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2014 State of the Judiciary Address
Each year, the Georgia State Senate, the Georgia House of Representatives and the Georgia Supreme Court gather together in the House chamber for the State of the Judiciary Address. Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered to hear Hugh P. Thompson, Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, talk about the unique relationship between the three branches of the Georgia government.
Justice Thompson explained the importance of providing justice for everyone — no matter your social or economic standing. Whether you have a low income, whether you’re a veteran, whether you have a mental disorder or whether you speak English, you have a right to a fair trial and a lawyer.
Seventy percent of all lawyers in Georgia reside in the 5 counties surrounding the Atlanta area, Justice Thompson said. He added that there are 6 counties in Georgia that have no lawyers at all. This causes people to represent themselves in the courtroom without favorable outcomes — something he challenges the state of Georgia to work on changing.
"Judges worry not only about clogged dockets as a result of these pro se litigants," Justice Thompson said, "but more importantly, about unfair trials and unjust results. Our legal system is an adversarial system of justice. The reality is that poor people who represent themselves often lose."
He then applauded the 3 branches of government for working together to bring out criminal justice reforms these past few years. It's not only saving the state and its residents money but is also helping the accused survive in society rather than sitting in a cell in jail.
Justice Thompson ended the address by spotlighting Judge Ural Glanville of the Superior Court's Atlanta Judicial Circuit. Judge Glanville was a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army Reserve and while on duty in Afghanistan, he flew 2 U.S. flags in Georgia's honor. When he came back home, he presented these flags to the Georgia Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals of Georgia in a ceremony at the Capitol.
Chief Justice Thompson has been working in law since 1969. He attended Emory University, Oglethorpe University and the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University.
About the Author
Bethany McDaniel is the Interactive Web Content Manager for GeorgiaGov. She graduated from Berry College in Rome, GA with degrees in Visual Communication and History.