From Our Friends at Livinglies, Neil Garfield

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/95852/posts/2112751964

How to Use and Oppose Judicial Notice

One of the biggest bluffs used by claimants in foreclosure and eviction proceedings is the request for judicial notice. If unopposed, this results in myths being propagated as facts. Just because a document exists or has been uploaded to SEC.GOV or any other site doesn’t mean the source or the content is credible or reliable.
If I manage to record a deed purporting to transfer title that doesn’t mean that title is transferred nor that my ownership is to be presumed. The same is true if I upload the same fabricated deed to SEC.gov or any other site on the internet.
Judicial notice is erroneously applied as a vehicle for shifting the burden of proof. The basic rule of evidence is simple: the proponent of evidence must prove the truth, credibility and reliability of that evidence, even if it is admitted into evidence. Otherwise the evidence is admitted with zero weight.
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PLEASE FILL OUT AND SUBMIT OUR FREE REGISTRATION FORM WITHOUT ANY OBLIGATION. OUR PRIVACY POLICY IS THAT WE DON’T USE THE FORM EXCEPT TO SPEAK WITH YOU OR PERFORM WORK FOR YOU. THE INFORMATION ON THE FORMS ARE NOT SOLD NOR LICENSED IN ANY MANNER, SHAPE OR FORM. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Get a Consult and TERA (Title & Encumbrances Analysis and & Report) 202-838-6345 or 954-451-1230. The TERA replaces and greatly enhances the former COTA (Chain of Title Analysis, including a one page summary of Title History and Gaps).
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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Most states essentially have the same statute in their laws of evidence, like this one from Florida:

90.202 Matters which may be judicially noticed.A court may take judicial notice of the following matters, to the extent that they are not embraced within s. 90.201:

(1) Special, local, and private acts and resolutions of the Congress of the United States and of the Florida Legislature.

(2) Decisional, constitutional, and public statutory law of every other state, territory, and jurisdiction of the United States.

(3) Contents of the Federal Register.

(4) Laws of foreign nations and of an organization of nations.

(5) Official actions of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the United States and of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(6) Records of any court of this state or of any court of record of the United States or of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(7) Rules of court of any court of this state or of any court of record of the United States or of any other state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

(8) Provisions of all municipal and county charters and charter amendments of this state, provided they are available in printed copies or as certified copies.

(9) Rules promulgated by governmental agencies of this state which are published in the Florida Administrative Code or in bound written copies.

(10) Duly enacted ordinances and resolutions of municipalities and counties located in Florida, provided such ordinances and resolutions are available in printed copies or as certified copies.

(11) Facts that are not subject to dispute because they are generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court. (e.s.)

(12) Facts that are not subject to dispute because they are capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned. (e.s.)

(13) Official seals of governmental agencies and departments of the United States and of any state, territory, or jurisdiction of the United States.

History.s. 1, ch. 76-237; s. 1, ch. 77-77; s. 1, ch. 77-174; ss. 3, 22, ch. 78-361; ss. 1, 2, ch. 78-379.

A quick review of this statute, essentially the same as all others, reveals that it is not intended to be used as proof of contested facts. The fact that a document obviously exists may not be subject to contest unless the objection is that the document was prepared expressly for trial and not as part of whatever transaction is being contested.

Courts often overstep by becoming the lawyer for the claimant in foreclosure or eviction. As an example of the court stepping into the shoes of the claimant, there is the issue of judicial notice. You should research this. Because judicial notice is intended to be used as follows:
  1. For judicial economy — i.e., acceptance of facts that are virtually incontrovertible and not requiring proof. VERSUS your objections to the content of those documents. The requirement of absolute credibility is essential for judicial notice. There is no prejudice to any party by requiring actual proof of the documents and its contents. Judicial economy does not trump the rules of evidence which are designed to ferret out the truth not to assume facts that are untrue or that could easily be untrue because they came from an interested party.
  2. For documents, the only application of the judicial notice doctrine is that the documents exist and are maintained on a completely trusted site and not that what is written on them is true.
  3. In the case of government documents prepared by government with no interest in making any claims or defending any claims but simply in the ordinary course of record keeping, the record is subject to judicial notice and the content is generally presumed to be true unless disproven by the the opposing party.
  4. Judicial notice is completely inappropriate where the documents were prepared by parties with an interest in the outcome of litigation and claims and are not inspected, reviewed or scrutinized as to accuracy.
  5. Verifying facial validity of a document is NOT the same as verifying the statements contained on the document.
  6. For documents the source must be an independent third party source with no interest in the outcome. So if a fabricated assignment of mortgage is recorded in the county records, then the the existence of the document may be judicially noticed without any presumptions of the veracity or sufficiency of the statements contained in the assignment.
  7. Failure to object to the introduction of the document MIGHT be grounds for admission of both the document and its contents. The ability of the opposing party to present evidence that the document had been fabricated and that the statements contained within it are untrue or misleading is not barred by failure to object.
  8. The fact that it is admitted in evidence does not mean that should be given great weight by the trial court. Any evidence submitted by a party who has a direct interest in the outcome of litigation is to be viewed skeptically and requiring corroborative proof.
  9. Judicial notice is NOT appropriate for the PSA or anything else if the request for notice directs the court’s attention to SEC.GOV. This is an effort at misdirection.
  10. SEC.GOV is merely a repository for uploading documents with no more official capacity than box.com or dropbox.com. The fact that a document is there is NOT an indication that the document is an official document. The SEC has not reviewed it or approved it in any way, manner shape or form.
  11. BEST Evidence: Only the original document produced in court would be sufficient evidence of the document’s existence and then only if it was complete and signed — which means that the mortgage loan schedule is attached as the original mortgage loan schedule attached the trust instrument, the prospectus and the servicing agreements when they were originally executed.
  12. It is a common ploy to upload documents to SEC.Gov and then request judicial notice. This is wrong.
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2015 AJC Article About Georgia’s Corrupt Judges. Nothing Has Changed, But They Aren’t Still Going After Judges

