Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed four judges to oversee DeKalb County’s newly created traffic court, which is replacing Recorder’s Court and will handle about 175,000 cases a year.
Those who will become judges in the Traffic Division of DeKalb State Court are Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Shondeana Crews Morris; Sen. Ronald Ramsey Sr., D-Lithonia; Clayton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Brian Ross; and DeKalb Deputy Chief Assistant Solicitor General Keisha Storey.
Recorder’s Court had been entangled in legal battles over how it handled probation and traffic violations.
DeKalb County settled a federal lawsuit in March that had accused it of improperly jailing poor people who couldn’t afford misdemeanor probation fines and fees. And a federal class action lawsuit filed last week alleges that traffic cases were tried in the court for years, even though it lacked the proper jurisdiction, in “a scheme to generate revenue for a cash-strapped local government.”
The Georgia General Assembly in February approved House Bill 300, which abolished Recorder’s Court, with its functions absorbed into DeKalb State Court.
Several changes are being made in traffic court, which will operate from the same building as Recorder’s Court on Memorial Drive near Interstate 285, according to a letter from State Court Clerk Melanie Wilson to the DeKalb Bar Association:
- Private probation services will no longer be used, and all probation will be supervised by DeKalb State Court probation.
- Defendants will be be given up to six weeks to pay off fines and fees as a way to avoid being placed on probation.
- Monitors will be installed in the lobby to display defendants’ names and the courtrooms where they should appear.
- Once a case is assigned to a judge, it will remain with that judge through disposition.
- At least nine people will be dedicated to handle customer service phone calls from the public from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Monday through Thursday. They can be reached at 404-294-2099.
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