Georgia Courts

40 Years in 40 Days

June 28 - Day Forty

In 1979, four former members of the Judicial Council made suggestions for improvements to the Judicial Council and the judicial system.  Topics ranged from funding, restructuring council membership, planning and goals, court reporting, and Council/AOC services and studies. Read their comments here.

Currently the Judicial Council and Administrative Office of the Courts are working on a strategic plan for FY14, FY15, and FY16 aiming to prioritizing strategic objectives for the Judicial Council, clarifying the role and focus of the AOC, and identifying guiding principles and initiatives.

 

June 27 - Day Thirty-nine

During the 2013 General Assembly Session, both chambers of the General Assembly recognized the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts for our 40 years of service.

HR 143 and SR 165 recognize that “during the past four decades, the Judicial Council and the Administrative Office of the Courts have pursued their mission to ensure consistency in the statewide court system, to improve court operations, and to enhance communication among Georgia's judiciary.”

June 26 - Day Thirty-eight

Communicating in 1973 and in 2013 are vastly different affairs. The advent of the desktop computer, the Internet, and email have drastically altered how information is distributed. Rather than printing and mailing, much of the work of the AOC and Judicial Council is available online at georgiacourts.gov; our newsletters have gone digital; and social media forums like Facebook (Facebook.com/GACourts) and Twitter (Twitter.com/GACourts) allow for instant communication with judges, courts, media, state agencies, and the general public.

 

June 25 - Day Thirty-seven

In October 1973, the AOC began with four staff members. By the end of FY1973 (June 1974), the AOC had grown to 14. Over the years, staff levels have fluctuated based on budget allocations and changing duties.

As we near the end of FY2013, the AOC is staffed by 70 full-time employees, plus several contract workers and summer interns.

 

June 24 - Day Thirty-six

In 1973, the Judicial Council was composed of 11 members, including the president and immediate past president of the State Bar of Georgia.

In 2013, the Judicial Council is composed of 26 members: The Chief Justice, Chair, and Presiding Justice, Vice Chair, of the Supreme Court; the Chief Judge and a Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals; the presidents and president-elects of the trial court councils (Superior, State, Juvenile, Probate, Magistrate, and Municipal); and the ten District Administrative Judges for the Superior Courts.

 

June 21 - Day Thirty-five

Where are we now? In 1973, the Judicial Council was composed of 11 members, including the president and immediate past president of the State Bar of Georgia. 

 

In 2013, the Judicial Council is composed of 26 members:  The Chief Justice, Chair, and Presiding Justice, Vice Chair, of the Supreme Court; the Chief Judge and a Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals; the presidents and president-elects of the trial court councils (Superior, State, Juvenile, Probate, Magistrate, and Municipal); and the ten District Administrative Judges of the Superior Courts.

 

June 20 - Day Thirty-four

The AOC conducts caseload counts each year.  Until just a few years ago, staff from the AOC’s Research Section (now the Office of Research, Planning, and Data Analysis) would travel around the state to help in the manual counting of cases.  Since the introduction of the AOC Portal in recent years, courts and clerks have submitted their caseload electronically.  In 2012, the AOC began offering workshops to explain the methodology of the case count. A companion manual (Georgia Caseload Reporting Guide) was also created to assist those in charge of submitting their caseload electronically.

The Judicial Council Judicial Workload Assessment Committee (JWAC) uses the results of the case count, or caseload, to determine the need for new superior court judgeships.   Once JWAC determines the need, the full Judicial Council votes to recommend which circuits qualify for a new judge. These recommendations are then sent to the General Assembly.

 

June 19 - Day Thirty-three

In 1986, Chief Justice Thomas O. Marshall appointed the Electronic Data Processing Committee of the Judicial Council to plan for and advise the Judicial Branch on all matters related to electronic data processing.  

 

In 2001, the Georgia Courts in the 21st Century published recommendations including statewide electronic filing be made available and that court data should be accessible via the internet. 

 

The Supreme Court of Georgia announced this week that cases must be e-filed beginning on August 1, 2013; meanwhile the Judicial Council’s Statewide Civil E-Filing Steering Committee continues working to bring E-filing to GA's courts.

 

June 18  - Day Thirty-two

The first Board of Court Reporting was appointed May 1, 1974, by the Judicial Council to draw up the rules and regulations for the profession of court reporting and establish procedures for certifying court reporters in Georgia. The Board of Court Reporting was created by the Georgia Court Reporting Act (Ga L. 1974, p. 345) and is staffed by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

 

The Board of Court Reporting meets at least four times a year to accomplish its duties of:

  • Establishing rules and regulations to effectively carry out the provisions of the Georgia Court Reporting Act, O.C.G.A. § 15-14-20;
  • Developing and conducting examinations necessary to measure proficiency among those individuals desiring to practice court reporting in Georgia;
  • Providing a mechanism for continuing education of court reporters certified under the Georgia Court Reporting Act;
  • Recommending improvements to the Judicial Council of Georgia for the establishment of an equitable fee schedule for official court reporters in Georgia;
  • Ensuring the practice of court reporting in the courts of Georgia is an integral part of an effective judicial system.

