New York’s Lawyers and Judges Behaving Badly, From New York Law Journal

https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2018/12/30/lawyers-judges-behaving-badly/
Tara-Lenich-Article-201612051956
Tara Lenich, admitted to forging judicial orders to run illegal wiretaps on a fellow prosecutor and a New York City Police Detective, sentenced to one year in prison in early 2018.

Edmund-Duffy
Edmund Duffy’s five-decade legal career, during which he rose to prominence as the former heard of the China practice at Skadden, officially ended 02/08/2018, when he was automatically disbarred after he pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

AP-Robert-Cicale-web
A Suffolk County District Court Judge was suspended from the bench after he was arrested and charged with burglary. He was caught with women’s underwear that he allegedly stole from a private residence.

Evan-Greebel-Article-201710202147
Evan Greebel, a former partner at Kaye Scholer and Katten Muchin Rosenman, was sent to prison for working with disgraced pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli to defraud investors.

ravelo-keila-Article-201810091948
Keila Ravelo was sentenced to five years for conspiring to defraud her former law firms and clients out of $7.8 Million, using bogus litigation vendors. Prosecutors said that the former Hunton & Williams and Willkie Farr & Gallagher partner used the money to fuel a lavish lifestyle.

Frank-Aquila-Article-201809281858
Prominent M&A partner Frank Aquila deleted his Twitter account after tellling White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders she should “Rot in Hell You Bitch” for defending Sen. Lindsey Graham amid the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

Aaron-Schlossberg-Article-201805171926
Manhattan attorney Aaron Schlossberg’s rant against employees speaking Spanish at a Mexican Restaurant provoked a firestorm on social media.

Anna-Lushchinskaya-Article-201812142118
Another viral video captured a second New York City lawyer who directed racially charged comments at bystanders.

Gavel-and-Book-Article-201710162142
“Egragious and outragesou” conduct by ex-Mintz Levin associate Anthony Jacob Zappin during his pro se legal war with his former wife, also an attorney, led to his disbarment.

Judicial-Robe-Article-201712011528
New York’s high court unanimously said that Civil Court Judge Terrence O’Connor’s “intemparate” and “inappropriate” behavior in the courtroom were bad enough, but his decision to not cooperate with an investigation into his actions also contributed to his removal from the bench.

Advertisements

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.
==============================
Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult or check us out on www.lendinglies.com.
I provide advice and consultation to many people and lawyers so they can spot the key required elements of a scam — in and out of court. If you have a deal you want skimmed for red flags order the Consult and fill out the REGISTRATION FORM.
A few hundred dollars well spent is worth a lifetime of financial ruin.
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.
==========================
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.
  • Share
  • 2Comments

 


Alex Jones © Sean P. Anderson / Flickr
HomeUS News
Alex Jones suspended from Twitter after tweet calling to end censorship
Published time: 15 Aug, 2018 05:50
Edited time: 15 Aug, 2018 12:25
https://on.rt.com/9cee
Alex Jones suspended from Twitter after tweet calling to end censorship
InfoWars host Alex Jones

Controversial right-wing commentator Alex Jones has been banned from tweeting after he posted a link to a video of himself calling on President Trump to “take action” against tech companies censoring his content.

Infowars Editor Paul Joseph Watson tweeted a screenshot of the notification sent by Twitter staff to Jones. According to Twitter, a tweet by Jones one day earlier was considered to be “targeted harassment,” and, as a result, the Infowars host would have his access to the social-media platform restricted for one week. Watson described the situation as “truly, monumentally, beyond stupid.”

Alex Jones has been suspended by Twitter for 7 days for a video talking about social media censorship. Truly, monumentally, beyond stupid. 😄

On the same day that the Infowars website was brought down by a cyber attack.

Will this madness ever end? pic.twitter.com/hXDzH2b7rT
— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) August 14, 2018

In the video, Jones ranted about the censorship of conservative voices by Silicon Valley tech companies, directing much of his scorn at Apple CEO Tim Cook. He called his own ban from various tech platforms a “total anti-American attack,” and called on President Trump to “do something about it.” Along the way, he bashed Democrats, criticized the mainstream media, and accused Cook of working with the Chinese government to undermine America.

Jones’ Twitter page will remain visible for the duration of the ban, but he will not be able to tweet, retweet, follow, or like.

READ MORE: Who’ll host Alex Jones? Porn sites enter the infowars

Last week, Infowars found itself banned from the platforms of almost every major Silicon Valley company – including Facebook, YouTube, Apple, and Spotify – for violating their community standards and spreading ‘hate speech.’

Until Tuesday, Twitter was one of Jones’ last safe havens online, and CEO Jack Dorsey said that Jones would not be banned until he broke the site’s rules.

Jones’ excommunication was cheered by many in the US, including Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who called Infowars “the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies.” He demanded even more censorship in the name of ‘saving democracy.’

Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) August 6, 2018

Jones’ supporters blasted the companies for censoring the rabble-rousing host, and former UKIP leader Nigel Farage called him a “victim of collusion by the big-tech giants.”

Whether you like @RealAlexJones and Infowars or not, he is undeniably the victim today of collusion by the big tech giants. What price free speech? https://t.co/DWroGYaWvk
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 6, 2018

While effectively banned from much of the internet, Jones still posted content to the Infowars website, and via the Infowars app, which has surged in popularity amid the furore. However, on Tuesday, the Infowars website went offline in what staff called a cyberattack. Upon landing on the site, visitors would simply find an error message, which was later replaced with a low-fi splash page directing them to several other affiliated sites.

They can refer to Alex Jones anyway they want to, Freedom of Speech, but censorship is censorship, are we gonna take it? I say Hell No! Facebook and Twitter can go bobbing for whatever they want, but censorship is censorship, and if we allow them to censor us, they will effectively destroy our First Amendment Rights, and move on the Second Amendment Rights and so forth.

China taking over and censoring the internet? And nobody did shit when Obama let the internet slip away from American control. Pussies!

The Sleuth Journal: Are you Outraged about the Refugee Crisis?


Are you Outraged about the Refugee Crisis? (VIDEO)

Are you Outraged about the Refugee Crisis? (VIDEO)

Posted by Luis Miranda
Date: March 02, 2017

Are you Outraged about the Refugee Crisis? (VIDEO) | refugee | Government Government Corruption Multimedia Obama Exposed Sleuth Journal Special Interests Trump War Propaganda World News

(The Real Agenda News) Where was that outrage when it all started?

Where was your protest when the Obama administration chose to support terrorist groups – with money and weapons – in both Libya and Syria?

Where were you, concerned citizen, when the Obama administration chose to support terrorists in Yemen?

Where were all the anti-war, anti-business-as-usual people when Obama dropped over 26,000 bombs over those countries only in 2016?

All of you who are protesting Donald Trump’s decision to issue a temporary ban on refugees and immigrants, because you think he is being “mean” to disgraced refugees, do you understand why millions of refugees left and continued to leave their countries?

Instead of repeating what the mainstream media says, much of which is fake news, get educated and at least attempt to understand why so many men, women and children from North Africa and the Middle East are desperate to find a peaceful place to live.

If you don’t understand why, watch the video below and understand.

Syria, Libya and Yemen are Obama’s wars and he left the White House after 8 years in office without having done a single thing to end the wars he provoked. More outrageous than that is the fact that he ran away with a Nobel Peace Prize that he never worked for to earn.

While you were seating around on your couch, your president set the Middle East and Northern Africa on fire, and left office without being held accountable. And you concerned citizen, you are responsible for that too.

In case you are wondering, there is indeed something more xenophobic, racist and discriminatory than controversial or offensive rhetoric: standing by doing nothing while your president and your government kills millions of people because of their skin color, ethnicity or religious preference.

No country on Earth has the capacity to absorb millions of refugees a year as the European Union expects countries to do, or as you, concerned citizen, expect the United States to do.

The only way to reduce the large number of refugees, and to prevent it from being greater than it is already, is by stopping your governments from aiding terrorist groups, so they do their dirty work for them, and to stop bombing third world nations.

Those are the only real solutions.

ENENews: “70% of Japan’s agricultural and marine products are contaminated.”

Top Official: Over 60 million Japanese irradiated by Fukushima — Nuclear Expert: 50,000 sq. miles of Japan highly contaminated… Many millions need to be evacuated… Gov’t has decided to sacrifice them, it’s a serious crime — TV: More than 70% of country contaminated by radiation (VIDEOS)

 http://enenews.com/top-official-60-million-japanese-irradiated-fukushima-nuclear-expert-50000-square-miles-country-highly-contaminated-many-millions-be-evacuated-govt-decided-sacrifice-serious-crime-professor-70-l?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Published: April 12th, 2016 at 3:31 pm ET
By

Interview with nuclear engineer Hiroaki Koide (translation by Prof. Robert Stolz, transcription by Akiko Anson), published Mar 8, 2016 (emphasis added): [Radioactive] material has been dispersed, contaminating Tohoku, Kanto [Tokyo area], and western Japan… [The law says] that absolutely nothing may be removed from a radioactive management area in which the levels exceed 40,000 Becquerels per square meter… [H]ow much area has been contaminated beyond 40,000 Bq/m2… that answer is 140,000 km^2 [54,054 square miles]… Indeed, while centered on Fukushima, parts of Chiba and Tokyo have also been contaminated. The number of people living in what must be called a radiation-controlled area is in the millions, and could exceed ten million… I believe the government has the responsibility to evacuate these entire communities… the government decided to leave them exposed to the real danger of radiation. In my view, Fukushima should be declared inhabitable… but if that were to be done, it would likely bankrupt the countryThey’ve decided to sacrifice people… In my view, this is a serious crime committed by Japan’s ruling elite… [F]undamentally, people must not be forced to live in contaminated areas… First must come complete evacuation… [W]hen it comes to radiation… “removal of contaminants” is impossible… This stuff contaminates everything.

Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister of Japan, Apr 11, 2016 (at 2:15 in): The molten material broke through the pressure vessel and accumulated low down in the containment. Now what would have happened if this molten material had escaped from the containment?… A radius of 250 kilometers — which includes the city of Tokyo — anyone living in this area, if you count them up it comes to 50 million or 40% of the Japanese population, and they would all have had to be evacuated. As we know from Chernobyl, not just a couple of weeks, but 30 years or 40 years — it would have virtually meant the end of Japan. [Note: Many nuclear experts believe the molten fuel did in fact escape from the containment] Half the population was subject to radiation [Japan Population: 127 million]. That’s something that could just be imagined, for instance the event of losing a major war.

Arirang (Gov’t-funded Korean TV network), ‘Fukushima and Its Aftermath’, Mar 16, 2016 (at 6:45 in) — Prof. Kim Ik-Jung, Medical College at Dongguk Univ.: “When you look at the contamination map, about 70% of Japan is contaminated by radiation. That means that 70% of Japan’s agricultural and marine products are contaminated.”… According to PNAS, one of the five major scientific journals, over 70% of the land in Japan is contaminated by radiation.

Watch: Prime Minister Kan | Arirang’s Fukushima Special

ENENews: L.A. Times: “Ongoing fish famine” along US West Coast — “Dearth of food across ocean” — Severe fishery implosion — Supply has been low since 2011 — Gov’t Expert: “Looks very grim… It is hard to watch”

L.A. Times: “Ongoing fish famine” along US West Coast — “Dearth of food across ocean” — Severe fishery implosion — Supply has been low since 2011 — Gov’t Expert: “Looks very grim… It is hard to watch”
http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-coastal-watch-20160225-story.html
Published: February 29th, 2016 at 9:58 am ET
By ENENews

L.A. Times, Feb 25, 2016 (emphasis added): Fewer sea lions have been stranded this year, but that’s a bad sign, scientists say… it’s a sign that the sea lion population is dwindling rather than recovering. An ongoing fish famine is preventing mothers from producing enough milk, resulting in smaller and less hardy pups. As of Monday, there had been 375 sea lion strandings so far in 2016… about 160 sea lions are found stranded during the first two months of a typical year… [L]ess available prey are hurting newly born sea lions the most, potentially slowing down the species’ population growth, scientists say. “It’s going to decline,” said Sharon Melin, wildlife biologist at the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center… During NOAA’s survey of the sea lion breeding grounds, Melin said, researchers saw more dead pups than usual. The increased mortality could cause fewer pups to become stranded because they’re dying before they can leave the islands, she said. The exact number of dead pups is not known… The pups… should have gained about 20 pounds in the last six months, Melin said, but they haven’t grown at all. “It still looks very grim this year,” Melin said…

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2016/feb/24/sea-lion-pup-strandings/
S.D. Union Tribune, Feb. 24, 2016: Record sea lion strandings are tapering off; Scientists say the trend may indicate dwindling population, not a recovery… SeaWorld San Diego typically rescues 200 marine mammals in any given year. Already this year, there are 147 sea lions in SeaWorld’s care, according to David Koontz, theme park spokesman… The low birth weight suggests that there isn’t adequate prey… “It’s a clear sign that there is a mismatch between supply and demand,” said Nate Manuta, a NOAA climate scientist… The dearth of food across the ocean isn’t harming the adult sea lions as much as the pups… Melin said more pups are leaving their mothers before they are ready, likely because of hunger… Because food supplies have been low for five years, the habits of the species have to adjust. “We are seeing adaptation,” Melin said, “even though it is hard to watch.”

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/west-coast-sardine-populations-long-sinking-look-even-worse-in-forecast/
Seattle Times, Feb 27, 2016: Sardines off the West Coast have continued on a steep decline, with populations this summer forecast to be down 93 percent from a 2007 peak, according to a draft assessment from the National Marine Fisheries Service… Last year, the sardine implosion was so severe that the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to call off the season that was scheduled to start in July for West Coast fleets… The stocks of sardines aged one year or older are forecast to be 64,422 metric tons, about a third lower than the 2015 assessment… Albert Carter, of Ocean Gold Seafood… who serves on a Pacific Fishery Management Council advisory committee, said… if populations have continued to decline, he does not expect a 2016 season.
http://enenews.com/officials-historic-crisis-affecting-west-coast-facing-fishery-disaster-very-never-before-be-exclamation-alarm-general-public-unprecedented-include-threat-extinction-salmon-runs-closure-sardine-fish
See also: Officials: “Historic crisis” along US West Coast… “We’re facing a fishery disaster”… “Very never-seen-before things”… Should be exclamation alarm to public — Extinction threat for salmon runs; Loss of sardines, squid, sea urchins, kelp; Massive sea star deaths; Marine mammal strandings… more

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.