Gov. Deal appoints new judges to oversee metro Atlanta's new traffic court

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed four judges to oversee DeKalb County’s newly created traffic court, which is replacing the Recorder’s Court which was abolished amid a long-running scandal. The new judges will handle about 175,000 cases a year.
The new judges in the Traffic Division of DeKalb State Court are Fulton County Deputy District Attorney Shondeana Crews Morris; Sen. Ronald Ramsey Sr., D-Lithonia; Clayton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Brian Ross, and DeKalb Deputy Chief Assistant Solicitor General Keisha Storey.
The DeKalb Recorder’s Court was eradicated by state legislation after being entangled in deplorable legal battles over how it handled probation and traffic violations. Investigations found the court’s practices exploited the poor.
DeKalb County paid out an undisclosed amount to settle a federal lawsuit that found the county jailed indigents who could not afford to pay traffic fines and fees, further subjecting them to exorbitant fees and fines. Moreover, a new federal class action lawsuit accuses the county of trying traffic cases in the court for years, even though it lacked the proper jurisdiction, calling it “a scheme to generate revenue for a cash-strapped local government.”
The Georgia General Assembly in February passed H.B. 300 which abolished the Recorder’s Court with its functions absorbed into DeKalb State Court.
Several changes are being made in Dekalb’s new traffic court, which will operate from the same building as Recorder’s Court on Memorial Drive near Interstate 285, according to a letter from State Court Clerk, Melanie Wilson to the DeKalb Bar Association:

  • Private probation services will no longer be used, and all probation will be supervised by DeKalb State Court probation.
  • Defendants will be be given up to six weeks to pay off fines and fees as a way to avoid being placed on probation.
  • Monitors will be installed in the lobby to display defendants’ names and the courtrooms where they should appear.
  • Once a case is assigned to a judge, it will remain with that judge through disposition.
  • At least nine people will be dedicated to handle customer service phone calls from the public from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m, Monday through Thursday. They can be reached at 404-294-2099.

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