January 2020 Newsletter

GCBA President 2019-2020
President's Corner
By Donald Lee   

Happy New Year!  I sincerely hope that you all feel refreshed and ready to tackle 2020.  Sunday, January 25th, is the Lunar New Year (celebrated by many East Asian countries).  2020 is the Year of the Rat!  If you hark back to your last memory of a paper placemat featuring a Chinese Zodiac from your local Chinese restaurant, then you would see that those born in 2020 (or 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, etc.) are optimistic and energetic.  They are generally liked by all others.  They can be a touch frugal.  Female rats can be organized and family-oriented.  Male rats can be clever and flexible to their environment.
We have a couple of events coming up in the next few weeks.  Legislative Day is around the corner, and we are currently adding the finishing touches.  I am looking forward to the membership's opportunity to see what our Gwinnett Delegation is up to this year, and to see some of the ins and outs of a lawmaker's life at the Gold Dome.
Our next event is the bar luncheon on Friday, January 17th, whereby Judge Angela Duncan will be re-introducing herself to us with her new Superior Court robe!  Many members have volunteered positive comments to me about her appointment and I've even heard from some non-attorneys from the community that sing her praises as well.  The latter is certainly noteworthy, as it is sometimes difficult to make a positive lasting effect on citizens with case outcomes.
For those of you that practice business transactional and/or litigation, then it would be prudent to come to the next bar luncheon for our second speaker; Judge Walt Davis, who was appointed by our Governor to be the statewide business court judge.  It'll be a great way to hear firsthand about jurisdictional and procedural requirements and to get your other related questions answered.

Hope to see everyone at the luncheon next week!
January Luncheon
January 17, 2020 at 12pm , at

The 1818 Club
6500 Sugarloaf Pkwy.
Duluth, GA 30097

This month, we present
the Honorable Angela Duncan and
the Honorable Walt Davis
as our guest speakers.

Judge Angela Duncan has worked as a Gwinnett County Magistrate Court judge and Chief Judge for the city of Chamblee's municipal court.  She served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1987 to 1995 and has a law degree from John Marshall Law.  This year she was appointed by Governor Brian Kemp to be Gwinnett County's 11th Superior Court judge.

Judge Walt Davis was nominated by Governor Kemp to lead the new Statewide Business Court that was created through a 2018  constitutional amendment  and codified through legislation earlier this year.  The Georgia House and Senate Judiciary Committees unanimously confirmed Judge Davis in August of this year.  Currently, he serves  as the administrative partner in the Atlanta law firm of Jones Davis, overseeing a wide range of operational and financial matters including securities litigation, shareholder disputes, and corporate governance matters.

An Interview with State Court Judge Shawn Bratton: 
10 Days in South Korea

(All quotations in the article are from Judge Bratton.)

By Donald Lee, President

Many practitioners may not know about Judge Bratton's Taekwondo skills. In fact, the impetus for this trip itself was based on his entire family's affinity for this particular flavor of martial arts.

"I've been trying to go for years having had many Korean clients when I was in private practice and when my local Taekwondo association presented the trip's opportunity, I worked hard on making it happen."

Like many of us that travel, being an attorney and/or judge is something that we can never really dissociate ourselves from and we look for things that may be related to the justice system in the places we visit.

"I had some downtime between training sessions and was able to do some exploring. I was able to tour a large courthouse that had at least 30 floors, speak with a few of the presiding judges working that day and observe a hearing or two as well. I learned that the judges were appointed and not elected. Jury trials are only utilized on criminal cases and that everything is paperless. There is an abundance of courtroom technology for the presentation of evidence."
With the minicomputer cell phones in our hand, travelers are able to navigate other countries with substantial success. For those of you familiar with various apps, and for me personally, popular Korean communication apps, I loved hearing about Judge Bratton's experiences in maneuvering overseas without being able to read Korean.

"Attorney June Lee and businessman Michael Park were very helpful here stateside in helping me to connect with Korean judges. I was able to use KaKao Talk to communicate with some of the judges there in the advanced planning for my trip to the courthouse. When I got to the grounds of the building itself, I used the Google Translate app and superimpose Korean signage through the camera lens and navigate my way around to the different parts of the building."
Some of the best benefits that travel can instill in us is a new sense of perspective. Sometimes it takes the physical relocation/recalibration of our senses to give us a new way to look at our daily life upon return.