A 2015 article, in AJC about Georgia Judges:
http://www.myajc.com/news/local/justice-for-judges-you-have-the-right-remain-silent-your-honor/x4ICZOux5H5B5MVG6LCeaJ/

Justice for judges: You have the right to remain silent, your honor
atlanta-news …
Posted: 1:06 p.m. Wednesday, July 29, 2015


More than five dozen Georgia judges have stepped down from the bench in disgrace since the state’s judicial watchdog agency began aggressively policing ethical conduct eight years ago.

More lately, however, the jurists aren’t just leaving the court in disgrace. Some are leaving in handcuffs.

Earlier this month, former North Georgia magistrate Bryant Cochran was sentenced to five years in prison by a federal judge who said Cochran had destroyed the public’s faith in the judiciary. In June, a one-time influential chief judge from Brunswick was indicted by a Fulton County grand jury. And a specially appointed district attorney is now considering similar charges against a former DeKalb judge.

These criminal prosecutions were brought after the state Judicial Qualifications Commission launched investigations of the judges. Instead of being allowed to step down from the bench and return to a law practice, these judges are hiring criminal defense lawyers.

“I don’t remember seeing anything like this — so many judges facing criminal prosecution,” said Norman Fletcher, former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. “I do think it puts a black cloud over the judiciary.”

Cochran, a Murray County magistrate for eight years, was convicted of orchestrating a plot to plant drugs on a woman shortly after she publicly accused him of propositioning her in his chambers.
Related
Photos: Georgia judges booted from the bench
Photos: Georgia judges booted from the bench

When Angela Garmley, of Chatsworth, appeared before Cochran in April 2012 on a routine legal matter, Cochran said he’d grant her a favorable ruling in exchange for sex, prosecutors said.

Garmley previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Cochran told her he wanted a mistress he could trust and asked her to return to the courthouse the next day wearing a dress with no underwear.

Instead, Garmley went public. Days later, she was arrested after a traffic stop in which police claimed to have found a container of methamphetamine stuck to the bottom of her vehicle. The charges against her were soon dismissed, and a subsequent GBI and FBI investigation led to the case against Cochran.

All told, the magistrate was convicted of six counts, including one that he sexually assaulted a county employee over a six-year period.

“Cochran used the power of the bench to victimize a citizen seeking justice and to exploit his staff,” U.S. Attorney John Horn said. “There is no greater breakdown in the justice system than when the judge himself violates other citizens’ rights to simply advantage himself.”

‘I actually hoped that I would die’

Just weeks before Cochran was sentenced to prison, a Fulton grand jury indicted former Chief Judge Amanda Williams from the Brunswick Judicial Circuit on two felony counts. She is charged with giving a false statement to the Judicial Qualifications Commission and violating her oath of office.

In 2012, Williams resigned from the bench after being accused of running her courtroom under tyrannical rule and indefinitely locking up drug court offenders. One defendant, Lindsey Dills, was sentenced by Williams in 2008 to indefinite detention in solitary confinement with no outside contact

Dills, previously flagged as a suicide risk, slit her wrists after 61 days in detention.

She survived, saying later on the “This American Life” radio program, “I actually hoped that I would die. But at the point that I figured then, well if I die, great. If I don’t, at least someone will freakin’ hear me.”

The Fulton indictment alleges Williams made a false statement when she told the judicial watchdog agency she gave no direction to the sheriff’s office regarding Dills’ incarceration.

Williams’ lawyers declined to comment on the charges.

Investigation continues into DeKalb judge

Meanwhile, another state prosecutor is considering similar charges against former DeKalb Superior Court judge Cynthia Becker.

Becker stepped down in March after the commission launched an investigation into her handling of the high-profile corruption case against former Schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis.

Shortly before trial, Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor obstruction charge. Prosecutors agreed to recommend Lewis be sentenced to 12 months on probation if he provided truthful testimony against Pat Reid, the school district’s former chief operating officer, and Reid’s ex-husband, architect Tony Pope.

Reid and Pope were convicted, but Becker found that Lewis had not been truthful in his testimony. She declined to honor the probation deal, saying she intended to sentence Lewis to a year behind bars for his “abhorrent” behavior and for “the words I heard out of his mouth when he testified.”

Over the next few days, Lewis’ lawyer, Mike Brown, filed a flurry of motions. He asked Becker to reconsider her decision. He asked her to grant Lewis a bond so he could be out of jail until she presided over a hearing the following week.

Becker refused all such requests and said she’d take up the matter when she returned from a trip out of town to attend the Army-Navy game.

‘He never asked for bond’

Becker’s problems stem from her Sept. 8, 2014, appearance before the Judicial Qualifications Commission at the Marietta law office of commission member Robert Ingram.

Right off the bat, members asked Becker about her handling of Lewis’s case. Becker initially responded that she came prepared to talk about a complaint lodged by a woman who said Becker had been rude, not the Lewis case. Even so, she agreed to answer questions about what happened in the days after she sentenced Lewis to one year in prison.

It wasn’t long before Becker gave the commission incorrect information.

“He didn’t ask for bond,” Becker said at one point, referring to Lewis. “Not to me. He never asked for bond. … No one presented me a bond.”

Court records, however, show that Becker knew about Lewis’ request for bond. During an exchange of emails on Dec. 11, 2013, Becker told parties she would not consider the bond until she returned to town the following week.

