It's (Barely) Legal (Glen Ashman's Blog)

A Look at the Law from a Georgia Judge and lawyer

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About Glen Ashman
Glen (GEAATL)About Glen

Glen Ashman has been a Georgia Municipal Court Judge since 1988 and an attorney since 1980, practicing in the Atlanta area in a practice focused on divorce, adoption, bankruptcy, wills, and personal injury. He is the author of the Georgia Municipal Judges Benchbook, used by judges across the state.  He also authors the book used statewide by Georgia's court clerks.  Additionally, he regularly teaches his fellow judges at continuing legal education seminars.

He is a long-time participant in the online world, hosting some of the longest lived forums on Delphi Forums. His Personal Law and Southern States forums date to the mid 1990s.  He also hosts the Medical Forum, Weight Watchers Forum, Atlantic States, Virtual Travel and Memorial Forum and is a former member of DelphiForums staff.  His Ask a Lawyer for Free is one of the oldest legal help resources on the internet. 

He is a cum laude graduate of Mercer Law School, where he was on the Law Review and holds a B.A. from Emory University.  His interests range from the law to politics, from cooking to sports, from science fiction to computers, and from music to travel.  He's also an avid science fiction fan. 

For more information on Mr. Ashman's law office go to http://www.glenashman.com

About this Blog

Somewhere around 1980-1981 Glen Ashman first discovered the online world with local bulletin boards.  In the years ahead, he found GEnie, Delphi and NVN, as many bulletin board members discovered forums online.  By 1994, he was actively hosting online forums at Delphi Forums and NVN, the former of which were some of the internet's early online forums.   Links to some of his current forums appear in the Links section in this Blog.

Within a couple years the author had various web pages as well.   The current ones are at www.glenashman.com and www.glenashman.net   Along came a new concept as we entered this century - blogs.  A blog is an interesting cross between web pages and web forums.  This one is a work in progress, as all new things are.  But there is a common theme back to 1980 that lives in this blog - communication, education, community, discussion, learning and growth online. 


This blog shares a mission that Glen's other websites do - education and help: letting the average person access legal services at a reasonable cost, learning how to do some of the needed legwork when one has a problem and learning more about the law as well as the world around us.


If you want to contact the author, email him at geaatl@msn.com .   He welcomes your comments and thoughts.   Or visit his website at http://www.glenashman.com     His Delphi forums are accessible from the links section of this blog, and you're invited to visit Personal Law, Southern States, Weight Watchers, Medical Forum , Virtual Traveler and Atlantic States .

Disclaimer and Legal Fine Print: 

Lawyers have to have disclaimers. Here's the one for this Blog. The contents of this page Copyright 2006-2014 by Glen Ashman.  All Rights Reserved.   External links on this page are supplied for your use and convenience but are serviced and provided by third parties, so we cannot be responsible for their accuracy and content. Trademarks used belong to the respective trademark holders.   The information herein is not legal advice and unless you later retain him by written contract, Glen Ashman is not your lawyer.  If you have a legal problem, you need to hire a lawyer in your state rather than rely on online information. Disclaimer from the Judge: The opinions herein are solely his personal opinions. .
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10/3/14 11:54 PM

Chase covers up largest ID theft ever

From Oct. 2, 2012, in an amazing lapse of security- the nation's largest bank has put all its customers at extreme risk and has done almost nothing about it (and they have been deliberately covering it up):

Bloomberg 
 
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank, said a previously disclosed data breach affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses. Customer names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses were taken.  Customer names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses were taken, the New York-based bank said today in a regulatory filing. Internal data that identify customers by category, such as whether they are private-bank clients, was also obtained by hackers, said a person briefed on the matter.  The breach affected anyone who visited the company’s websites, including Chase.com, or used its mobile app, said the person, who requested anonymity because that information wasn’t publicly disclosed...“There is no evidence that account information for such affected customers -– account numbers, passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers –- was compromised during this attack,” the company said...JPMorgan had gigabytes of data, including customer-account information, siphoned by hackers in the attack, which lasted months, people familiar with the incident told Bloomberg News in August, shortly after its detection. Investigators in the case tracked stolen files to a Russian data center...

