chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.
October 08, 2021

Coming Out of COVID: Judicial Education, Fellowship and “Jazz with The Judges”

By Hon. Richard Ginkowski, Pleasant Prairie, WI

Fellowship, problem sharing and problem solving with cool jazz topped the agenda for the North Georgia Judicial Summit held June 26 at Inola Blue Ridge north of Atlanta. About 30 judges and attorneys met for a wide-ranging continuing legal education program presented by the judicial sections of the Gate City Bar Association and the DeKalb Lawyers Association.

Civility in the courtroom and online was a prime topic.  Phinia Aten, Rockdale County Georgia Chief Magistrate Judge and current Chair of the National Conference of Specialized Court Judges, related she has a mirror on her bench so that she can see herself as others in the courtroom see her.

“People look to us to be role models and we have to be role models in our community,” said Judge Aten. Judge Aten said it was particularly challenging during the darkest days of the COVID-19 pandemic for judges to avoid becoming too isolated. “Don’t be afraid to reach out,” she said, noting that there are options ranging from sharing experiences with fellow judges to confidential Lawyer Assistance Programs.

NCSCJ Vice Chair Berryl Anderson, chief state court judge for DeKalb County, Ga., said judges and litigants, having had to conduct court business virtually for more than a year, are now assessing to what extent virtual and online proceedings will be retained in the post-pandemic era. While judges will retreat from holding jury trials in auditoriums and theaters she said “the courts belong to the people” and litigants appreciated the convenience of virtual appearances.

DeKalb County State Court Judge Ronald Ramsey, Immediate Past NCSCJ Chair, and Richard Ginkowski, NCSJC Education Committee Chair and President of the Wisconsin Municipal Judges Association, told of how they transitioned to virtual “Zoom” hearings and set up online portals giving defendants the ability to handle many court matters online.

Retired New Orleans Juvenile Court Judge Ernestine Gray, Chair-Elect of the ABA Judicial Division, summed up the business portion of the day with a simple, “It’s good to be here.”

The Judicial Summit coincided with the Blue Ridge Mountains Wine and Jazz Festival, also held at Inola Blue Ridge. A great social and learning experience was had by all.

The material in all ABA publications is copyrighted and may be reprinted by permission only. Request reprint permission here.