In March, the judicial watchdog commission filed ethics charges against Becker, including an allegation that she made a false statement when she told the panel Lewis had not asked for a bond. If the commission finds against Becker, it could bar her from serving as a senior judge.

Because Becker made those statements in Marietta, the Cobb District Attorney’s Office has jurisdiction over the case. But Cobb DA Vic Reynolds recused himself, leading to the appointment of Parks White, the district attorney for the Northern Judicial Circuit.

If White obtains an indictment against Becker for making false statements about the bond, he will have to convince a jury she did so willfully and intentionally, not that she was mistaken because she had been caught off guard.

White declined to say what he plans to do.

Becker’s attorney, Brian Steel, said his client did nothing wrong. “She’s a wonderful person, an honorable judge and she committed no crime whatsoever,” he said.


Robes gallery

Over the past decade, dozens of Georgia judges have resigned from the bench. Most have been allowed to retire to spend more time with their families, resume a law practice or, in one case, successfully run for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Here are some of the judges who have had to step down from the bench in the face of ethics or criminal investigations:

Paschal English

Chief Judge Paschal English of the Griffin Judicial Circuit made a name for himself in 2002 as the beloved “Pappy,” one of the final four “Survivor: Marquesas” castaways on the CBS TV show. Eight years later, English abruptly resigned amid revelations he was having an affair with an assistant public defender who had cases before him. During an investigation, it was disclosed that a sheriff’s deputy had caught the two having sex in a parked car.

Johnnie Caldwell Jr.

Caldwell had served as the Griffin Judicial Circuit’s district attorney for 13 years when then-Gov. Zell Miller appointed him to the Superior Court. In 2010, Caldwell stepped down after accusations that he made rude, sexually suggestive comments to a female attorney. Two years later, Caldwell won the Republican primary and ran unopposed in the general election to win the District 131 seat in the state House.

Frank R. Cox

After serving 14 years as Cobb County’s chief magistrate, Cox resigned early this year citing undisclosed heath issues. At the time, Cox was under investigation concerning complaints about his judicial temperament and how he treated people in his courtroom. During a hearing last December, for example, Cox aggressively questioned an alleged victim of domestic abuse about her heritage and why she wasn’t married to a man with whom she had four children.

Kenneth Nix

Kenneth Nix served a decade in the state House before becoming a judge in Cobb County. In 2010, Nix was the chief judge of Cobb’s Superior Court when he abruptly announced his resignation. He admitted he had “flicked” the bottoms of a prosecutor and investigator after they sat in his lap posing for a photo. The two women countered with a public statement that it was a “sex crime,” not a playful touch. Nix died of pancreatic cancer in 2012.

Shirley Wise

The state Judicial Qualifications Commission referred its initial investigative findings about Wise, the Camden County probate judge, to the state attorney general’s office, which then appointed a district attorney to prosecute her. In 2012, Wise pleaded guilt to the theft of vital records fees and to a kickback scheme involving a county services contract. She was sentenced under the First Offender Act to seven years probation, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $5,500 in restitution. She also agreed not to seek or accept appointment to public office.

William F. Lee Jr.

Lee, of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, was one of Georgia’s longest-serving Superior Court judges when he stepped down in 2012. Lee, who served 37 years, said at the time he was leaving office on his own terms. But he was facing an ethics investigation for cutting a deal for a convicted sex offender without notifying the victim or the prosecution.

David Barrett

In 2012, David Barrett, then chief judge of the Enotah Judicial Circuit, made national news when he pulled out a handgun in his courtroom. He had pretended to offer his pistol to an uncooperative witness, saying if she wanted to kill her lawyer she could use his gun. Barrett may have been making a rhetorical point, but he soon resigned in the face of an investigation.

Jack Camp

In October 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Camp was arrested in an undercover sting when he showed up, armed with two handguns, with an exotic dancer to buy drugs. He had been paying her for sex and together they began using marijuana, cocaine and a synthetic form of heroin. Camp, appointed to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, pleaded guilty to federal charges and was sentenced to 30 days in prison. Before he was sentenced, Camp revealed that he had long suffered from a misdiagnosed bipolar disorder and brain damage from a bicycling accident more than a decade earlier.

Douglas Pullen

Douglas Pullen was the district attorney in Columbus before being appointed in 1995 to the Superior Court for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. In 2011, Pullen stepped down and agreed never to seek judicial office again shortly after a special prosecutor began investigating allegations that a Chattahoochee circuit judge tipped off targets of an undercover FBI operation. Pullen later changed his mind and tried to revoke his agreement with the Judicial Qualifications Commission not to seek judicial office again, but in February the state Supreme Court rejected Pullen’s bid to do so.

Scott Bernstein’s “The Clinton Body Bag Count”


The Clinton Body Bag Count
Jan 29, 2016

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/clinton-body-bag-count-scott-bernstein

Those too young to remember, a reminder of the Clinton history and the list of strange deaths of people close to Bill and Hillary. The country does not need to start on this road again with the election of Hillary.

What an amazing list of mere coincidences…..Purely coincidental? THE CLINTON BODY BAGS.

Food for Thought… Just a quick refresher course lest we forget what has happened to many “friends” of the Clintons.

1- James McDougal – Clintons convicted Whitewater partner died of an apparent heart attack, while in solitary confinement. He was a key witness in Ken Starr’s investigation.

2 – Mary Mahoney – A former White House intern was murdered July 1997 at a Starbucks Coffee Shop in Georgetown. The murder happened just after she was to go public with her story of sexual harassment in the White House.