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Now you'd expect, after that story, that Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, to show some minimal respect for his customers, and to avoid a forced firing for his gross incompetence (both in allowing this, and covering it up), and to avoid criminal prosecution (see below), would have woke up today, realized the incredibible stupidity of his bank's position, and apologized in public for putting 83 million customers at risk, and maybe thrown them a small bone, like free ID theft coverage.   But no.  The rather arrogant CEO, who somehow has escaped prosecution in probes of widespread misconduct and fraud in his bank's mortgage practices (remember robosigners - https://mirsnow.com/you-may-have-money-waiting-for-you-due-to-robo-signing-and-foreclosure-errors-and-misrepresentations-by-the-banks/ ?) announced plans to attempt a cover up.   That is about the same as if he had stuck his tongue out at customers in an ad.  It also displays stupidity, since Chase tried to quietly give notice to bank regulators in a filing, something reporters found and plastered across America's newspapers this week.

Here's Dimon's rather inexplicable attempt at a coverup: "J.P. Morgan Chase won't notify those customers who have been affected by its summer security breach -- estimated to be two-thirds of U.S. households -- that their personal information was exposed, a spokesperson for the bank told MarketWatch. When asked why, the spokesperson said, "That's just what we're doing."  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/jp-morgan-wont-notify-customers-affected-by-breach-2014-10-03

Two questions remain, assuming Dimon doesn't resign or get fired:

1. Why would anyone keep Chase as their bank?  Chase should be flooded with customers this weekend withdrawing money, closing accounts, and moving to other banks, or credit unions.  No one should even think of banking with a bank so careless about customer data, and even if you think "it could happen anywhere" most responsible companies would have at least made a public statement.

2. Will Dimon and other top Chase execs be prosecuted?

California was the first state to pass a law requiring companies that keep personal data to disclose when that data is lost or stolen. Since then, many states have followed suit. Each of those state Attorney Generals now has a clear media statement to investigate, and use in an indictment.  As of January 2012, 46 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have enacted laws requiring notification of security breaches involving personal information.”   http://journalistsresource.org/studies/economics/business/data-breach-disclosure-laws-reduce-identity-theft 

I won't hold my breath for states to act, although they should, but there isn't an excuse for any business or personal company keeping a bank account at Chase at this point.  As bad as the recent mistakes were at other big companies like Home Depot, Target, and eBay, each of them at least apologized and did something.   Chase has known about their situation for months, and while they say it doesn't endanger customers, sure it does.   With a name, address, phone number, email, and type account, phishing schemes become easier to pull off, and identity thefts have a data pool of information that can be misused. 

Saying "we don't think anyone will be hurt so we'll hide it" is not a way any responsible bank should ever run their business.   The Chase Board of Directors may never do their job and fire Jamie Dimon.   But customers sure can.


 
9/16/14 1:17 PM

New Delphi format: Delphi of the future

Delphi has been testing a new format for months.  Soon some forums will be using it and you can even test how current forums look in the new format.  It has some plusses, some minusses and some bugs still.

Check these messages for a sneak peek:

http://forums.delphiforums.com/zetabeta/messages?msg=226.1

To see how my forums would look in the new format:

Personal law: http://forums.delphiforums.com/perlaw/zetabeta

Southern states: http://forums.delphiforums.com/southern/zetabeta

Travel: http://forums.delphiforums.com/traveller/zetabeta

Medical: http://forums.delphiforums.com/medhealth/zetabeta

Weight Loss: http://forums.delphiforums.com/terms/zetabeta

Atlantic states: http://forums.delphiforums.com/atlantic/zetabeta

Memorial forum http://forums.delphiforums.com/glen/zetabeta

I've been in the test forum for quite some time, so if you read there you'll see my input - pro and con - along with other testers.

