"I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office to which I have been elected, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and promulgate the ideals and philosophy of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges."
With that solemn oath, Judge Michael Key of Troup County, GA became the new President of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Supreme Court of Georgia Justice P. Harris Hines administered the oath July 20 in San Diego at the organization’s 73rd annual conference.
In accepting his new responsibilities, Judge Key spoke about the implications of the new federal law that permits young people to remain in foster care longer, until they reach 21 years. At the same time, the new law has increased the requirements for keeping siblings together. He said efforts to reduce the number of children in foster care must put safety first. And he called for a new focus on reducing the number of the nation’s “legal orphans” – those who age out of foster whose parents had their rights terminated.
Among those present for the swearing-in were a number of Judge Key’s colleagues, including officers from the Georgia Council of Juvenile Court Judges. Juvenile Court Judge Aaron Cohn of Muscogee County, GA delivered a taped inspirational message. Judge Key's younger son, daughter-in-law and three young grandchildren also delivered a taped message that was a tad less solemn and included a song to grandpa.
Michelle Barclay is director of the Supreme Court of Georgia's Committee on Justice for Children at the Administrative Office of the Courts.