3 – Vince Foster – Former White House councilor, and colleague of Hillary Clinton at Little Rock’s Rose Law firm. Died of a gunshot wound to the head, ruled a suicide.

4 – Ron Brown – Secretary of Commerce and former DNC Chairman. Reported to have died by impact in a plane crash. A pathologist close to the investigation reported that there was a hole in the top of Brown’s skull resembling a gunshot wound. At the time of his death Brown was being investigated, and spoke publicly of his willingness to cut a deal with prosecutors. The rest of the people on the plane also died. A few days later the air Traffic controller commited suicide.

5 – C. Victor Raiser, II – Raiser, a major player in the Clinton fund raising organization died in a private plane crash in July 1992.

6 – Paul Tulley – Democratic National Committee Political Director found dead in a hotel room in Little Rock, September 1992. Described by Clinton as a “dear friend and trusted advisor”.

7 – Ed Willey – Clinton fundraiser, found dead November 1993 deep in the woods in VA of a gunshot wound to the head. Ruled a suicide. Ed Willey died on the same day his wife Kathleen Willey claimed Bill Clinton groped her in the oval office in the White House. Ed Willey was involved in several Clinton fund raising events.

8 – Jerry Parks – Head of Clinton’s gubernatorial security team in Little Rock. Gunned down in his car at a deserted intersection outside Little Rock. Park’s son said his father was building a dossier on Clinton. He allegedly threatened to reveal this information. After he died the files were mysteriously removed from his house.

9 – James Bunch – Died from a gunshot suicide. It was reported that he had a “Black Book” of people which contained names of influential people who visited prostitutes in Texas and Arkansas.

10 – James Wilson – Was found dead in May 1993 from an apparent hanging suicide. He was reported to have ties to Whitewater.

11 – Kathy Ferguson – Ex-wife of Arkansas Trooper Danny Ferguson, was found dead in May 1994, in her living room with a gunshot to her head. It was ruled a suicide even though there were several packed suitcases, as if she were going somewhere. Danny Ferguson was a co-defendant along with Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones lawsuit Kathy Ferguson was a possible corroborating witness for Paula Jones.

12 – Bill Shelton – Arkansas State Trooper and fiancee of Kathy Ferguson. Critical of the suicide ruling of his fiancee, he was found dead in June, 1994 of a gunshot wound also ruled a suicide at the grave site of his fiancee.

13 – Gandy Baugh – Attorney for Clinton’s friend Dan Lassater, died by jumping out a window of a tall building January, 1994. His client was a convicted drug distributor.

14 – Florence Martin – Accountant & sub-contractor for the CIA, was related to the Barry Seal, Mena, Arkansas, airport drug smuggling case. He died of three gunshot wounds.

15 – Suzanne Coleman – Reportedly had an affair with Clinton when he was Arkansas Attorney General. Died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, ruled a suicide. Was pregnant at the time of her death.

16 – Paula Grober – Clinton’s speech interpreter for the deaf from 1978 until her death December 9, 1992. She died in a one car accident.

17 – Danny Casolaro -Investigative reporter. Investigating Mena Airport and Arkansas Development Finance Authority. He slit his wrists, apparently, in the middle of his investigation.

18 – Paul Wilcher – Attorney investigating corruption at Mena Airport with Casolaro and the 1980 “October Surprise” was found dead on a toilet June 22, 1993, in his Washington DC apartment. Had delivered a report to Janet Reno 3 weeks before his death.

19 – Jon Parnell Walker – Whitewater investigator for Resolution Trust Corp. Jumped to his death from his Arlington, Virginia apartment balcony August 15, 1993. He was investigating the Morgan Guaranty scandal.

20 – Barbara Wise – Commerce Department staffer. Worked closely with Ron Brown and John Huang. Cause of death unknown. Died November 29, 1996. Her bruised, nude body was found locked in her office at the Department of Commerce.

21 – Charles Meissner – Assistant Secretary of Commerce who gave John Huang special security clearance, died shortly thereafter in a small plane crash.

22 – Dr. Stanley Heard – Chairman of the National Chiropractic Health Care Advisory Committee died with his attorney Steve Dickson in a small plane crash. Dr. Heard, in addition to serving on Clinton’s advisory council personally treated Clinton’s mother, stepfather and brother.

23 – Barry Seal – Drug running TWA pilot out of Mena Arkansas, death was no accident.

24 – Johnny Lawhorn, Jr. – Mechanic, found a check made out to Bill Clinton in the trunk of a car left at his repair shop. He was found dead after his car had hit a utility pole.

25 – Stanley Huggins – Investigated Madison Guaranty. His death was a purported suicide and his report was never released.

26 – Hershell Friday – Attorney and Clinton fundraiser died March 1, 1994, when his plane exploded.

27 – Kevin Ives & Don Henry – Known as “The boys on the track” case. Reports say the boys may have stumbled upon the Mena Arkansas airport drug operation. A controversial case, the initial report of death said, due to falling asleep on railroad tracks. Later reports claim the 2 boys had been slain before being placed on the tracks. Many linked to the case died before their testimony could come before a Grand Jury. THE FOLLOWING PERSONS HAD INFORMATION ON THE IVES/HENRY CASE:

28 – Keith Coney – Died when his motorcycle slammed into the back of a truck, July, 1988.

29 – Keith McMaskle – Died, stabbed 113 times, Nov, 1988

30 – Gregory Collins – Died from a gunshot wound Jan, 1989.

31 – Jeff Rhodes – He was shot, mutilated and found burned in a trash dump in April 1989.

32 – James Milan – Found decapitated. However, the Coroner ruled his death was due to natural causes”.

33 – Jordan Kettleson – Was found shot to death in the front seat of his pickup truck in June 1990.

