February 2017
President's Corner

We have several exciting events planned in the month of February!  

The Gwinnett Bar will host a Gwinnett County General Practice CLE on February 17 from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the 1818 Club.  The lunch portion of the CLE will be our monthly Bar luncheon, featuring a presentation on the Georgia Evidence Code by Ron Carlson and Mike Carlson.  Attend the Bar Lunch only if you don't need the CLE!

Each month, we strive to offer engaging, beneficial events for members of the Gwinnett Bar Association.  We hope to see you on  February 17!

Gwinnett Bar February Luncheon with Ron & Mike Carlson
Join us on February 17 from noon to 1pm at the 1818 Club for our monthly luncheon.  This month, we welcome Professor Ron Carlson and Cobb ADA Mike Carlson for a presentation about the Georgia Evidence Code.  We will also hear from our "Judge of the Month" for February, the Honorable Chris Ballar, Judge of the Probate Court of Gwinnett County.  We look forward to seeing you for our lunch meeting!
February Bar Luncheon 

Speakers: Professor Ron Carlson and Cobb County Assistant District Attorney, Mike Carlson



This month, we welcome Professor Ron Carlson (pictured left) and Cobb ADA Mike Carlson (pictured right) for a presentation about the Georgia Evidence Code.  We will also hear from our "Judge of the Month" for February, the Honorable Chris Ballar, Judge of the Probate Court of Gwinnett County.  We look forward to seeing you for our lunch meeting!

Judge of the Month: The Honorable Chris Ballar, Judge of the Probate Court of Gwinnett County (pictured left)

Private Probation Company Issues Revisited:  
by Margaret Gettle Washburn, Sr. Contributing Editor, and James Rodatus, AOC

In follow up to one of my articles in the December 2014 GCBA Newsletter, I have found that Private Probation Companies continue to be in the news.  In a recent article in the AJC, entitled "Private probation company settles lawsuits for more than $2 million," posted on Thursday, February 02, 2017, by Rhonda Cook, who covers the courts, it was disclosed that Sentinel Offender Services would pay out over $2 million to settle multiple law suits and it is anticipated that next week, "12 Georgians, all of them poor, will receive $1.5 million to end a years-long lawsuit against the state's largest private probation provider over illegally throwing them in jail for not paying supervision fees and fines for traffic offenses or minor crimes like public intoxication".

The article also states: "Georgia Supreme court ruled decades ago that people couldn't be jailed simply because they could not afford to pay a fine. In 2015, the state Legislature put the court ruling into law, saying people who can't pay should be given an alternative punishment, like community service - not jailed...In all, private probation companies in Georgia reported collecting $15.7 million in fees during the first nine months of last year.  Those probation fees have been the issue in the multiple lawsuits."  

Last month, the Southern Center for Human Rights settled for $130,000 with Sentinel over a practice in its Cleveland office of requiring probationers to submit to drug-testing that was not court ordered.  Georgia leads the nation in the number of people on probation for felonies and misdemeanors, as well as for traffic offenses and city ordinance violations, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. This research includes probationers supervised by a government or a private company".

News & Events
Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. and GGC Foundation Event

Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. is hosting a reception with the GGC Foundation in their Duluth Office from 4:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday , February 17.  Previous GGC-GCBA scholarship contributors are invited, as well as all attorneys who would like to give or pledge at this time.  If you are able to attend the reception, please RSVP to Matt Reeves at mreeves@atclawfirm.com or (770) 822-0900 ext. 178.   In the event that you would like to contribute but are unable to attend the reception, click here for the donation coupon.
CLE: Gwinnett County General Practice CLE

The Gwinnett County Bar Association is pleased to announce that we are co-sponsoring a CLE on Friday, February 17, 2017, from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.  Matt Reeves, a GCBA past president, and current Member of Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C. in Duluth is presiding.  The Topic is Gwinnett County General Practice CLE.  Presenters will include The Honorable Warren Davis, Rachel Lazarus, Roberta Cooper, Donald Lee, and Dodie Sachs.  We will also have a panel on the Georgia Court of Appeals, moderated by the Honorable William M. Ray, II.  Click here for more information.  

We will still have our regularly scheduled February GCBA Luncheon from 11:45 to 1:00, where Professors Ron and Mike Carlson are presenting on Georgia Evidence.  Please register attend the whole CLE at www.iclega.org or www.gwinnettbar.com.
Consumer Law & Probate Clinic Volunteers Needed!