"My courthouse experience gave me the perspective of what it must be like when the shoe is on the other foot. People come to GJAC and may not know exactly where to go. It is a good reminder for myself that for the people we serve, all of this can be an intimidating experience."

For those of you wondering, the primary purpose of his trip was for further development of his Taekwondo craft and Judge Bratton successfully passed his Brown Belt test! He also reassures us that the Korean fare here in Gwinnett County is right on par with what one would find in Korea. It is good to know that we are not being served some adulterated version of Korean cuisine.

" Taekwondo was the vehicle that allowed me to fully explore Korea, its heritage, its culture, and legal system.  The ability to have tested for a color belt in Busan, during a typhoon, was really a bonus and something that not many can boast!!  Would I go back for another visit?  In a heartbeat."

Magistrate Court E-Filing Begins January 15, 2020
By order of Chief Magistrate Kristina Hammer Blum, beginning January 15, 2020, the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court will accept electronic filings through the Gwinnett County Clerk of Court's Electronic Filing Portal.  Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 15-10-53, magistrate courts may accept electronic filings in civil, garnishment, distress warrant, dispossessory, foreclosure, abandoned motor vehicle, and all other noncriminal actions. Electronic filings must be filed, signed and served in the form and manner set forth in O.C.G.A. § 15-10-53, a copy of which is posted on the Clerk of Court's website and outside the Magistrate Court Clerk's Office.
Electronic filing in the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court is not mandatory.  Instead, attorneys and self-represented litigants in civil matters will now have the option of filing any claims, pleadings and/or responses through the E-Filing Portal, in person or through the mail.
If you have any questions, please feel free to direct them to Judge Kristina Blum at  [email protected]
Criminal Defense Section Upda te
By Laura Mayfield, GCCDB Communications Officer
We greatly appreciate those who braved the rain to attend the Annual Toyraiser, a collaborative effort between the Gwinnett District Attorney's Office and the Criminal Defense Bar to donate toys to CHOA's patients during the holiday season.  The toy donations brought happiness to many children who spent the holiday season at the hospital.
Please save the date for the Criminal Defense Bar's annual CLE, to be hosted at GJAC on March 27, 2020.
Join the Section!
Interested in joining the section or want to RSVP for a monthly meeting? Please contact section President Richard Armond at [email protected] 
Family Law Section Update

By June Lynn, Section Chair
The next Family Law Section Meeting will be Wednesday January 29, 2020 from 7:30 am to 9:00 am.  Stay tuned for the names of Magistrate Judges who will attend and speak.

On October 30, the Family Law Section held a lunch meeting with speaker Jim Lewis.  Attorney Jim Lewis is currently the Assistant General Counsel with the Georgia Bar Association.  He was a family law attorney for many years before taking his current job prosecuting attorneys on behalf of the State Disciplinary Board.  Mr. Lewis gave attending members a lot of interesting and useful information on how to avoid a bar complaint, especially as it relates to family law cases, and what to do if a bar complaint is filed against you. 

One interesting common thread in many bar complaints is that the attorney should not have taken the case.  Think twice before taking on each client - are you already over extended?  Have you taken too many other cases.  The attorney who can't say no takes too many clients out of a personal desire to help others - to be a hero.  This attorney finds that he or she cannot adequately represent all the clients, so some clients or cases fall through the cracks.  This results in a bar complaint for abandoning a client.

Too many cases are low paying or pro bono, so the attorney is forced to take more cases then they can adequately serve because they have failed to charge clients a reasonable amount for their services.  Possibly, the cases are weak cases with little chance of successful resolution, but the attorney was too weak to tell the client the truth about their case.  The paid and nonpaying clients all receive below par representation.  Do not find yourself in this position.  Regularly review your client docket to ensure you are able to meet your ethical obligations to each client.
Tell clients the truth about their cases.  Withdraw when you should withdraw due to a client's failure to maintain their retainer.  Withdraw when you should withdraw due to a conflict of interest or a conflict exists due to a prior client. Keep your desire to be a hero controlled, so that you do not end up practicing in an area of law where you are not competent. 

