curriculum Committee, which studies and recommends possible training topics to the full Council; and, the Mentor Committee, which oversees the mentoring of new magistrate judges. The Georgia Magistrate Courts Training Council submits this report pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-10-134(e).


68

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Council of Municipal Court Judges (CMuCJ) Trial Court Liaison: LaShawn Murphy georgiacourts.gov/municipal/

Mission:

To set standards and policies, and to provide information and education services to the Municipal Courts of Georgia so they can more efficiently and effectively operate their courts, administer justice, and serve the public.

Guiding Principles:

Leadership: President Judge Dale "Bubba" Samuels Franklin Springs and Monroe President-Elect Chief Judge Willie Weaver Sr., Albany Vice-President Chief Judge Lori Duff, Loganville

• Be an advocate for the Municipal Courts and their Judges.

Secretary Judge JaDawnya Baker, Atlanta

• Provide professional and forward thinking leadership.

Treasurer Judge Ted Echols, Treasurer, McDonough

• Be a reflection of the people we serve.

Immediate President Judge Matthew McCord, Stockbridge

• Encourage public understanding of the judiciary and the courts. • Uphold the Constitution and the law.

Highlights:

• Maintain and enhance Judicial Council relations created in statute per O.C.G.A. § 36-32-40.

•Convened a successful Breakfast and Legislative Day at the Capitol, March 5, 2020. • Focused the Council's attention on adhering to public health requirements to safeguard

CMuCJ Legislative Day at the State Capitol on March 5, 2020.

CMuCJ Executive Committee Meeting on October 3, 2019


COUNCIL OF MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGES

69

the health of litigants, lawyers, judges, court personnel, and the public during the continuing statewide judicial emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Council leadership remained engaged in discussions of the Judicial Council in preparation of moving Georgia’s judiciary forward during these challenging times.

of Lawrenceville; Judge Margaret G. Washburn, Municipal Court of Suwannee; and Judge Thomas Bobbit III, Municipal Court of Soperton. The award is in appreciation of continued contributions to academics and judicial education for municipal court judges throughout the State of Georgia.

• With the gradual expansion of services offered by the Courts, certain directives had to be followed in order to ensure the safety of both the Court staff and the public that come in contact with the Courts. Guidelines and Best Practices were presented by the CMuniCJ in order to help each Court create its own individual policy conducting essential and critical business matters during the COVID-19 recovery.

Special Recognition Award Recipients: • Judge Barbara A. Harris to celebrate her meritorious service and varied contributions. • Judge Dale “Bubba” Samuels for steadfast leadership and tirelessly navigating the council through unprecedented times • Chief Judge Christopher Portis for the Homeless Court Program that assists and supports chronically and episodically homeless individuals.

• Convened its first Annual Business meeting and Awards Ceremony via Zoom, June 20, 2020, which featured the swearing in of the incoming president by Chief Judge Willie Lockett, Superior Court, Dougherty Judicial Circuit.

President's Award Recipients: • Judge Lori Duff, Judge Matt McCord, Judge Rob Cowan, Judge Nathan Wade, and Judge Kristi Lovelace for improving the lives of people in their community and throughout Georgia. • LaShawn Murphy for serving as the council’s conscience and spirit as the council’s handler, muse, confidant, manager, advisor, cheerleader, and friend.

Honors: • The Council recognized a number of municipal court judges with awards. Cheif Judge Rashida Oliver, Municipal Court of East Point, received the Frost Ward Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes a municipal court judge who has made significant contributions to the Council of Municipal Court Judges over a long period of time. • Three judges received the Glen Ashman Educational Achievement Award: Judge Dennis Still, Municipal Court

Chief Judge Willie C. Weaver, Sr. and Judge Bubba Samuels serving on the Judicial Council of Georgia.


70

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

REPORTS FROM APPELLATE COURT AND TRIAL COURT COUNCILS CONTINUED

Georgia Municipal Courts Training Council The Georgia Municipal Courts Training Council, created in statute per O.C.G.A. § 36-32-22, consists of six members and oversees the training and certification of municipal court judges and chief clerks. The Council, chaired by Judge Claude Mason (Municipal Courts of Duluth and Lilburn), met six times in FY 2020:

• August 19, 2019 – Via GoTo Meeting • September 10, 2019 – Gwinnett County Justice & Administration Center

• January 22, 2020 – Via GoTo Meeting • February 24, 2020 – Athens, GA at the ICJE Office

• April 8, 2020 – Via Conference call • May 15, 2020 – Via Zoom, in conjunc-

tion with the CMuCJ Executive Committee

The Council developed and approved a robust training curriculum for mandatory new judges orientation and annual municipal court judges training in advance of cancelling the in-person trainings in CY20 spring and summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Judges were offered the opportunity to participate in eLearning Commons seminars or webinars during this time: Mental Illness, Media Relations, Judging & Humanities and Substance Abuse. The

Council issued certification to municipal court judges meeting the annual training requirement for CY 2019. Per statutory requirement, the Council also oversaw the training and certification of chief municipal court clerks. The training curriculum for chief clerks focused on such topics as Municipal Court Uniform Rules, AOC Resources for Municipal Courts Clerks, Fines and Fees, Ethics for Clerks, Mental Health Issues in the Courts, Legislative Update, Court & Personal Security, and updates from the Department of Driver Services and the Georgia Crime Information Center. The Council issued certification to chief municipal court clerks meeting the annual training requirement for CY 2019.