 
9/14/14 1:14 PM

Companies to never patronize

There are a few companies whose behavior is so bad that many consumers, where possible, stay away from them.  Since each has many competitors, staying away isn’t hard.  Today’s posting looks at some companies many people are boycotting, and the reasons for those boycotts.   A look at why  you may want to stick with the competition:
       
·    BP Oil   - It’s bad enough that BP allowed an oil well disaster, clearly caused by their mismanagement and criminal negligence, in the Gulf of Mexico, causing tens of billions in damages to consumers, businesses and government.  What is more unconscionable is how the company is now trying to weasel out of paying under the very deal they agreed to in Court.  While other oil companies aren’t saints, no other company has tried harder to shift the cost of their mismanagement to the American consumer.

·    Hobby Lobby - This one’s simple.  We have a company where the management wants to impose its religious views on its employees, by denying its employees health care (contraception).  Hypocritically, while the company says it doesn’t want to pay for contraceptives, some of which have medically necessary purposes, but it invests and profits, in its retirement plan its executives make money from, in contraceptive companies.

·    Bank of America, Citibank, JP Chase Morgan, Wells Fargo  - There are lots of bad banks.  But these four collectively had a major role in the 2008 economic collapse, and have been caught, by regulators, in what may be hundreds of billions of dollars in cheating taxpayers and those with mortgages on their homes - everything from fraudulent robo-signing of court paperwork (a crime) to simply cheating people.  It’s a good reason to look at switching to credit unions.

·    General Motors - This one’s obvious.  For years GM covered up dangerous deadly defects, some of which would have added less than a dollar per car to prevent.  In essence they deliberately killed customers and hid the evidence until they got caught.  They have shown a contempt for customers unmatched by any company in history.  And they have shown they build junk.  So far, as of September 14, 2014, they have done 67 recalls this year alone, after being caught, covering 29 million vehicles, single-handedly setting a new one-year record for the auto industry.

·    Burger King  - Forget the fact they sell unhealthy food and have horrible customer service.  Every fast food company does that.  But they have chosen to abandon the U.S. and move their corporate headquarters, to pay less U.S. tax (meaning their customers will pay a bigger share for the police, fire department, ambulances, military, road building, etc. that benefits Burger King).  Why buy foreign, when all their major competitors are at least American?

·    ATT and Comcast  - Two companies dominate surveys for problems in customer service.  Sadly, in some cities, customers have no other real choices for cable TV, and few others in cell service.  And Comcast, with owning NBC Universal/USA Network, SyFy/etc dominates TV viewing.  But where you can, these are two bad apples and you can find better customer service almost anywhere else.

·    Target, TJ Maxx/Marshalls and Home Depot - Yes, other companies have had massive credit/debit card breaches.  But these are so big they could afford the security to get it right, and all three have had feeble, who-cares-if-customers are harmed, hide-the-bad-news reactions.  Yes, you may be at risk at competitors too, but it’s something to consider.  One other black mark on Target is its anti-gay activities: it was recently revealed the company donated funds to a lobby group that supports Republican Senator Tom Emmer and his anti-gay legislation.

·    Cracker Barrel - Few companies have been more hostile to people of color and to gays.  In 1991, 11 employees were fired for not displaying "normal heterosexual values," as was prescribed by an intra-company memo.  The company refuses even today to include same-sex couples in its benefits coverage and doesn’t have a non-discrimination policy as to sexual orientation.  It should also be noted that in 2004, the US Justice Department, after a long investigation, found that the chain restaurant had segregated customers, seated and served white customers before black customers, and allowed for white servers to refuse to wait on black customers. Cracker Barrel also later paid $2 million in 2006 to settle a suit related to charges of racial and sexual discrimination against employees.
 
9/4/14 11:38 PM

A day in the life of a Judge & a Lawyer

 
One of the most interesting aspects of my career comes from wearing two very different hats - practicing law as an attorney, and sitting on the bench as a judge.
Some people have asked me which is harder, and while both have challenges, to me that answer is easy. 

As a lawyer I am an advocate, and a problem solver.  But often I don't get to do the hardest thing - make a decision.  As a judge, with a few words and a signature, I may change a life.  A judge can send someone to jail, fine them, resolve conflicts, or, and this is the rewarding part - find a way to make a positive impact on that life.   There is some similarity in a way.  In both jobs I am often seeing people in crisis.  And in both, in different ways, I become part of the solution.

