Cobb judges trained in implicit bias

A former Obama administration official, Dr. Bryant T. Marks is the founder and chief equity officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity. He recently trained 50 Cobb judges on implicit bias. (Courtesy of Cobb County)
A former Obama administration official, Dr. Bryant T. Marks is the founder and chief equity officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity. He recently trained 50 Cobb judges on implicit bias. (Courtesy of Cobb County)

The Cobb Judicial Circuit is among the first in the state to have judicial officers across all classes of courts recently attend implicit bias training.

Cobb Superior Court hosted this training which also was attended by Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

This interactive training from the National Training Institute on Race and Equity (NTIRE) at Morehouse College in Atlanta was led by Dr. Bryant T. Marks, the organization’s founder and chief equity officer.

The training focused on recognizing how implicit biases are “normal byproducts of being human, living in society and being overexposed to certain groups with certain traits and in certain roles,” according to a county statement.

A key concept is that implicit biases are “the machinery of the mind and not the content of one’s character,” the statement added.

Judges learned how to take steps to be more cognizant of and guard against these implicit biases in judicial decision-making.

“Today, we believe Cobb County became the first judicial circuit in Georgia to offer this type of impactful training to its judiciary from top to bottom, across all classes of courts,” said Chief Judge Rob Leonard, who organized the training. “It’s important to let the public know that we take very seriously our solemn obligation to dispense justice fairly and impartially.”

With 50 judges in attendance from the Cobb Superior, State, Juvenile, Probate, Magistrate and Municipal Courts, Leonard added, “I could not have been more pleased with the participation, engagement or the turnout. I am very proud of the leadership role that our bench played in bringing this training to judicial education in Georgia.”

Leonard said jury trials in the Cobb Judicial Circuit will begin the week of April 19.

Superior Court Judge Angela Brown, who attended the training, said, “It is important for us to begin to understand and address the historic race issues affecting justice in the court system, and this training was a great first step. To see my colleagues from all classes of Cobb courts and such great participation from my own Superior Court bench is encouraging.”

Chief Magistrate Brendan Murphy said, “As magistrate judges, our decisions set the trajectory for the entire criminal justice process. Even small unconsidered and unchecked, unconscious biases can have devastating consequences. I’m grateful Chief Judge Leonard organized this dynamic presentation and proud that all 18 Cobb magistrate judges actively participated.”

Chief State Court Judge Carl Bowers added, “The State Court of Cobb County, along with our colleagues in the other courts, is pleased to have participated in the implicit bias training offered by Dr. Marks. His topic is timely, relevant and beneficial.”

Marks served on President Barack Obama’s Board of Advisors with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and as a senior advisor with the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Via a series of White House briefings, Marks has provided implicit bias training to more than 2,000 police chiefs and executives.

Marks also has trained tens of thousands of police officers in local police departments across the United States and local prosecutors.

Information: Amanda Marshall at 678-522-9261 or amanda.marshall@CobbCounty.org, ntire.training/about-4

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