 

At the close of FY75, there were 244 certified court reporters in Georgia; today there are over 1,100.

 

June 17 - Day Thirty-one

In FY75, the AOC began gathering caseload statistics for Georgia’s courts.  The first caseload reporting was published in the FY76 Annual Report (http://bit.ly/12Tf2MR).   Statistics were gathered for CY73 and FY76 for superior, state, juvenile, and probate courts.

 

In FY76, the superior courts had 146,158 cases filed and 128,902 cases disposed.  The state courts had 285,668 cases filed; 250,862 cases disposed.  Juvenile court saw 30,484 cases filed; 29,691 cases disposed.  Probate court had 116,972 filings and 115,717 dispositions.

 

June 14 - Day Thirty

The AOC and the National Center for State Courts have long been partners in furthering court administration: from participation in groups that are sponsored or staffed through NCSC, providing state data for national research and statistics, and seeking their expertise on how to efficiently run the AOC.

The NCSC has recognized Marla S. Moore (left), AOC Director for her service to court administration. Ms. Mary McQueen, NCSC president, presented Ms. Moore with its Distinguished Service Award on June 13, 2013, for her contributions to court administration.

 

June 13 - Day Twenty-Nine
Each year the Judicial Council recommends the creation of superior court judgeships to the General Assembly. The AOC collects caseload data for all circuits, then studies those circuits who request judgeships.

In 1989, State Rep. Tyrone Brooks sued the state of Georgia (Brooks v. Georgia State Bd. of Elections) challenging the state’s process of electing judges as “denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color."

Judges who were set to be elected while the case was being litigated were carried-over and no new judgeships were filled despite the Judicial Council’s recommendations process and creation of judgeships by the General Assembly. In 1995, the US District Court for the District of Columbia (Georgia v. Reno) upheld Georgia’s system of judicial elections, citing the Judicial Council’s recommendations that are based on the AOC’s detailed studies of population and caseload, as well as the Judicial Nominating Commission's procedures for selecting candidates.
(http://dc.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19950203_0000019.DDC.htm/qx)

In 1995, fourteen superior court vacancies were filled.

 

June 12 - Day Twenty-eight

The Judicial Council has a long history of working to ensure all participants in the court system are heard and treated fairly.

 

• In 1986, the Committee on Child Abuse Protocols was created in response to two Senate Resolutions calling for the Judicial Council to (1) develop and promulgate rules and regulations concerning the handling of court case involving child abuse and (2) the development of court protocols for child sexual abuse cases.

 

• The Gender Bias Commission was created in 1989 to review Georgia’s judicial system for evidence of bias against women. As a

result of its work, the AOC staffed the Gender Equity Committee that was established in 1992.

 

• The Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children (J4C) was created in 1995 and is staffed by the AOC who collect and analyze data, create reports and provide trainings for juvenile court stakeholders.

 

• The Jury Composition Committee, created in 2004, reviewed the practices and procedures of balancing the jury box in Georgia.  In 2012 the Jury Reform Act, creating a state-wide jury pool and ending forced-balancing of jury boxes, was passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal.

 

June 11 - Day Twenty-seven

From their beginnings, the Judicial Council and AOC have reviewed and tracked legislation that affects the judiciary during the General Assembly sessions.   The Judicial Council Policy and Legislative Committee analyzes legislation so members of the Judicial Council can vote to support or not support legislation.

 

For many years, the Legislative Log, a weekly digest of legislation, was published by the AOC.  These days, the AOC’s Governmental and Trial Court Liaison compiles a daily on-line look (http://legislation.georgiacourts.gov/pages/home.jsf) at the work of the General Assembly that affects Georgia’s judges and courts.  After the legislators have gone home and the Governor has signed or vetoed legislation, a final report is compiled: http://w2.georgiacourts.gov/enactedlegislation/

 

June 10 - Day Twenty-six

While many of the Judicial Council and AOC’s mandates and responsibilities have changed throughout the years, the Office of Communications has been a vital point of access for judges, court administrators, clerks, and the general public. The Georgia Courts Journal has been published continuously since 1973; each year, an Annual Report on the Work of the Georgia Courts is produced; the Georgia Courts Directory has been published annually since 1976.

 

June 7 - Day Twenty-Five

The AOC Financial Administration Division provides support to more the just AOC employees. This seldom seen and behind the scenes team supports the Judicial Council, Alternative Dispute Resolution programs, Institute of Continuing Judicial Education, Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, Council of State Court Judges, Council of Magistrate Court Judges, Council of Probate Court Judges, Council of Municipal Court Judges, and the many other Boards, Councils, and Commissions staffed by AOC employees.

