How the Coronavirus(COVID-19) is affecting Georgia's Legal System

georgia impacted by covid-19 coronavirus

After almost 25 years of criminal litigation practice, I see many of the same questions and concerns from many of my clients. “Why am I being treated this way?” - “How could this have happened?” - “I wish I had done things differently.” My advice in those situations is always the same.

There is no benefit in focusing on “why” or dwelling on the past. What is important is what has happened and how best to deal with it. You cannot change anything that has already happened; your focus should be on how to get the best possible outcome under the circumstances. That is my goal for every client I represent.

I find this thinking appropriate during the pandemic that is now gripping our nation. We may never know exactly how or why this virus swept into our communities. We cannot change anything that was, or was not, done to slow its spread. We can work to obtain positive outcomes - in our families, our jobs, and our legal cases – despite the challenging circumstances.

Since this outbreak began, I have worked daily to provide support for my clients and, most importantly, to get as many incarcerated people as possible released from jail.

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it for almost everyone, and it has certainly changed the criminal justice system. Here in Georgia, the state Supreme Court declared a “judicial emergency” in mid-March. In essence, the high court instructed all lower courts to cease most “non-essential” court functions.

This has meant that the majority of criminal court appearances, such as calendar calls, motions hearings, and arraignments, have been cancelled or rescheduled. Hearings are still being conducted for individuals who are in jail, with the goal being to release as many of those people as possible. Hearings that are considered to be essential for the safety of the public or an individual, such as Temporary Protective Orders, are still being conducted on a limited basis. Those of us who help to manage Accountability Court programs are still working hard to provide support, treatment, and accountability for our participants.

Many courts are using this situation to foster innovation. Hearings are being conducted by videoconference technology; judges are exploring ways to communicate and share documents electronically. Our hope is that these efforts will not only help, in the short term, to slow the spread of the virus by keeping as many people as possible away from the courthouses, but will also lead to better and more efficient ways to handle cases once this crisis passes.

Even as this virus works its way through our communities, life will go on. Unfortunately, police will continue to make arrests and those arrested individuals will still need legal representation to ensure that their rights are protected.

If you need an attorney, please call me. If you have questions about how your case will proceed during these uncertain times, please call me (770) 954-8433.

Court is stressful under the best of circumstances, and a crisis situation only adds to that stress. But you don’t have to handle it alone. My promise to each of my clients is that I will do everything that can be done, based on decades of experience with cases like yours, to put them in the very position they can be in. “Excellence in Defense” is more than just a motto, it is the guiding principle behind every case I undertake. Rest assured that no virus will change that.