Having an insight into how judges think has taught me some lessons as to practicing law.  For all my ability to write long well written documents, I now know good briefs are brief.  And I understand better what judges expect of lawyers in a courtroom.   And in the reverse, I appreciate some of the things lawyers dislike from judges - being late in court, taking too long to decide cases, and so on.  Hopefully that knowledge has helped me in conducting court.

Perspective can be a great way to improve one's skills, and I will admit to one other advantage.  For a dozen years I have had the priviledge of authoring the bench book my fellow judges use, and for many years I have gotten to teach my fellow judges (and clerks) at seminars.  The person who may learn the most at a seminar is the person who got to prepare the lesson.

I look back at 26 years on the bench, and 34 as a lawyer, and I feel priviledged and humbled that I had the opportunity to serve and help so many people.  As a lawyer I get to deal with broken marriages, and overwhelming debt, and the end of life.  As a judge I again am seeing problems (although I get a great bonus - I get to marry people - including my own sister and daughter).   At the end of the day - in different ways - I have an important part in many lives.

I look forward to the next 34 years.  It never will be easy.  But it's rewarding.
 
7/25/14 10:05 PM

Today's dumbest criminals

Today's least competent criminals:

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Open-and-shut case: Police easily bust bank robber wearing shirt with his name on it

DENVER, July 25 (UPI) --Colorado man John David Martinez was booked into Denver jail on robbery charges after allegedly robbing a bank while wearing a shirt with his name on it.

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Oklahoma woman allegedly calls police to complain that her meth was 'laced'

ENID, Okla., July 25 (UPI) --Oklahoma woman Lynette Rae Sampson allegedly called police in Enid to complain that her meth was "laced."

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Man accused of calling in phony murder to avoid ticket during traffic stop

WEST MELBOURNE , Fla., July 25 (UPI) --Julius Lupowitz is facing a third-degree felony charge after he allegedly called in a phony murder to avoid a speeding ticket during a traffic stop.

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Wisconsin man allegedly tells police he robbed bank to avoid going to jail

RICE LAKE, Wis., July 23 (UPI) --Wisconsin man Jesse Sweeter allegedly told police that he robbed a bank so that he would have money to pay court fees to avoid going to jail

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Mississippi man runs into police academy after traffic stop and gets arrested

BILOXI, Miss., July 22 (UPI) --When he was pulled over during a traffic stop, Roger Beasley Jr. took off but was arrested after running into an active police academy training session.

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And finally,it is NOT a good idea to burglarize the Arizona home of the recent WWE World Champion wrestler when he's driving up:

From FoxSports:

"Daniel Bryan may be on the sidelines, but that didn’t prevent him from being a WWE superstar – superhero? -- this week.  The former WWE champion reportedly prevented a burglary Monday night in Phoenix.  Bryan, who is recuperating from a neck surgery, was pulling into a carport when he saw the door to his house was open.  Phoenix police reported that two men ran out of the house and Bryan, real name Brian Danielson, ran down one of them, 22-year-old Cesar Sosa. Sosa and Danielson got into a scrap – not the best move if you were the alleged burglar – and the WWE star detained him until police arrived..."

http://www.foxsports.com/buzzer/story/wwe-s-daniel-bryan-thwarts-attempted-burglary-at-his-home-072514




 
7/23/14 9:14 PM

A bad car dealer,a bad airline & Comcast

Some companies make it very clear they don't value customers.  In the news, three that don't want your business:

Car dealership gives international college student disputed refund in loose change

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., July 23 (UPI) --International college student Irena Mujakovic was seeking a $400 refund from Holiday Motors, and she received a portion of the refund in loose change...After she filed a complaint with the DMV's district office; the dealership was told to give Mujakovic a refund. Holiday Motors complied with the letter of the law, if not the spirit. When Mujakovic went to get her money, she was handed two bags containing mostly pennies and some bills.