During FY 12 this small division processed 5,690 invoices, created 292 purchase orders, and managed 989 deposits on behalf of the many groups they support.

 

June 6 - Day Twenty-Four

The Georgia General Assembly appropriated $2,000,000 to the Judicial Council in FY 1999 for funds to assist victims of family violence with legal matters. This funding has been renewed each year. Impacted by state-wide budget reductions, funding for FY 2014 will be $1,727,498. With these funds, nonprofits provide free civil legal services to approximately 5,100 Georgians each year.

To date, twenty-one different Georgia nonprofits have received grants to assist victims and provide training. The 11-member Judicial Council Committee on Domestic Violence reviews the grant applications once a year and makes the awards. Judge William T. Boyett, Superior Courts, Conasauga Judicial Circuit, chairs the committee.

The AOC staffs the committee meetings, conducts site visits, analyzes the six-month progress reports with detailed demographic information that grantees complete, and negotiates and monitors all grant recipient contacts.

 

June 5 - Day Twenty-Three

For the past several appropriations cycles, the General Assembly has requested that the Court of Appeals convert to the PeopleSoft (now Team Works) state-wide accounting system. Constrained by dwindling fiscal resources and strained human capital, this had become an overwhelming and nearly insurmountable task.

This year the AOC Financial Administration Division began assisting the Court of Appeals in archiving and complying with this legislative request. Weekly meetings between representatives of the AOC, Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, and the State Accounting Office have yielded unprecedented intra-agency cooperation.

 

June 4 - Day Twenty-Two

FY1981 was a year of stark decreases for the AOC, which lost 23% of its budget based on the loss of federal grant money.  Eight staff positions were terminated, its divisions were reorganized, and a reduction of services was necessary.

 

June 3 - Day Twenty-One

FY1981 was the first year in which the Judicial Council worked with the Supreme Court of GA to present a coordinated judicial budget, representing sixteen judicial agencies to the General Assembly.

 

May 31 - Day Twenty

The Judicial Council's Statewide Civil E-Filing Steering Committee is working to bring E-filing to GA's courts.

 

May 30 - Day Nineteen

The AOC purchased Sustain Justice Edition CMS Software for use throughout Georgia.

 

May 29 - Day Eighteen

The Georgia Courts Automation Commission was created in 1991 to develop and maintain sophisticated software programs that automate data collection, storage, retrieval, and distribution in Georgia courts.

 

May 28 - Day Seventeen

In 1984, the National Center for State Courts held the first Court Technology Conference in Chicago, IL.

 

May 27 - Day Sixteen

In FY1977 (July 1, 1976 - June 30, 1977), the AOC studied the feasibility of implementing an automated data system for the courts.

 

May 24 - Day Fifteen

On October 1, 2012, the AOC began its Language Access Pilot Program, funded by a grant from the General Assembly, to offer language interpretation services remotely to courts in rural areas.

 

May 23 - Day Fourteen

Some of the earliest programs and projects staffed by the AOC include Traffic, Juvenile Justice issues, and Court Facilities.

 

May 22 - Day Thirteen

In 1974, the AOC conducted the first circuit court study which lead the Judicial Council to recommend the General Assembly create five new superior court judgeships.

 

May 21 - Day Twelve

In 1989, the Commission on Gender Bias was created by Supreme Court Order. The effects of gender and racial bias in the courts have been studied and reported on throughout the past 25 years.

 

May 20 - Day Eleven

In 1974 the Judicial Council created the Board of Court Reporting to define and regulate the practice of court reporting in Georgia

 

May 17, 2013 - Day Ten
In its 40 years of service, the AOC has been lead by five Directors: James C. Dunlap (1974-1975); Robert L. Doss (1975-1998); George Lange, III (19
99-2001); David L. Ratley (2001 - 2009), and Marla S. Moore (2009-present).

 

May 16, 2013 - Day Nine
Robert L. Doss served as Director of the AOC from 1975 until 1998. In 2005, Mr. Doss was awarded the William Barclay Herndon award by the Georgia Council of Court Administrators to honor his years of service in court administration.

 

May 15, 2013 - Day Eight
On June 12, 1978, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued an order establishing the Judicial Council as its administrative arm.

 

May 14, 2013 - Day Seven

The AOC Director serves in many capacities including leading the Administrative Office of the Courts, serving as secretariat to the Judicial Council, Board of Court Reporting, and the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education as well as representing the state on numerous national organizations.

 

 

 

 

President Jimmy Carter congratulates the Judicial Council/Administrative Office of the Courts on our 40th Anniversary in this April 12 letter.