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Newton state lawmaker hears chief justice's final address
Sharon Henderson
District 113 State Rep. Sharon Henderson of Covington stands with Chief Justice Harold Melton and Melton's wife, Kimberly. (Special | Sharon Henderson)

On March 16, District 113 State Rep. Sharon Henderson, D-Covington, heard Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton deliver his third and final State of the Judiciary address.

The address was an opportunity for legislators to receive an update on what Georgia’s courts accomplished during the previous year and what lies ahead for the judicial branch. 

During his speech, Chief Justice Melton reflected on his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court where he has served for the last 16 years. He also announced the Supreme Court unanimously voted to name Presiding Justice David Nahmias as the next chief justice, Henderson said. 

Throughout the pandemic and the Statewide Judicial Emergency, the courts have remained open to address essential functions and critical cases, such as domestic abuse restraining orders, criminal bond hearings, mental health commitment hearings and cases where an immediate liberty or safety concern was present. Under the direction of Melton and the state’s Judicial Council, state courts and the Supreme Court have transitioned to video conferencing as a safer alternative to in-person proceedings, among other necessary rule changes to get our courts to a fully functioning capacity during the pandemic, a news release stated. 

As a result of the pandemic, criminal and civil jury trials have been suspended for most of the last year due to the number of people involved and the length of such trials.