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Minnesota man with kids allegedly tossed from Southwest Airlines flight for critical tweets

MINNEAPOLIS, July 23 (UPI) --A Minnesota man claims that a critical tweet got him and his two kids booted off a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Minneapolis on Sunday.Duff Watson is an "A-List" passenger, but when he attempted to priority board with his two children, the gate agent wouldn't let him.He told the agent that he would be "sure to tweet about it," and then he did.When the agent read what he wrote, she had Watson and his children removed from the plane because she felt "threatened" by what he had tweeted."There was no use of profanity, there were no threats made. There was nothing other than, you know, a terse exchange between a customer service agent and a customer," Watson told WCCO. "She said, 'You can't board the plane unless you delete that tweet.'"He deleted the tweet and they were allowed back on.

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And then there is Comcast:

If there’s one guy in the world who knows whether or not he wants to cancel his Comcast service, it’s Ryan Block. The former head of Engadget, founder of GDGT, and now product dude at AOL, Block probably knows exactly why he wants to cancel his Comcast service and, presumably, he’s not going to tell you or a Comcast service rep who refuses to take “No” for an answer.  But when he called to cancel his service over the phone and prepare the return of his cable card, the rep refused in the worst way possible. The pair entered into a Kafka-esque conversation where the only answer to any question asked would have been total submission to the Comcast Cause. The call, which already went on for ten minutes by the time Block decided to record it, is an example of a rep sticking to his script and a customer with the patience of Job (and an understanding of Internet virality) putting up with aural torture in order to show the world how crazy Comcast is.  Listen to the AMAZING phone call at http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/15/tech-blogger-tries-to-cancel-comcast-service-hilarity-ensues/ .




 
7/11/14 6:54 AM

Uncle Sam to draft centenarians for Army

Dying will not help you avoid military service.


Computer bug sends draft notices to 14000 centenarians

Telegraph.co.uk
Thousands of United States centenarians have accidentally been called up to fight for their country, after a computer glitch resulted in draft notices being sent to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897.

Selective Service sends 14K draft notices to families of men born in 1800s
New York Daily News ?
The letters warned the men, likely all dead, that they risked jail if they did not respond to the notice. The bizarre notices was a glitch that began with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The government organization has apologized for the mistake.
 
6/28/14 4:23 PM

Facebook caught playing mind games

This is frankly an appalling abuse by Facebook of its members, and indefensible:

Forbes
 

Facebook is the best human research lab ever. There's no need to get experiment participants to sign pesky consent forms as they've already agreed to the site's data use policy.  recent study shows Facebook playing a whole new level of mind gamery with its guinea pigs users. As first noted by Animal New York, Facebook’s data scientists manipulated the News Feeds of 689,003 users, removing either all of the positive posts or all of the negative posts to see how it affected their moods. If there was a week in January 2012 where you were only seeing photos of dead dogs or incredibly cute babies, you may have been part of the study. Now that the experiment is public, people’s mood about the study itself would best be described as “disturbed.”  The researchers, led by data scientist Adam Kramer, found that emotions were contagious. “When positive expressions were reduced, people produced fewer positive posts and more negative posts; when negative expressions were reduced, the opposite pattern occurred,” according to the paper published by the Facebook research team in the PNAS...So is it okay for Facebook to play mind games with us for science? It’s a cool finding but manipulating unknowing users’ emotional states to get there puts Facebook’s big toe on that creepy line. Facebook’s data use policy — that I’m sure you’ve all read — says  Facebookers’ information will be used “for internal operations, including troubleshooting, data analysis, testing, research and service improvement,” making all users potential experiment subjects. And users know that Facebook’s mysterious algorithms control what they see in their News Feed. But it may come as a surprise to users to see those two things combined like this. When universities conduct studies on people, they have to run them by an ethics board first to get approval — ethics boards that were created because scientists were getting too creepy in their experiments, getting subjects to think they were shocking someone to death in order to study obedience and letting men live with syphilis for study purposes. A 2012 profile of the Facebook data team noted, “ Unlike academic social scientists, Facebook’s employees have a short path from an idea to an experiment on hundreds of millions of people...”