Finally, if your mental or physical health impairs your ability to adequately represent your clients, protect yourself by withdrawing and getting the health care that you need.  Attorneys with diminished ability to represent clients due to impaired mental health face serious repercussions including disbarment.  Help is available through many sources, including the confidential Lawyer Assistance Program by using this toll free number 800-327-9631.  The Lawyer Assistance Program can help with stress, depression, family problems, workplace conflicts, and other issues.
Juvenile Law Section Update

by Kelly Kautz, President

Our monthly lunch of the Juvenile Section will be next week Tuesday, January 14 at 11:45 am on the first floor of Juvenile Court (across from the probation department).  The cost to attend is $10 for members and $15 for non-members.  (The cost covers your lunch which will be from Chick-Fil-A, and if you have not yet joined our section then you can  still do so.)
Come join us to learn more from our speaker and to meet and socialize with your fellow Juvenile Court attorneys.   Please RSVP to [email protected] with your attendance and your lunch selection by M onday, January 13, 2020.

Lastly, the Juvenile Section is planning an exciting and inexpensive half-day CLE in the near future.  Be on the lookout for an email with more details coming soon!
Pro Bono Update

Thanks to all the volunteers!

Pro Bono Representation

Michael C. Murphy (3)

Consumer  Law Clinic

Sherri G. Buda

Family Law Information Class

Terri B. O'Neil

Probate Clinic

Lauren A. Bryant
Raymon D. Burns
Dawn C. Deans
Robert W. Hughes Jr.
John M. Miles
Juan Enrique Morales
Terri B. O'Neil
Deana M. Spencer
Robert Mark Stuckey II
Mark your calendar for these upcoming events!
          • Jan. 14, 2020 - Juvenile Section Meeting
          • Jan. 17, 2020 - luncheon
          • Jan. 29, 2020 - Family Law Section Meeting
          • Feb. 21, 2020 - luncheon
          • Mar. 20, 2020 - luncheon
          • Mar. 27, 2020 - GCBA Criminal Defense Section CLE
          • Apr. 17, 2020 - luncheon
          • May 15, 2020 - luncheon 
The Gwinnett County Solicitor-General's Office is seeking recent graduates interested in a position as an Assistant Solicitor-General (prosecuting misdemeanor cases in Gwinnett County State Court and/or Recorder's Court).  Prospective candidates must possess a license with the State Bar of Georgia and should also have good interpersonal skills.

Salary Range: Salary and benefits will be commensurate with experience.

Submit resume and cover letter to:  [email protected]
Former legal assistant with over two decades of experience in a law firm setting is seeking employment.  Previous areas of law include foreclosure, corporate and family law.  Email  us at [email protected] for more information.
Former practicing physician and Emory Law School graduate seeking employment.  Not currently licensed, but can review medical records and perform legal analysis.  Email 
[email protected]   for more information.
Hudson v. State

By Margaret Gettle Washburn, Past President/Editor, and Attorney at Law

In the recent opinion of Hudson v. State, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Gwinnett County Superior Court, Judge Melody Conner, where the Defendant was convicted in a bench trial of aggravated sexual  battery, statutory rape, and aggravated child molestation. He made a motion for new trial, which was denied, and filed his appeal, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress.

Judge Mercier authored the opinion for the Court of Appeals, holding: (1) the officer's statements to the Defendant of an admonishing nature did not render Defendant's confession involuntary, and (2) the officers had probable cause to make a warrantless arrest, and thus, the Defendant's subsequent incriminating statements were not subject to suppression as fruit of an unlawful arrest.

The evidence showed that in November 2015, the mother of a 13-year-old (D. M.) reported to police that she had discovered sexually explicit social media messages exchanged between D. M. and Hudson, who had met online.

The police interviewed D. M., who made statements as to correspondence and sexual contact. She also identified Hudson's picture out of a photographic lineup. The officers went to Hudson's wife's apartment and spotted him running; apprehended him, arrested him, placed him in a patrol car, and read him his rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona.

