Choosing to Stay and Fight For Kids in Trouble

“What happened in your life that made you a passionate advocate for kids?” When Jane Hansen, Information Officer for the Georgia Supreme Court, asked me this question last week during an interview, I thought, “Whoa — the question assumed something happened to me.” Now I am paranoid — what does she know that I don’t? I have known Jane going way back to my days as a parole officer when she was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution — she has a keen sense of things. This “happening” resides in the recesses of my mind, something that rises to the surface from time to time when triggered by an event, song, or a question.

Georgia High Court Changes Definition of Armed Robbery

Following this week’s state Supreme Court ruling, the definition of “armed robbery” in Georgia has been changed. Now, according to the state’s high court, a person can be convicted of armed robbery without ever taking anything. The case stems from an incident in March 2009 when defendant Francisco Gutierrez, then 16, and four others entered a Chinese restaurant in Winder, Ga. while armed with an assortment of weapons, including a handgun, an aluminum baseball bat and a hammer. An undercover officer witnessed the incident and fearing for the safety of the owner and a small child inside, fired at the intruders.

Georgia Chosen for Study of Legal Representation of Abused Children

More than 100 Georgia attorneys will participate in a four-year study of the legal representation of neglected and abused children. Georgia was chosen as one of two states to be research and demonstration sites for the National Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System. The Georgia Supreme Court’s Committee on Justice for Children will administer the study in partnership with the Barton Child Law and Policy Center at Emory University and the Georgia Association of Counsel for Children. “Being part of this study provides Georgia a good opportunity to train attorneys to become better advocates for the children of our state,” Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harris P. Hines said. “It is hoped that the training will have a positive impact by lessening the time it takes to safely return children to their parents, or if this cannot be done, to timely find permanent families for Georgia’s foster children.”

The National Quality Improvement Center at the University of Michigan Law School collaborating with the U.S. Children’s Bureau chose Georgia and Washington as the two test sites.