34 – Richard Winters – A suspect in the Ives/Henry deaths. He was killed in a set-up robbery July 1989.

THE FOLLOWING CLINTON BODYGUARDS ARE DEAD

36 – Major William S. Barkley, Jr.

37 – Captain Scott J . Reynolds

38 – Sgt. Brian Hanley

39 – Sgt. Tim Sabel

40 – Major General William Robertson

41 – Col. William Densberger

42 – Col. Robert Kelly

43 – Spec. Gary Rhodes

44 – Steve Willis

45 – Robert Williams

46 – Conway LeBleu

47 – Todd McKeehan

Quite an impressive list! Pass this on. Let the public become aware of what happens to friends of the Clintons! It’s a dangerous affiliation.

2016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA January 27, 2016, 11 a.m. House Chambers, State Capitol

016 STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS
THE HONORABLE CHIEF JUSTICE HUGH P. THOMPSON
SUPREME COURT OF GEORGIA
January 27, 2016, 11 a.m.
House Chambers, State Capitol

Lt. Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston, President Pro Tem Shafer, Speaker Pro Tem Jones, members of the General Assembly, my fellow judges and my fellow Georgians:
Good morning. Thank you for this annual tradition of inviting the Chief Justice to report on the State of Georgia’s Judiciary. Thanks in large part to your support and the support of our governor, as we move into 2016, I am pleased to tell you that your judicial branch of government is not only steady and secure, it is dynamic; it has momentum; and it is moving forward into the 21st century with a vitality and a commitment to meeting the inevitable changes before us.
Our mission remains the same: To protect individual rights and liberties, to uphold and interpret the rule of law, and to provide a forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes that is fair, impartial, and accessible to all.
Our judges are committed to these principles. Each day, throughout this state, they put on their black robes; they take their seat on the courtroom bench; and they work tirelessly to ensure that all citizens who come before them get justice.


Our Judicial Council is the policy-making body of the state’s judicial branch. It is made up of competent, committed leaders elected by their fellow judges and representing all classes of court. They are assisted by an Administrative Office of the Courts, which is under a new director – Cynthia Clanton – and has a renewed focus as an agency that serves judges and courts throughout Georgia.
A number of our judges have made the trip to be here today. Our judges are here today because the relationship we have with you is important. We share with you the same goal of serving the citizens of this great state. We could not do our work without your help and that of our governor.
On behalf of all of the judges, let me say we are extremely grateful to you members of the General Assembly for your judicial compensation appropriation last year.


Today I want to talk to you about Georgia’s 21st century courts – our vision for the future, the road we must travel to get there, and the accomplishments we have already achieved.
It has been said that, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
Since a new state Constitution took effect in 1983, our population has nearly doubled to a little over 10 million, making us the 8th most populous state in the country. We are among the fastest growing states in the nation, and in less than four years, our population is projected to exceed 12 million.
Because it is good for our economy, we welcome that growth. Today, Georgia ranks
among states with the highest number of Fortune 500 companies, 20 of which have their global headquarters here; we have 72 four-year colleges and universities; we have the world’s busiest airport and we have two deep-water ports. Georgia is a gateway to the South, and for a growing number of people and businesses from around the world, it is a gateway to this country.
All of this growth produces litigation – increasingly complex litigation – and just as our state must prepare for this growth by ensuring we have enough roads and modes of transportation, enough doctors and hospitals, and enough power to reach people throughout the state, our courts also must be equipped and modernized for the 21st
century.
While our population has nearly doubled since 1983, the number of Georgia judges has
grown only 16 percent. We must work together to ensure that our judicial system has enough judges, staff and resources in the 21st century to fulfill the mission and constitutional duties our forefathers assigned to us.
A healthy, vibrant judiciary is absolutely critical to the economic development of our state. Thanks to many leaders in the judiciary, as well as to our partnership with the governor and to you in the legislature, we are well on our way to building a court system for the 21st century.


This time next year, with your support, we will have put into place an historic shift in the types of cases handled by the Georgia Supreme Court – the highest court in the state – and by the Court of Appeals – our intermediate appellate court. Thanks to Governor Deal’s Georgia Appellate Jurisdiction Review Commission, this realignment will bring the Supreme Court of Georgia in line with other state Supreme Courts, which handle only the most critical cases that potentially change the law. Serving on the Commission are two of my colleagues – Justice David Nahmias and Justice Keith Blackwell – as well as two judges from the Court of Appeals – Chief
Judge Sara Doyle and Judge Stephen Dillard.
I thank you, Justices and Judges, for your leadership.
Under the Georgia Constitution, Supreme Court justices collectively decide every case that comes before us. Currently the state’s highest court hears divorce and alimony cases; we hear cases involving wills; we hear cases involving titles to land; and we hear disputes over boundary lines.
But the Governor’s Commission, and a number of reports by other commissions and
committees issued since 1983, have recommended that such cases should be heard by our intermediate appeals court, not by our highest court.
Both of our courts are among the busiest in the nation. But unlike the Supreme Court, which sits as a full court with all seven justices participating in, and deciding, every case, the Court of Appeals sits in panels of three. With your approval last year of three new Court of Appeals judges, that court will now have five panels, so it will have the capacity to consider five times as many cases as the Supreme Court.
Modernization of the Supreme Court makes sense. In a 19th century court system, when
most of the wealth was tied up in land, maybe title to land cases were the most important. Maybe they had the greatest implications for the public at large. But as we move into the 21st century, that is no longer true.
In answer to questions such as who owns a strip of land, what does a will mean, and who should prevail in a divorce settlement or an alimony dispute, most judicial systems believe that three judges are enough to provide the parties with a full and fair consideration of their appeal. It no longer makes sense to have seven – or nine – justices collectively review these types of cases.
There is no doubt these cases will be in good hands with the Court of Appeals.
Let me emphasize that all these cases the Commission recommended shifting to the Court of Appeals are critically important to the parties involved.
Let me also emphasize that the purpose of this historic change is not to lessen the burden on the Supreme Court. Rather, the intent is to free up the state’s highest court to devote more time and energy to the most complex and the most difficult cases that have the greatest implications for the law and society at large.
We will therefore retain jurisdiction of constitutional challenges to the laws you enact, questions from the federal courts seeking authoritative rulings on Georgia law, election contests, murder and death penalty cases, and cases in which the Court of Appeals judges are equally divided.
Significantly, we want to be able to accept more of what we call “certiorari” cases
which are appeals of decisions by the Court of Appeals. The number of petitions filed in this category during the first quarter of the new docket year is nearly 14 percent higher this year over last. Yet due to the amount of appeals the law now requires us to take, we have had to reject the majority of the petitions for certiorari that we receive.
These cases are often the most complex – and the most consequential. They involve
issues of great importance to the legal system and the State as a whole. Or they involve an area of law that has become inconsistent and needs clarification.
Businesses and citizens need to know what the law allows them to do and what it does
not allow them to do. It is our job at the highest court to reduce any uncertainty and bring consistency and clarity to the law.
Under the Commission’s recommendations, our 21st century Georgia Supreme Court will
be able to accept more of these important appeals.