Thereafter, Hudson made several statements to police; initially denying any inappropriate conduct and asserting that he did not know D. M. This is a portion of the conversation:
"Hudson : Ain't gonna help me neither sir if I go to jail. If I tell you I messed with her like, I'm admitting the guilt.

Officer: At least then I could tell them you cooperated instead of lying to me. Then denying it and them proving that you denied it and lied. They [will] throw the book at you."

Hudson then admitted that he and D. M. had engaged in sexual intercourse, among other sexual acts; however, that D. M. had told him she was 20 years old.

Prior to trial, Hudson moved to suppress his statements to police. The trial court granted the motion in part, excluding any custodial statements Hudson made before he was advised of his Miranda rights, but denied the motion as to statements made after he received the Miranda warnings. The case proceeded to a bench trial on stipulated evidence, and the trial court found Hudson guilty of aggravated sexual battery, statutory rape, and aggravated child molestation. Hudson filed a motion for new trial, which the trial court denied, and this appeal followed.

For the rest of the article, click here!
Judge Angela Duncan sworn in as Gwinnett County's newest Superior Court Judge

By Christine M. Palmer, Esq.

On January 9, 2020, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming Judge Angela D. Duncan as Gwinnett County's newest Superior Court Judge.  Governor Kemp held the ceremony at the State Capitol where he formally announced Judge Duncan's appointment and swore her in giving the Oath of Office.  The event drew a huge crowd, including many judges, attorneys and supporters from the community.  As a member of the Gwinnett County Bar Association, and on behalf of our entire legal community, Welcome Judge Duncan!  We are honored and privileged to have you on the bench.

Gwinnett County D.A. Danny Porter announces 2020 run
(courtesy Tyler Estep at ajc.com)

Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter will run for reelection as a Republican after all.

Porter was first elected as Gwinnett's top prosecutor as a Republican in 1992.  He has kept the GOP affiliation in six uncontested elections since.  

But earlier this year  Porter suggested he could mount his 2020 reelection bid as a Democrat, saying he would run with whichever party gave him the "best chance of success" in a county that's no longer a conservative stronghold.

On Tuesday, Porter said that keeping an "R" next to his name - and using his track record to appeal to voters from both parties - would do just that.  While he reiterated his belief that the district attorney's job should be nonpartisan, he said running as a Democrat would have been "disingenuous."

The decision also means he'll steer clear of a Democratic primary.

"I wanted to avoid the argument about who's the best Democrat," Porter said, "and I wanted to focus the argument ... on who's the best DA."

For the rest of the article, click here!
Don't abbreviate 2020.  It's for your own good.
(courtesy Hameet Kaur at CNN.com)

2020 is finally here, and it's coming with its own set of challenges.

Not only do we have to break the habit of writing 2019, when we really mean 2020, but the dawn of a new decade also creates a unique opportunity for scammers, says Ira Rheingold, executive director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates.

How exactly, you ask?

When the year 2020 is abbreviated on official forms and documents, those looking to exploit unsuspecting people can easily manipulate those numbers and leave people potentially vulnerable to fraud.

For example, a document dated 1/4/20 can easily be changed to 1/4/2021 by adding two numbers at the end.

There are several ways that could pose a problem. Rheingold cited the example of a stale check, or one that was written more than six months or so ago.  If you have an old check lying around that's dated 1/4/20 and someone finds it, they could add "21" to the end of that date, and voila, the check is no longer stale.

For the rest of the article, click here!
Amazon gets $20M incentives package for Gwinnett fulfillment center
(courtesy Tyler Estep at ajc.com)

Tax incentives and infrastructure improvements offered to lure a new Amazon warehouse to Gwinnett County will cost taxpayers about $19.7 million, according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Officials with the Georgia Department of Economic Development on Monday released details of the inducements offered to the e-commerce giant - nearly six months after the project was formally announced, and with construction on the 640,000-square-foot facility already well underway.

The information, requested under Georgia open records law shortly after the project's announcement in July, was released following a brief meeting of the Gwinnett County Development Authority. That authority unanimously approved a $2 million Regional Economic Business Assistance (REBA) grant offered by the state.

Georgia open records law allows government officials to keep information on economic development deals secret until they determine that a binding commitment has been reached.

For the rest of the article, click here!

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