The Georgia Municipal Courts Training Council submits this report pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 36-32-24

Judge Claude Mason, Chair, Municipal Courts Training Council.


Appendices


72

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Appendix A: Georgia's Judicial Demographics Supreme Court................................... 9 Court of Appeals................................ 15 Superior Court................................ 216 State Court..................................... 129 Juvenile Court................................. 133 Probate Court................................. 172 Magistrate......................................507 Municipal, Civil, and Recorders Courts......................379 TOTAL....................................... 1,560

RACE

WHITE NON-HISPANIC

Supreme Court

Court of Appeals

6

8

1

4

Superior Court 139

47

WHITE HISPANIC AFRICAN-AMERICAN

State Court

Juvenile Court

85

63

23

1 1

1

2

12

17

8

38

1 11

11

Probate Court 79

78

1 19

3

Magistrate Court

240 168 283

10

28

1 7

2

1 9

6

FEMALE

152

1 64

95

1 34

75

58

1 83

89

3

TOTAL

1299 4

65

27

38

1

ASIAN

MALE

38

1

AMERICAN INDIAN OR ALASKA NATIVE

TOTAL

Municipal Court

2

253 1

5

272 236 315

2

17

78

1560


Appendix B : Case Characteristics Superior Court — 2019 Caseload The superior court exercises broad civil and criminal jurisdiction. Superior court judges preside over all felony trials, have exclusive jurisdiction over divorces and may correct errors made by limited jurisdiction courts. Filed Cases: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

Death Penalty

Serious Felony

Felony

8

7,155

88,703

CIVIL

Probation Misdemeanor Revocation 25,000

51,575

TOTAL

General

Domestic

TOTAL

GRAND TOTAL Cases Filed

172,441

55,112

130,362

185,474

357,915

Clearance Rates: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

CIVIL, DOMESTIC RELATIONS

CIVIL, GENERAL

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

172,441

161,378

93.6%

55,112

49,604

85.3%

130,298

111,122

85.3%

Self-Represented Litigants and Limited English Proficiency: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

CIVIL, GENERAL

CIVIL, DOMESTIC RELATIONS

TOTALS

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

5,426

1,844

13,056

970

39,153

1,377

57,635

4,191


74

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

State Court — 2019 Caseload State courts exercise limited jurisdiction within one county. These judges hear misdemeanors including traffic violations, issue search and arrest warrants, hold preliminary hearings in criminal cases, and try civil matters not reserved exclusively for the superior courts. Filed Cases: CRIMINAL

Serious Traffic STATEWIDE TOTALS

Non-Traffic Probation Misdemeanors Revocations

22,594

89,954

31,930

CIVIL

Other Traffic

TOTAL

Landlord Tenant

Other Civil

TOTAL

GRAND TOTAL Cases Filed

422,260

556,738

561

73,353

73,914

640,652

Clearance Rates: CRIMINAL CIVIL NON-TRAFFIC

TRAFFIC

Disposed Clearance Rate

Filed

STATEWIDE TOTALS 121,884 109,056

Filed

89.5%

Disposed Clearance Rate

444,854 415,605

93.4%

Filed 73,914

Disposed Clearance Rate

58,719

Garnishments: GARNISHMENTS

STATEWIDE TOTALS

Open

Filed

Disposed

17,787

11,338

9,700

Self-Represented Litigants and Limited English Proficiency: OVERALL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

187,681

2,525

79.4%


APPENDIX B: CASE CHARACTERISTICS

75

Juvenile Court — 2019 Caseload Juvenile courts handle all cases involving juveniles who are alleged to be delinquent; those who are abused, neglected, or without a parent or guardian; those considered to be children in need of services, guidance, or counseling, including truants, runaways, and ungovernable juveniles; and traffic violations committed by those under the age of 17. The juvenile courts also hear cases involving consent to marriage for minors, enlistment of minors in the military, and emancipation proceedings. Juvenile courts have concurrent jurisdiction with probate courts in permanent guardian­ship proceedings over minors and may also handle legitimation and child support matters arising in pending dependency cases. Original jurisdiction over juveniles 13 to 17 who commit certain violent felonies resides in the superior courts.