As we move into the 21st century, plans are being discussed to build the first state Judicial Building in Georgia’s history that will be dedicated solely to the judiciary. We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership on this. The building that now houses the state’s highest court and the Court of Appeals was built in 1954 when Herman Tallmadge was governor. Back then, it made sense to combine the state judicial branch with part of the executive branch, by locating the Law Department in the same building.
But the world has changed since 1954, and the building we now occupy was not designed with visitors in mind. It was not designed with technology in mind. And it surely was not designed with security in mind. Indeed, it was designed to interconnect with neighboring buildings that housed other branches of government.
A proper Judicial Building is about more than bricks and mortar. Outside, this building will symbolize for generations to come the place where people will go to get final resolution of civil wrongs and injustices; where the government will go to safeguard its prosecution of criminals; and where defendants will go to appeal convictions and sentences to prison for life.
Inside such a building, the courtroom will reinforce the reality that what goes on here is serious and solemn; it is a place of great purpose, in the words of a federal judge. The parties and the lawyers will understand they are all on equal footing, because they are equal under the law.
There is a majesty about the law that gets played out in the courtroom. It is a hallowed place because it is where the truth must be told and where justice is born. The courtroom represents our democracy at its very best.
No, this building is not just about bricks and mortar. Rather it is a place that will house Georgia’s highest court where fairness, impartiality, and justice will reign for future generations.


We are no longer living in a 1950s Georgia. The courts of the 21st century must be
equipped to handle an increasingly diverse population. Living today in metropolitan Atlanta alone are more than 700,000 people who were born outside the United States. According to the Chamber of Commerce, today some 70 countries have a presence in Atlanta, in the form of a consulate or trade office. We must be ready to help resolve the disputes of international businesses that are increasingly locating in our state and capital. Our 21st century courts must be open, transparent and accessible to all. Our citizens’ confidence in their judicial system depends on it. We must be armed with qualified, certified interpreters, promote arbitration as an alternative to costly, courtroom-bound litigation, ensure that all those who cannot afford lawyers have an avenue toward justice, and be constantly updating technology with the aim of improving our courts’ efficiency while saving literally millions of dollars. For all of this, we need your help.


When I first became a judge, we had no email, no cell phones, no Internet. People didn’t Twitter or text, or post things on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram. The most modern equipment we had was a mimeograph machine.
This past year, by Supreme Court order, we created for the first time a governance
structure to bring our use of technology into the 21st century. Chaired by my colleague Justice Harold Melton, and co-chaired by Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson, this permanent Judicial Council Standing Committee on Technology will lead the judicial branch by providing guidance and oversight of its technology initiatives.
Our courts on their own are rapidly moving away from paper documents into the digital age. At the Supreme Court, lawyers must now electronically file all cases. This past year, we successfully launched the next phase by working with trial courts to begin transmitting their entire court record to us electronically. The Court of Appeals also now requires the e-filing of applications to appeal, and this year, will join the Supreme Court in accepting electronic trial records.

Our goal is to develop a uniform statewide electronic filing and retrieval system so that lawyers and others throughout the judiciary can file and access data the easiest way possible.
Using a single portal, attorneys will be able to file documents with trial courts and appellate courts – and retrieve them from any court in the state. This is the system advocated by our partner, President Bob Kaufman of the State Bar of Georgia, and by attorneys throughout the state.
Such a system will not only make our courts more efficient at huge savings, but it will make Georgia safer. When our trial judges conduct bond hearings, for example, they often lack critical information about the person before them. They usually have reports about any former convictions, but they may not have information about cases pending against the defendant in other courts. The technology exists now to ensure that they do.
Also on the horizon is the expanded use of videoconferencing – another electronic
improvement that will save money and protect citizens’ lives. After a conviction and sentence to prison, post-trial hearings require courts to send security teams to pick up the prisoner and bring him to court. Without encroaching on the constitutional right of confrontation, we could videoconference the inmate’s testimony from his prison cell. Again, the technology already exists.
Our Committee on Technology will be at the forefront of guiding our courts into the 21st century.


