The Atlanta Lawyer June/July 2017 - Page 24

L AWYER R EFERRAL I NFORMATION S ERVICE & LRIS REFER CALLS TO Remember, if your firm receives those occasional calls regarding legal issues that you do not handle, refer them to the Lawyer Referral and Information Service. 404-521-0777 expanded our hours to make it more convenient for the public and law en- forcement. We also upgraded court- room technology to make it easier for families to observe court proceedings. Additionally, we completed a pilot proj- ect for electronic filing in dispossessory and small claims actions to simplify the process for litigants. CJ Aten: Prior to becoming a judge, I kept a robust community service cal- endar of events, and it has been ex- tremely important to me to increase court-to-community engagement and educational opportunities during my judicial tenure. In 2013, I created an innovative pro se litigant assistance program, the Smart Justice Series, de- signed to promote public confidence in, 24 June/July 2017 and awareness of, our judicial system. Smart Justice is a free, court-sponsored lecture program that provides gen- eral procedural information to the public. Smart Justice, which airs on Comcast Channel 23 and, has covered elder abuse and exploita- tion, trial procedure, garnishments and residential landlord-tenant disputes among other important legal topics. I also started an annual single-day camp for local middle-and high-school stu- dents. I love visiting the schools and talking about law but for students re- ally interested in the legal profession, a courtroom visit and learning about the law from diverse perspectives and activities, as offered by the Youth Law Camp, leaves an indelible impression and makes it real for kids. CJ Blum: We’ve worked on a number of projects that try and make the Court system easier to navigate. My favorite project is a brochure series we created to educate our litigants on basic court processes before they get to Court. The series covers dispossessory ac- tions, civil cases, family violence, gar- nishments, warrant applications and abandoned motor vehicles. They are all color coded and available in four different languages! CJ Camp: We hold video bond hearings from the courthouse so that the Sheriff’s Office does not have to transport the inmates from the jail to the courthouse. We have also begun using e-warrants when we issue criminal warrants. Our next project will be electronic filing for civil cases. CJ Dallas: There are 3 goals that I have for Clayton County. The first is to work with the other judges in my circuit to assist with accountability courts. Mag- istrate Court is uniquely positioned to be the first source of contact for every individual that comes into the judicial system. As such, we can refer people into the mental health and/or veteran's treatment courts. My second goal is to partner with the school system. I notice that a significant majority of young persons who are still in high school, come into court for a variety of offenses. This suggests to me that they need more attention. I make it a point to visit all of the high schools in this county to establish a connection between our court and the students. The third project is ensuring that Hispanic victims in the county have individuals who speak their language. I have met with Hispanic ministers and we are working on a program that will focus on providing a trained person of Hispanic descent to translate for and provide counseling to our Latino community. CJ Kirk: Since 2015, I have sought to increase the usability of Fulton Magis- trate Court for our litigants. Our Court was selected as a demonstration site for a Civil Justice Initiative project through the National Center for State Courts and the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS). This Project will help us focus on our three High Volume calendars, simpli- fying garnishments, dispossessory and small claims. We are creating Fulton County specific videos and pamphlets and identified stakeholders in each area with whom we will work to improve our implementation. What is your reaction to the fact there are now seven metro-At- lanta Magistrate Courts where the Chief Judge is a woman? CJ Aten: I feel honored to be amongst this phenomenal group of women ser- vant leaders. We meet as often as we can and truly support each other with sound advice, lessons learned, problem- solving and genuine concern for one another’s professional success.