Judges statewide recently honored Melanie Bell of Newton County with the 2021 Outstanding Probate Judge of the Year award.
The Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia voted on the award that recognizes a judge who has made a significant contribution to the state’s probate courts. Every elected probate judge in Georgia is a Council member.
Bell was hospitalized with COVID-19 in 2020 but overcame the illness and took on a leadership role in helping the state judiciary respond to the pandemic, a news release stated.
She served as a member of the Judicial Council of Georgia’s COVID-19 Task Force. During his final “State of the Judiciary” address, State Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton acknowledged Bell for being an integral contributor in crafting the COVID-19 guidance that was developed for courts across the state.
Bell said she was “incredibly honored to be recognized by my colleagues with this award.”
“Probate courts have been on the frontlines of the judiciary during the pandemic, and I was proud to represent our courts on the COVID Task Force to ensure services to our citizens while protecting our judges and clerks,” Bell said.
Bell is serving her second term as judge of Newton County Probate Court after being unopposed for re-election in November.
Fellow judges lauded Bell for “serving as a leading voice for probate courts” during the pandemic, the release stated.
Council President Kelli Wolk of Cobb County said Bell was “a true testament to what a judge should be, particularly during an uncertain time,” the release stated.
“Judge Bell was stricken with that awful virus, but she did not allow that to stop her,” Wolk said. “Thankfully, she bounced back and more importantly, she used her COVID experience to help inform the judiciary’s response to the pandemic.
“She has always represented us well, but in the past year, she has been an inspiration. I’m proud to call her a colleague,” Wolk said.
The Council helps probate judges improve the execution of their duties and promotes professional training.