As Georgia grows, it grows more diverse.
Our Georgia courts are required by the federal government to provide language services free of charge to litigants and witnesses, not only in criminal cases but in civil cases as well.
Even for fluent English speakers, the judicial system can be confusing and unwelcoming.
My vision for Georgia’s judiciary in the 21st century is that every court, in every city and every county in Georgia, will have the capacity of serving all litigants, speaking any language, regardless of national origin, from the moment they enter the courthouse until the moment they leave. That means that on court websites, signs and forms will be available in multiple languages, that all court staff will have the tools they need to assist any customers, and that court proceedings will have instant access to the interpreters of the languages they need.
Chief Magistrate Kristina Blum of the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court has been
working hard to ensure access to justice for all those who come to her court, most of whom are representing themselves.
Recently her court created brochures that provide guidance for civil trials, family
violence matters, warrant applications, garnishments, and landlord-tenant disputes. These brochures provide basic information about each proceeding – what to expect and how best to present their case in court.
Judge Blum, who is in line to be president of the Council of Magistrate Judges and is a member of our Judicial Council, has had the brochures translated into Spanish, Korean and Vietnamese. Such non-legalese forms and tutorial videos that our citizens can understand go a long way toward building trust in the judicial system, and in our entire government.
The Supreme Court Commission on Interpreters, chaired by Justice Keith Blackwell, is
making significant strides in ensuring that our courts uphold the standards of due process. With the help of Commission member Jana Edmondson-Cooper, an energetic attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program, the Commission is working around the state to educate judges,court administrators and lawyers on the judiciary’s responsibilities in providing language assistance.
The essence of due process is the opportunity to be heard. Our justice system is the envy of other countries because it is open and fair to everyone seeking justice. By helping those who have not yet mastered English, we reinforce the message that the doors to the best justice system in the world are open to everyone.
Our law demands it. Our Constitution demands it.


The courts of the 21st century will symbolize a new era. A turning point in our history occurred when we realized there was a smarter way to handle criminals.
Six years ago, my colleague and then Chief Justice Carol Hunstein accompanied
Representative Wendell Willard to Alabama to explore how that state was reforming its criminal justice system. Back in Georgia, Governor Deal seized the reins, brought together the three branches of government, and through extraordinary leadership, has made criminal justice reform a reality. Georgia is now a model for the nation.
Today, following an explosive growth in our prison population that doubled between
1990 and 2011 and caused corrections costs to top one billion dollars a year, last year our prison population was the lowest it has been in 10 years. Our recidivism rate is the lowest it’s been in three decades. And we have turned back the tide of rising costs.
For the last five years, the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform – created by the governor and your legislation – has been busy transforming our criminal justice system into one that does a better job of protecting public safety while holding non-violent offenders accountable and saving millions in taxpayer dollars. I am extremely grateful to this Council and commend the steady leadership of co-chairs Judge Michael Boggs of the Court of Appeals and Thomas Worthy of the State Bar of Georgia.
Throughout this historic reform, Georgia’s trial court judges have been in the trenches.
Our number one goal in criminal justice reform is to better protect the safety of our citizens.
Central to that goal is the development of our specialty courts – what some call accountability courts.
These courts have a proven track record of reducing recidivism rates and keeping our
citizens safe. Nationwide, 75 percent of drug court graduates remain free of arrest two years after completing the program, and the most conservative analyses show that drug courts reduce crime as much as 45 percent more than other sentencing options. Last year, these courts helped save Georgia more than $51 million in prison costs.
From the beginning, you in the legislature have steadfastly supported the growth in these courts, most recently appropriating more than $19 million for the current fiscal year.
Georgia now has 131 of these courts, which include drug courts, DUI courts, juvenile and adult mental health courts, and veterans courts. Today, only two judicial circuits in the state do not yet have a specialty court, and both are in the early stages of discussing the possibility of starting one. In addition to those already involved, last year alone, we added nearly 3500 new participants to these courts.
Behind that number are individual tales of lives changed and in some cases, lives saved.
Our judges, who see so much failure, take pride in these success stories. And so should you.

Chief Judge Richard Slaby of the Richmond County State Court, speaks with great pride of Judge David Watkins and the specialty courts that have grown under Judge Watkins’ direction. Today the recidivism rate among the Augusta participants is less than 10 percent.
The judges who run these courts are committed and deserve our thanks. We are grateful to leaders like Judge Slaby, who is President-Elect of the Council of State Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council; to Judge Stephen Goss of the Dougherty Superior Court, whose mental health court has been recognized as one of the best mental health courts in our country; to Chief Judge Brenda Weaver, President of the Council of Superior Court Judges and a member of our Judicial Council. Judge Weaver of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit serves on the Council of
Accountability Court Judges of Georgia, which you created last year by statute. Its purpose is to improve the quality of our specialty courts through proven standards and practices, and it is chaired by Superior Court Judge Jason Deal of Hall County. Judge Deal’s dedication to the specialty court model in his community, and his guidance and encouragement to programs throughout the state, are described as invaluable by those who work with him.


We may not have a unified court system in Georgia. But we have judges unified in their commitment to our courts. Among our one thousand four hundred and fifty judges, Georgia has many fine leaders. I’ve told you about a number of them today. In closing, I want to mention two more.
When the United States Supreme Court issued its historic decision last year on same-sex marriage, our Council of Probate Court Judges led the way toward compliance. Three months before the ruling was issued, the judges met privately at the behest of the Council’s then president, Judge Chase Daughtrey of Cook County, and his successor, Judge Don Wilkes of Emanuel County. Together, they determined that regardless of what the Supreme Court decided, they would follow the law. Both Governor Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens also publicly announced they would respect the court’s decision, despite tremendous pressure to do otherwise.
These men are all great leaders who spared our state the turmoil other states endured. The bottom line is this: In Georgia, we may like the law, we may not like the law, but we follow the law.


