SEPTEMBER EDITION • 2015
by Daniel DeWoskin
President, DeKalb Bar Association
For those of you who were able to attend the last DeKalb Bar Association meeting, you heard me speak about how our organization is in a unique position to stand out as a positive force in DeKalb County at this time. If you have seen anything in the newspaper or on television regarding DeKalb County, the chances are that it has been negative. Our former CEO has been convicted of perjury and criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion. Another former commissioner was sentenced to federal prison for defrauding taxpayers. Our county is mired in concerns about corruption, misuse of taxpayer dollars, uncertainty regarding incorporation of cities, and distrust of our leaders. An anticipated report from an independent investigation into the county makes it clear that the end is not in sight.
Please note on your calendar and RSVP now for the September Bar luncheon on Sept. 17 when we welcome Judge Eleanor L. Ross as our guest speaker.
Judge Eleanor L. Ross was nominated to serve as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by President Barack Obama in 2013. She is the first African-American female judge to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Prior to her confirmation in November, 2014, Judge Ross served here in DeKalb County as a state court judge for Division 5 from 2011-2014.
Before becoming a judge, Judge Ross was an experienced prosecutor who tried more than 130 cases in Fulton County, DeKalb County, the Northern District of Georgia and Fort Worth, Texas. Judge Ross had prosecuted felonies and misdemeanors and both federal and state crimes.
Judge Ross has been recognized by several different agencies and received numerous accolades for her work, including:
• 2011: Georgia’s Most Powerful and Influential Attorney Award by Women Looking Ahead Magazine
• 2010: Fulton County Assistant District Attorney of the Year
• 2000: Fulton County District Attorney Homicide Attorney of the Year
• 2000: Fulton County Voice for Victims Award
Judge Ross also started the Division V Art Challenge Contest in 2011. This contest, open to all middle and high school students in DeKalb County, invited students to submit drawings, paintings, photography, collages, and sculptures. Judge Ross was and remains concerned about cuts to art programs in DeKalb schools and wanted to contribute in a meaningful way.
Judge Ross lives with her husband, Judge Brian Ross, who was recently appointed to our new DeKalb State Court Traffic Division and her two daughters.
Remember to RSVP
Be sure to RSVP by Monday, Sept. 14, for our monthly luncheon on Thursday, Sept. 17, at the historic Old Courthouse on the square, 101 E. Court Square in downtown Decatur. RSVP now by clicking here to register.
You won’t want to miss what Sawicki’s has planned for the menu:
- Roasted salmon
- Summer veggie medley
- Veggie lasagna
- Green Salad
- Turkey wrap
- Ham wrap
Not Your Every Day Custody Case:
Advanced Issues Facing Custody Litigators and Guardians ad Litem
The Family Law Section of the DeKalb Bar Association is pleased to present this special full-day CLE opportunity.
Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015
8 a.m.-5 p.m.
State Bar of Georgia Conference Center
104 Marietta St. NW, Suite 100, Atlanta 30303
$95 for members of the DeKalb Bar Association Family Law Section
$120 for non-members or on-site registration
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the State Bar of Georgia will host a Meet the Judges cocktail reception in connection with the DeKalb YLD. The event will be held at Cakes and Ale restaurant at 151 Sycamore St. in downtown Decatur from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
For the last two years, the Family Law Committee of the State Bar of Georgia YLD has hosted a Meet the Judges event to allow younger attorneys an opportunity to meet and get to know the Superior Court judges in the county.
Food and beverages are included thanks to our generous sponsors. If you are interested in sponsorship, please contact Jessica Fagan (email@example.com) or Katie Kiihnl (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Family Law Section Breakfast is held on the first Tuesday of each month, 7:30-9 am at the historic Old Courthouse on the Square in downtown Decatur, 101 E. Court Square. Join us for for a delicious buffet breakfast and a changing lineup of guest speakers who provide insights and new information about family law.
Our guest speaker for the October 4 breakfast is TBA. To RSVP click here.
For more information . . .
If you practice family law in DeKalb County we encourage you to visit the Family Law Section page on the DeKalb Bar website where you will find valuable information regarding each DeKalb County judge’s preferences for a variety of calendar and procedural issues.
On August 26, The DeKalb Bar Association Trial Lawyers Section (TLS) enjoyed the latest of the occasional “A View From The Bench” series. Judges J.P. Boulee and Mike Jacobs, DeKalb County’s newest judges, were joined and supported by their colleagues, judges Mark Scott and Wayne Purdom. For many members of the TLS, this was their first opportunity to meet the new judges. After spending some time to socialize, Judges Boulee and Jacobs talked about their backgrounds and their vision of how they expect to run their respective courtrooms. Both judges invited suggestions and comments on trial procedures. A lively discussion with the TLS members ensued. Judge Scott and Judge Purdom also provided valuable insights based upon their experience.
All in all, it was a great exchange of ideas in a casual setting at Bruce Hagen’s beautiful law office in the historic Marble House on McDonough Street in Decatur.
Said TLS President Doug Aholt, “The View From The Bench series is a wonderful opportunity for the bench and bar to talk shop outside the confines of a specific case. We also have enough social time built into the program so that we can make personal and professional connections. We welcome Judge Boulee and Judge Jacobs to DeKalb, and look forward to working with them.”
A Move Towards Transparency for Law Enforcement and District Attorneys
by Toni Schwahn, CPA, CFET
For some time now, Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture laws have been the source of debate and scrutiny. During the last legislative session, the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Nathan Deal made moves to reform this legislation; thereby creating The Uniform Civil Forfeiture Procedure Act, which became effective on July 1, 2015. Besides making changes to the laws that govern the actual seizure of property, this act also outlines the use and reporting requirements for asset forfeiture money. Under former law, forfeited assets could be used for “payment of any and all necessary expenses for the operation of the office”. Under the new law the definition narrowed to state that the funds must be used only for “official prosecutorial purposes.”
Forfeited funds are public funds and subject to normal accounting and auditing requirements. The act provides another level of accountability and transparency by requiring offices receiving forfeited funds to file an annual report with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council (PAC) and the State Auditor. This report is due by January 31st for the preceding calendar year.
The PAC is tasked with developing the form to be used for reporting the forfeited funds. They are encouraging offices who receive these funds to use generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and to maintain accurate records relating to the receipt and use of these funds. To see a complete list of appropriate uses of forfeited funds please refer to the new law O.C.G.A. Section 9-16-19(a)(5).
Please help welcome these newest members to our organization. Be sure to introduce them to your colleagues at DeKalb Bar programs and events in the coming year, and invite them to get involved with our committees and sections. Remember, all are always welcome to join, and we have made it easy to join (or renew) and pay your dues online at our main DeKalb Bar Association website.
New Members of the DeKalb Bar Association
Dr. Rita Sheffey
M. Muffy Blue