Filed Cases:

STATEWIDE TOTALS

Children in Need of Services

Class A Designated Felony

Class B Designated Felony

10,165

1,172

1,030

Delinquency Dependency

Clearance Rates:

STATEWIDE TOTALS

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

60,470

53,526

88.5%

27,267

9,703

Emancipation 18

Special Termination Parental Proceeding of Rights 3,263

1,723

Traffic

Total

6,129

60,470


76

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Probate Court — 2019 Caseload Original jurisdiction in the probate of wills and administration of decedents’ estates is designated to the probate court of each county. Pro­bate judges are also authorized to order involuntary hospitalization of an incapacitated adult or other individual, and to appoint a legal guardian to handle the affairs of certain specified individuals. Probate courts issue marriage licenses and licenses to carry firearms. In counties where no state court exists, pro­bate judges may hear traffic violations, certain misdemeanors, and citations involving the state game and fish laws. Many probate judges are authorized to serve as the county elections supervisor; they also administer oaths of office and make appointments to certain local public offices. Filed Cases: GENERAL PROBATE

Estate STATEWIDE TOTALS

CRIMINAL

Guardianship Guardianship Conservatorship Conservatorship Minor Minor Adult

47,803

7,693

1,629

Trust

Other Filings

TOTAL

Serious Traffic

NonSerious Traffic

Other Criminal

TOTAL

6

5,598

68,392

10,887

202,526

20,025

233,438

Other Mental Health

TOTAL

223

3,549

5,663

MENTAL HEALTH

Involuntary Treatment STATEWIDE TOTALS

Order to Apprehend

815

2,511

Self-Represented Litigants and Limited English Proficiency:

Clearance Rates: GENERAL PROBATE

Filed STATEWIDE 68,392 TOTALS

CRIMINAL

Disposed Clearance Rate 32,333

47.3%

Filed

MENTAL HEALTH

Disposed Clearance Rate

231,473 187,609

81.1%

OVERALL

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

3,549

2,284

64.4%

112,972

514

Administrative Actions: Firearm Application

Firearms Denied

Firearm Revocation

STATEWIDE 188,720 TOTALS

2,854

250

Birth Records

Counties Marriage Served as Death Marriage License Certified Passports Election Records Issued Copies Supervisor

137,882 183,195

65,493

94,900

11,066

24

Number of Precincts

Miscellaneous

TOTAL

171

3184

687,747


77

APPENDIX B: CASE CHARACTERISTICS

Magistrate Court — 2019 Caseload Magistrate courts are county courts that issue warrants, hear minor criminal offenses and civil claims involving amounts of $15,000 or less. A chief magistrate is usually elected in each county; other magistrates may be appointed by the chief magistrate, though some also run for election. Magistrate court is the court of first resort for many civil disputes including: county ordinance violations, dispossessories, landlord/tenant cases, and bad checks. In criminal matters magistrates hold preliminary hearings; issue search warrants to law enforcement and also warrants for the arrest of a particular person. In some criminal matters magistrates are authorized to set bail for defendants. No jury trials are held in magistrate court; civil cases are often argued by the parties themselves, rather than by attorneys. Filed Cases: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

CIVIL

Misdemeanor

Ordinance Violation

TOTAL

Civil Claims

Dispossessory Distress Warrant

Garnishment

Foreclosure Attachment

TOTAL

GRAND TOTAL

13,077

26,733

39,810

218,360

277,482

59,560

23,611

579,013

618,823

Clearance Rates: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

CIVIL

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

39,810

28,362

71.2%

579,013

513,395

88.7%

Self-Represented Litigants and Limited English Proficiency:

Warrants and Hearings: WARRANTS

HEARINGS

OVERALL

Felony Arrest

Misdemeanor

Good Behavior

Search

Warrant Application

First Appearance

Commitment

Good Behavior

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

STATEWIDE TOTALS 13,077

26,733

39,810

218,360

277,482

59,560

23,611

579,013

112,972

514


78

JUDICIAL COUNCIL / ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE OF THE COURTS ANNUAL REPORT FY 2020

Municipal Court — 2019 Caseload Cities in Georgia establish municipal courts to adjudicate traffic offenses; local ordinance/ violation cases (involving building code matters that include illegal dumping, excessive noise, zoning, animal control, and similar cases); conduct preliminary criminal hearings; issue warrants; abate nuisances; and in some cities hear misdemeanor shoplifting, criminal trespass, and possession of marijuana cases. Filed Cases: CRIMINAL

STATEWIDE TOTALS

Serious Traffic

Serious Traffic Other

Misdemeanor Traffic

Misdemeanor Drugs

Misdemeanor Other

Parking Violation

Ordinance

TOTAL

14,642

24,021

875,672

15,594

46,593

18,532

69,637

1,064,691

Foreclosure Attachment

Traffic

TOTAL

0

16,573

23,356

GRAND TOTAL

CIVIL

Civil Claim STATEWIDE TOTALS

3,210

Dispossesory Distress Garnishment Warrant 2,733

840

1,088,047

Clearance Rates: CRIMINAL

Filed STATEWIDE TOTALS 1,064,691

CIVIL

Disposed

Clearance Rate

Filed

Disposed

Clearance Rate

1,019,651

95.8%

23,356

10,626

45.5%

Self-Represented Litigants and Limited English Proficiency: OVERALL

SelfRepresented Litigants

Limited English Proficiency

810,747

8,749


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