Thank You to Mock Trial Volunteers!

Thank you to all the members of the Bar Association who helped with the Gwinnett High School Mock Trial Regional Competition on January 27 and 28. More than 50 attorneys volunteered their time to judge and evaluate the eight high school teams that competed in this year's competition. In the end, Wesleyan won a closely contested championship round over Duluth. Both those schools, along with Norcross, the third-place team, will compete in the District Competition on February 18. The eight District champions will then go on to compete at the State Finals at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center on March 4. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Jon Setzer (jon.setzer@gwinnettcounty.com).

Attorney Volunteers Needed for Georgia Academic Decathlon on February 24th 

Gwinnett's Berkmar High School is hosting this year's Georgia Academic Decathlon on Friday, February 24th. This year's theme is World War II, and the Decathlon still needs around 50 volunteers to judge and interview student competitors. Volunteers will attend training at 4:00 p.m. before the competition. The competition will begin at 6:15 and conclude around 8:30. All volunteers will be provided a complimentary dinner.

If you are interested in volunteering for this event, visit www.pagefoundation.org/GADvolunteer for more information and to sign up online.
Helping Those Affected by South Georgia Storms
By Patrick T. O'Connor, President, State Bar of Georgia

I am calling on all members of the State Bar of Georgia to unite behind our fellow citizens and offer any assistance you can to the residents of South Georgia and other areas of our state that were affected by this natural disaster - including any lawyers, judges, court personnel, paralegals and other members of the legal community and their families. 

If you'd like to use your legal skills to help disaster survivors, you can register with the Pro Bono Resource Center. Use this link to volunteer to help. By volunteering, you can provide advice, brief representation or other legal assistance on a limited scope basis (See Bar Rule 1.2) via telephone or by spending a few hours at a disaster assistance center (if a federal disaster is declared) or at your local legal aid office.

As a reminder, the State Bar's SOLACE program exists to allow our members to reach out in meaningful and compassionate ways to others in the legal community in times of need caused by events and situations like this. If you or anyone you know in the legal community are in need of assistance, please contact us immediately at SOLACE@gabar.org or by calling Bonne Cella at 229-387-0446.

Divorce Decree Set Aside After Almost Five Years; 
Wright v. Young, 297 Ga. 683, 777 S.E.2d 475 (2015)
Willie Wright and Kenya Young were divorced on October 26, 2010. Wright v. Young, 297 Ga. 683 (2015). Willie Wright stated to the Court that he first learned of the final divorce decree on October 2, 2014; almost four years later.  Id. Upon learning of the divorce decree, he filed a Motion to Set Aside, which the trial court denied.  Id. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Georgia vacated the judgment and remanded the case, on the grounds that proper notice was not given as provided by O.C.G.A. 15-6-21 (c).

O.C.G.A. 15-6-21 (c) provides that it is the duty of the trial judge to file his or her decision with the clerk of court and to notify the attorney(s) of the losing party of his or her decision.  Id. While this code section appears to apply only to decisions made on motions, the Courts have extended it to apply to final judgments as well. Id.

The Court said that if on remand the trial court finds that notice was not given, the trial court must grant the motion to set aside the final judgment, re-enter the final judgment, and allow the losing party thirty days from the date the judgment was re-entered to appeal the decision. Wright citing Kendall v. Peach State Machinery, Inc., 215 Ga.App. 633(2), 451 S.E.2d 810 (1994).  See also, Woods v. Savannah Restaurant Corporation, 267 Ga.App. 387, 599 S.E.2d 338 (2004). See also Cambron v. Canal Insurance Company, 246 Ga. 147(1), 269 S.E.2d 426 (1980).

In this case, Willie Wright and Kenya Young were divorced on October 26, 2010, and the divorce decree was set aside on September 15, 2015; nearly five years later.  Setting aside the divorce decree nearly five years later, solely because the trial court could not prove that the divorce decree was sent to the Defendant, can have serious consequences.  It is not clear from the opinion whether Kenya Young had remarried or had children after the divorce decree was issued in 2010.  A divorce which was valid when granted, and on which she had every reason to rely.

From a practical standpoint, anytime you are drafting a proposed Order, always indicate after the signature lines to whom the Order should be sent and where it should be delivered.  You should provide the e-mail or US Mail address where the Order should be sent once issued.  
Upcoming Law Day Events
How can YOU get involved in Law Day this year?