The day-to-day business of the Georgia courts rarely makes the news. Rather judges,
their staff and clerks spend their days devoted to understanding the law, tediously pushing cases through to resolution, committed to ferreting out the truth and making the right decision. It is not easy, and they must often stand alone, knowing that when they sentence someone to prison, many lives hang in the balance between justice and mercy.
So I thank all of our leaders, and I thank all of our judges who are leading our courts into the 21st century.
May God bless them. May God bless you. And may God bless all the people of Georgia.
Thank you.

Just In From the Daily Report!!! “Judicial Ethics Chief Resigns After Daily Report Probes Billing Deal”

Damn, we cannot even trust the Judicial Ethics Chief to Not Cheat in Order to Get Extra Compensation!
Things are really bad when those who are in place to investigate Judges who have complaints filed against them, are themselves dishonest as hell. Does none of the judicial system and their investigators, not have to adhere to the laws that we are expected to adhere to?
Is that what it is all about? There are the citizens who are expected to follow rules and laws, then there are the judicial system that the same rules and laws don’t apply to?

Judicial Ethics Chief Resigns After Daily Report Probes Billing Deal
R. Robin McDonald, Daily Report
April 27, 2015 | 0 Comments
http://www.dailyreportonline.com/id=1202724678640/JQC-Director-Resigns?kw=JQC%20Director%20Resigns&et=editorial&bu=Daily%20Report&cn=20150427&src=EMC-Email&pt=Afternoon%20News&slreturn=20150327165110


Ronnie Joe Lane
File photo

The director of the state judicial watchdog agency has resigned following revelations that he was being paid full-time wages of $120,000 a year for what he reported was part-time work to avoid having to defer his retirement benefits.

Lester Tate, chairman of the state Judicial Qualifications Commission, said director Ronnie Joe Lane resigned Monday, the same day the Daily Report published details of Lane’s billing arrangement with the commission. The JQC polices the state’s judges and can recommend disciplinary action, including removal from office, if they stray from the state Code of Judicial Conduct.

“He has decided he wants to step down,” Tate said Monday afternoon. “Ronnie Joe does not want any cloud whatsoever … over the commission and over him. He served honorably in the military and honorably on the bench, and I think he did on the commission as well. He doesn’t want to be a distraction from the work we do.”

Tate said that Lane also asked—and Tate agreed—to waive the 60-day written notification required in order to terminate his JQC contract.

Tate said that he also is “taking every step to make sure that [ethics] cases are continuing to be moved, whatever their stage … and taking every step to make sure they are processed appropriately.”
Reached by telephone, Lane said he had no comment.

Lane retired as a Superior Court Judge in the Pataula Circuit last summer when JQC director Jeff Davis left the agency to become the executive director of the State Bar of Georgia.

In order to remain eligible to collect his judicial retirement—an estimated $84,000 a year—Lane told the Daily Report he billed the JQC $120 an hour for an estimated 20 hours per week of work, even though he was working at least 40 hours a week. State law (O.C.G.A. § 47-23-109) allows a state retiree who goes back to work for the state as either an employee or a contractor to collect retirement pay only if the retiree “performs no more than 1,040 hours of such service in any calendar year”—or about 20 hours a week.
Lane contended that any work he performed beyond 20 hours a week was donated to the state and therefore did not violate the 1,040-hour rule.

The executive director of the Judicial Retirement System told the Daily Report last week that the question of whether a retiree can write off as volunteer work any hours that exceed the 1,040-hour annual cap is “getting into a gray area” and that a state agency that hires a retired judge is supposed to report the hours he or she works. Neither the JQC nor Lane formally notified the employee retirement system in writing of Lane’s arrangement or the hours he anticipated working, another requirement of the state pension law.
In interviews with the Daily Report last week, the chairman of the Georgia House Judiciary Committee, a former JQC chairman and an Emory University ethics professor expressed serious reservations about Lane’s arrangement.

Lane’s resignation followed a commission meeting on Friday. Afterward, Tate wrote a letter asking James Potvin, the head of the state employee retirement system, for guidance as to whether the JQC’s contract with Lane was appropriate.

Tate told Potvin the JQC had only recently become aware of the state law setting the 1,040-hour cap. “Judge Lane is of the opinion that this limitation only relates to the number of hours of service for which he is paid,” Tate wrote. “Realizing that the job of director may require more than 1,040 hours of service in a calendar year, it was Judge Lane’s belief that he could donate, pro bono, any additional hours of service needed to perform his duties so long as he was only compensated for 1,040 hours.”

Tate did not mention in his letter that Lane was being paid the previous director’s full-time salary for what was, at least on paper, part-time hours.

“Is Judge Lane still entitled to collect his pension under this agreement?” Tate asked. “Are there any implications to the commission and its budget for employing Judge Lane in this manner?”

The Daily Report also made inquiries about Lane’s expenses before his departure on Monday. In five of his first nine months on the job, Lane sought more than $7,000 in reimbursements, more than double the $6,205 that Davis billed for all of fiscal year 2014. Those expenses included reimbursements for his 520-mile round-trip commute from his Donalsonville home to the JQC’s office in Monroe. Tate told the newspaper that if Lane billed the JQC to commute “just to get to the office,” he did not believe it was an appropriate expense.

On Monday, Tate said that whether Lane should have billed the commission remains “a point of disagreement.”
“It was not the intent of the commission to pay round trip for what I call a pure commute,” he said. He would not comment on whether Lane was asked to repay the JQC for the reimbursed mileage.

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