Read the full sickening story at:

 

Comments (1)

  • Jul-3 - Glen (GEAATL)The Washington Post reports today that Facebook arrogantly refused to apologize: "On Wednesday, Facebook’s second-in-command, Sheryl Sandberg, expressed regret over how the company communicated its 2012 mood manipulation study of 700,000 unwitting users, but she did not apologize for conducting the controversial experiment. It’s just what companies do, she said. “This was part of ongoing research companies do to test different products, and that was what it was; it was poorly communicated,” Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, told the Wall Street Journal while travelling in New Delhi. “And for that communication we apologize. We never meant to upset you.” "
6/12/14 10:07 PM

Things never to say to the Judge

Epic rant in Broward Bond Court leads Florida judge to hand down year in jail

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., June 12 (UPI) --Words may not be able to break bones, but they can get you tossed in jail.During an appearance in Broward Bond Court on Thursday, a domestic violence suspect received nearly a year in jail for ranting at a judge after he was denied pre-trial release from jail.Christopher Colon was sentenced to 364 days in jail after Judge John "Jay" Hurley declared him in contempt of court. Hurley denied the 27-year-old pre-trial release on a domestic battery charge and that was when the fun began.Colon told the judge, "Then I'll see you guys again with a lawyer and a lawsuit too," and walked away.The judge instructed Colon to come back and he did -- with a vengeance."And you can go [expletive] yourself too," Colon said. He then repeated that everyone could "suck his [expletive]" a number of times.Colon was then told that he was going to be held in contempt of court if he kept it up."I don't give a [expletive]. Go ahead, I have lawyers," Colon responded. He then started railing about "pussy-ass crackers" trying to put away African-Americans and Hispanics.Colon went on to mention Hitler and laughed as Hurley calmly told him he'd basically be spending the next year in jail. "   http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2014/06/12/Epic-rant-in-Broward-Bond-Court-leads-Florida-judge-to-hand-down-year-in-jail/5731402604328
 
5/27/14 8:22 PM

Racist Judge in Miss.didn't go to school

It's hard to say which part of this story makes Mississippi look worst.   Could it be the fact that not only does Mississippi not require judges to pass law school, but they don't even go to college?  Could it be that after a Mississippi Judge moonlighting as a fake cop (security guard at a flea market) shoved an austistic black youn man to the ground, in front of lots of witnesses, and then called him the "N" word we won;t post here?    Could it be that no one has yet arrested this judge, and no one has issued an emergency order removing him from the bench? 

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Mississippi Judge accused of hitting mentally challenged young man and using the n word...

Salon - ?May 25, 2014?: ...Weisenberger, who is white, is a former law enforcement officer who was elected as a Justice Court judge — a position that in Mississippi does not require more than a high school diploma and six hours of training per year. On May 8, he was witnessed by two vendors, at the Canton Flea Market slapping a young black man on the back of the head and saying “run *n-word*, run.” The two witnesses, sisters Cathy Hendrix and Tammy Westbrook, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, were appalled by the attack...

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From the Jackson MS Clarion-Ledger:

"... the NAACP plans to file complaints with the Judicial Performance Commission, the state attorney general's Vulnerable Adult Unit and the Justice Department.  Under Mississippi law, the only requirement to be elected a Justice Court judge is a high school diploma. After taking office, the judges are required to take up to six hours of training a year.  A 2007 legislative task force concluded that Justice Court judges needed higher degrees, preferably law degrees."  http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2014/05/23/madison-county-judge-accused-racial-abuse/9518717/




A note: my state is Georgia.  Georgia recently changed the law so new municipal judges have to be attorneys (most cities already did that but a few did not, and those handful were grandfathered, but must do 12 hours a year of school).   Some rural Georgia magistrates and probate court judges also are non-lawyers, but this is gradually being diminished by statute (and has ended in urban areas), and they also have to do continuing education.  Georgia changed laws so all probate judges in counties over 96,000 must be lawyers with 7 years experience.  All state, superior, juvenile and appellate judges must be lawyers.

The following states still have a number of non-attorney judges: Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Utah.  

To somewhat compensate for the problem of the small remaining number of non-lawyer magistrates in Georgia, new non-attorney Magistrates must attend two, 40-hour certification courses within 24 months of taking office. All other Magistrates must earn 12 MCJE hours a year.


 

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