Sip & Swine BBQ Festival benefiting the Gwinnett Children's Shelter- March 3 & 4, 2017
  • Serve beer and wine to festival-goers with wristbands
  • Time slots available- volunteer, then join in on the fun!
  • Click Here for Application
Gwinnett County Schools Educational Outreach- throughout Spring Semester 2017
  • Teach a class about the 14th Amendment! (Don't sweat it, we have a pre-planned classroom exercise for you to follow)
  • Speak at a local Career Day
  • Already volunteering at a local school? Reach out to us so that we can recognize you in our Law Day Campaign!
We need donations to help fund:
  • High school scholarships
  • Law Day Awards and Prizes for Student Participants
  • Law Day Awards and Prizes to deserving members of our legal and law enforcement community
We can't do it without your help! All sponsors will receive recognition during our Law Day Campaign. Sponsors at the Amicus Level ($500) will also receive 4 free tickets to the Law Day Banquet. Sponsors Advocate Level ($1,000) will be receive 8 free tickets and a reserved table for 8 at the Law Day Banquet. Corporate Sponsors at the Amicus or Advocate Level will also receive 10 minutes at an upcoming GCBA Event to promote their product or service.
We are now taking nominations for the following awards:
  • Law Enforcement Officer of the Year-given to recognize an outstanding Gwinnett County Law Enforcement Officer
  • Award of Merit - given to recognize an outstanding GCBA member
  • Liberty Bell Award - established more than 40 years ago to recognize a non-lawyer who has served our community in better understanding the rule of law
  • Law Day Judge's Reception on Thursday, April 27, 2017, from 11:45 to 1:00 p.m. at the GJAC Auditorium
  • Law Day Banquet on Friday, April 28, 2017, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Buford Community Center
  • Formal Invitations & Details To Follow for both Events
Email Applications/Interest to Danielle Britt Mays at dmays@cbjblawfirm.com or call 770-271-2991.
Court Of Appeals Clarifies That the Only Proper Grounds to Deny A Name Change Is If The Petitioner Is Seeking To Change His Or Her Name Due To A Fraudulent Purpose
A16A1770. In Re Feldhaus. A17A0041. In Re Baumert.
Two transgendered men in Columbia County sought to change their birth names to match their gender identities.  These cases were consolidated on appeal to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. One petitioner sought a name change to a first name that was gender neutral and a middle name that was gender specific. The trial court had found that a name change to a gender neutral name would be permitted, but since the middle name requested was not gender neutral, the court denied the name change petition. The other petitioner sought a name change to a first and middle name that were both gender specific, and the trial court denied the petition.

(Andrew Baumert, left, and Rowan Feldhaus, right. 
Photo credit to the Georgia Voice)

The Columbia County trial court denied both petitions on grounds including that permitting the name changes would confuse and mislead the public and that was a type of fraud.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals examined the statutes regarding name change, and prior case precedent on the grounds that name changes were granted or denied.  "The Supreme Court of Georgia has long held, moreover, that 'in the absence of a statute or judicial adjudication to the contrary, there is nothing in the law prohibiting a person from taking or assuming another name, so long as he does not assume a name for the purpose of defrauding other persons through a mistake of identity.'"  In Re Feldhaus. A16A1770 and In Re Baumert A17A0041, citing Fulghum v. Paul, 229 Ga. 463, 192 S.E.2d 376, (1972). 

The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court's rulings and directed the trial court to enter orders changing the petitioner's names as pled for.
Drug Court Graduation March 1st 

The Gwinnett County Drug Treatment Court program invites you to join us in honoring and celebrating our most recent Drug Court Graduates. The Gwinnett Drug Court Graduation will be held on Wednesday, March 1, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046. Refreshments will be served immediately following the Graduation ceremony. We hope to see you there!

How to End a Representation Ethically

Sometimes situations arise during the course of a legal representation for which the safest and best decision an attorney can make is to terminate the attorney-client relationship. Knowing how and when to do so may not only prevent further deterioration of the relationship, but it may even help reduce the risk of a bar complaint or legal malpractice claim.

