Family law

Chief Judge Defends Survey Critics Decry as ‘Plot’ to Dismantle Fulton Family Court

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney blasted critics of a survey seeking input on the operations of the court’s Family Division as peddling an “alarmist” misinterpretation of the exercising. Those critics, together with lawyers, ministers, and a Fulton County commissioner, on Friday, released a declaration expressing “strenuous competition to the clandestine attempt through a few attorneys and some judges” to “dismantle the Fulton Family Division and to revert to the exercise of managing Family Law instances utilized years ago.”

But McBurney stated the survey was a habitual effort to display the court docket’s effectiveness and brushed off rumors that there was any plan to abolish the Family Division. “There’s a clever plan in location to gather records about the court,” McBurney stated Friday. “It’s a disgrace that a few human beings have mischaracterized it. The Family Division could be very a lot alive; whether it’s miles alive and nicely is an issue for debate.”

McBurney stated he and his fellow judges currently requested the own family law sections of the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association to flow into the net survey to their contributors.
The survey asked respondents to price whether the department advanced or declined over the last 5 years and whether they assist doing away with it and returning its responsibilities to all 20 judges, among different questions.


“We desired to get some feedback: ‘How are we doing? What can we do differently? What can we do higher,’” McBurney said. “It’s an unremarkable event aimed at enhancing performance.” Not anybody noticed it as such, which includes the coalition that sought to sound an alarm about the survey. The survey’s critics said that earlier than the Family Division’s introduction in 1998, family court docket instances were assigned to all of the courtroom’s judges, simply as civil and crook cases are, and “family law instances took backside rung precedence in granting hearings on infant help, baby custody, pressing instantaneous matters of shielding hearings, and the like. Moreover, many of the judges had been unwell-equipped to handle family matters and had an apparent distaste for coping with a circle of relatives regulation cases.”

“Fast forward to these days, the incentive of some legal professionals and a few sick-informed judges who might also lack the ancient angle[] is to searching for to dismantle the Family Division and to opposite the clock,” stated the statement.Among its signatories are former Superior Court Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore; Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington Jr.; and Rev. Gerald Durley; and Reverend Timothy McDonald and attorneys George O. Lawson, Janise Miller, Susan Ockleberry, and Antivirus Weems.

Moore, who retired in 2008, said she well remembered the times earlier than the department’s introduction.
“When I first came to the Superior Court bench in 1990, we treated Family Division instances whilst crook instances were being negotiated for pleas,” she said. “We needed human beings … who was educated in the circle of relatives law, and who acquired non-stop training,” Lawson said he had been a member of the Bar’s Family Law Section since its inception but became unaware of the survey until any other lawyer referred to it to him.

“It became supposedly sent out to family practitioners, but I by no means got it,” he said. Lawson stated he’d spoken to McBurney about the survey to specific his worries. “There are more seasoned se litigants in Family Court than in some other courtroom assume Magistrate Court,” Lawson stated. “I told Judge McBurney that households in disaster need immediate attention for such things as child assist, custody hearings. I don’t understand the purpose of going back to the vintage way.” “The solution is that that is nothing extra than statistics-collecting,” McBurney said. The responses are still being compiled, and in a while, “we’ll want to paintings through what we do with the effects,” he said. “We’re just excited as it looks as if we’re getting a variety of practitioners presenting up their perspectives. We want to offer opportunities for the bar to respond to the bench.”

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