Date: April 2, 2021
Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021
March 1, 2021, Georgia Courts Journal
Shots in Arms: Collaboration Between Courts, Communities, and Providers are Getting it Done.
March 30, 2021, Georgia Courts Journal
Date: March 19, 2021
Superior Court Judge Bonnie Chessher Oliver was recently recognized by the Division of Child Support Services as the first Parental Accountability Court in the State to collect over $1 million in child support cases. This is a tremendous milestone and comes as we mark the 10th anniversary of Parental Accountability Court (PAC) in Hall County. Parental Accountability Courts serve non-custodial parents facing contempt action for failure to pay child support and those in need of additional services and accountability to overcome barriers to supporting their children. Judge Oliver founded PAC for Hall and Dawson Counties in 2011 and has seen tremendous growth in the program since inception. Currently serving approximately 35 individuals, Judge Oliver’s program collected over $400,000 in child support payments with a 91% participant retention rate in 2020. In March, Judge Oliver was formally recognized for her commitment to providing assistance to non-custodial parents to ensure they meet their financial obligations to their children. Without the efforts of Parental Accountability Court, these funds might never have been collected and the cycle of continue incarceration resulting in barriers to provide consistent financial support would continue. Judge Oliver’s continued commitment and dedication serves as a model to other Parental Accountability Court programs across the State.
Write Up Provided by Ms. Jessi Emmett, Director of the NEJC’s Treatment Services Department.
Date: March 18, 2021
The Northeastern Judicial Circuit has successfully transitioned Drug Court and HELP Court to evening sessions in Hall County. The change comes after recognizing the need to better suit its participants and to help lessen the demand for courtroom space during the court’s normal 8:00 to 5:00 operating hours.
Switching to night court sessions has made it easier for participants to attend because it accommodates more of their work and childcare schedules. Treatment Services Director Jessi Emmett said, “Transitioning to an evening court schedule has been a vision of our judges for many years and we are excited to finally bring this to fruition.”
Drug Court leader Superior Court Judge Jason J. Deal stated, “Participants are required to work a full-time job. Switching to night court is not only beneficial for those in the program but for their employers as well.”
Helping participants manage program requirements such as this has always been important to the circuit’s judges. Pushing to make the necessary adjustments to schedules was well worth the efforts. Superior Court Judge Clint G. Bearden said, “While our version of ‘Night Court’ looks much different than the old tv show, I do feel we’ve borrowed some of its ‘out of the box’ thinking to come up with a practical solution for participants and court personnel.”
The new schedule has Drug Court convening at 5:00pm and HELP Court at 5:30pm each Thursday.
Date: February 19, 2021
Court Administrator, Jason Stephenson, recently completed his first year at the helm of the Northeastern Judicial Circuit’s Court Administration office. Mr. Stephenson faced many challenges during this time including a world-wide pandemic and a county-wide cyberattack in Hall County. “Jason has been a wonderful asset to the circuit and he has handled himself with professionalism and efficiency during some very uncertain and hectic times. We’re proud to call him our leader,” said Mr. Stephenson’s direct reports. Superior Court Judge, Jason J. Deal said, “(He) has kept the courthouse open safely, led the courts to transition to Zoom for most matters, and forged a relationship with not only those in the courthouse, but with outside partners as well such as our County government and the Sheriff. We’re blessed to have his calm leadership in these times of crisis.” The Northeastern Judicial Circuit would like to congratulate Jason for a job well done and wish him continued success as Court Administrator in the future.
Date: February 19, 2021
The COVID pandemic of 2020 presented several challenges to the practices of the accountability courts. Not only did treatment groups transition to a virtual platform but the traditional practice of in-person court appearances made the pivot to virtual as well. As judicial and court leadership work to redesign protocols for services such as judicial hearings and jury trials, the need to collaborate and think creatively was paramount. In an effort to best utilize courthouse space and resources, Hall County Drug Court and H.E.L.P. Programs have transitioned to an evening court schedule. Beginning February, 2021, each program began holding evening court appearances for program participants. The innovative vision of Chief Judge Kathlene Gosselin and Judges Jason Deal and Clint Bearden not only assisted in preserving courtroom availability for the public but allows program participants greater flexibility for gainful employment.