In seeking to end a representation or withdraw as counsel of record, attorneys should be aware that the practical steps of withdrawal usually vary somewhat between litigation and nonlitigation matters. For example, for litigation matters in many jurisdictions, the court is required to approve the withdrawal, subject to satisfaction of various notice and filing requirements. By contrast, in nonlitigation matters, withdrawal may often be achieved by asking for and receiving the client's consent or even by simply terminating the relationship by letter.

No matter the nature of the representation, however, withdrawal implicates attorneys' ethical obligations under the rules of professional conduct. Below are some considerations inherent in ending a troublesome representation.

Milich Minute

In an auto accident case, an eyewitness would testify that defendant negligently failed to slow down in the heavy rain. 
Defense objects that  this violates the "ultimate issue rule". 

Which is the best answer?
  1. Overruled.  The "ultimate issue rule" was abolished in the new Evidence Code.
  2. Overruled.  The witness's opinion is beyond the ken of the jurors.
  3. Sustained.  Opinions phrased in legal terms are not helpful to the jury.
  4. Both 2 and 3
Click here for the answer!

12 Milich

Click to purchase his book here!
Criminal Defense Update

The Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Bar hosted our monthly meeting on January 6 at the Gwinnett County Detention Center.  The meeting featured Robert Keller, board member of the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Tripp Powers, the Coordinating Chief Community Supervision Officer from felony probation.  The meeting was sponsored by First Citizens Bank.  The meeting was well attended and received by our members.  

Upcoming Events
Monthly meeting on March 6, 2017 at 12 p.m.- GCCDB will hold its monthly meeting at the Gwinnett County Detention Center.  The speakers at the meeting are to be decided.

Kindly RSVP if you plan to attend to section President Constancia Carter at constancia@cuadrapatel.com.
Annual CLE on March 30, 31- GCCDB will hold its annual CLE at the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center.  This criminal defense oriented CLE will be eligible for 8 general hours, 1 ethics hour, 1 professionalism hour, and 3 trial practice hours of CLE credit.  This CLE will satisfy all required Gwinnett indigent defense requirements for one year.  The program will be offered at a very low cost to our members.  Save the date!  

Join the Section
Interested in joining the section or need more information? Please contact Constancia Carter at constancia@cuadrapatel.com.
Estate Planning and Probate Update

The Estate Planning and Probate Section (EPPS) brings you 2 excellent opportunities for giving in 2017 - sign up now!

Opportunity #1: First Responders Wills Clinic
Who should volunteer: Attorneys with or without estate planning experience (note: there is a short training session in advance for all attorneys, and attorneys work in pairs which always include at least one experienced estate planner)
What: Provide free basic estate planning documents for first responders and their spouses (event organized by the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia & the Gwinnett County Bar Association EPPS)
Where: Andersen, Tate & Carr, P.C., Duluth, Georgia
When: Saturday, February 25, 2017 from 9:00am - 2:00pm (3-hour volunteer blocks)
Why: To thank our first responders!

Opportunity #2: Probate Court Pro Bono Clinic
Who should volunteer: Attorneys with probate and/or guardianship experience (need not be an expert, but some experience is required to assist attendees)
What: Provide guidance to pro se petitioners with their filings in probate court
Where: Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center
When: Third Thursday of each month from 1:30pm - 4:30pm  
Why: To help our citizens and the Probate Court in processing petitions more efficiently and effectively
How: Please contact Elizabeth Strupe to sign up for the Probate Court Pro Bono Clinic
Save the Date: Please save the date for the following EPPS lunch meetings at 12:00pm (speaker and location details to follow):
March 14, 2017
May 9, 2017
July 11, 2017
Note that you do not have to be a member of the section to attend the meetings, but if you are interested in joining the section, or simply being added to the section email list, please contact Melody Glouton or Lindsey Cambardella
Family Law Section Update: 
Next Meeting Information

The Family Law Section of the Gwinnett Bar will have the next meeting in February of 2017. The location and time will remain the same, 12:00 noon at La Cazuela Mexican Restaurant, 179 West Crogan Street, located at in downtown, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046.

Upcoming Events:  (The last Wednesday of every other month - even months)
In This Issue
February Bar Details

Friday, February 17th 
from 12 - 1 pm 
at the 1818 Club
6500 Sugarloaf Parkway


Duluth, GA 30097

Gwinnett County Bar Association | | warren.davis@gwinnettcounty.com | http://www.gcba.org

P.O.Box 576

Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Gwinnett County Bar Association | P.O.Box 576 | Lawrenceville | GA | 30046