Juvenile Court Operations Update, June 2020

  • Posted on: 19 June 2020
  • By: Juvenile Court ...

The Fulton County Juvenile Court is governed by the Supreme Court of Georgia in the Third Order Extending the Declaration of the Statewide Judicial Emergency to July 12, 2020, issued by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia on June 12, 2020, the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in an Executive Order declaring a Judicial Emergency in Fulton County, issued on March 13, 2020, in accordance with all requirements of the United States Constitution, Georgia Constitution, Georgia Juvenile Code and Georgia Uniform Juvenile Court Rules.

Pursuant to the Statewide Judicial Emergency Order, The Honorable Christopher S. Brasher, Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit has established Guidelines For Expanding In-Person Proceedings for the courts within the Atlanta Judicial Circuit mandating compliance with public health guidance. In accordance with the guidelines, all Juvenile Court personnel have been provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of face masks and will be required to wear face masks at all times while carrying out their public-facing duties and responsibilities. Regular and ongoing sanitization and cleaning will be performed by or under the direction of Fulton County Government.

ALL PERSONS entering the Romae T. Powell Juvenile Justice Center, Fulton County Juvenile Court, will be REQUIRED to wear a face mask or facial covering and will be subject to regular security screening, temperature screening using a no-touch thermometer. Any person who has a confirmed body temperature over 100.4 will be denied entry to the Juvenile Court building and instructed to contact the judge’s chambers or office that they were required to report to so that the hearing or appointment can be rescheduled.

In addition, health screening questions may be asked of those entering the building regarding symptoms of COVID-19 infection and based upon response may also be denied entrance and instructed to contact the judge’s chambers or other destination to reschedule the hearing or appointment.

Adherence to social distancing requirements is essential to maintaining the safety of those around you, as it is recommended that all persons stay at least six feet apart from others who do not reside in the same household. The use of elevators, restrooms, waiting areas, court rooms and other court house space will have a limited capacity in order to minimize the person to person contact that may be had while within the Juvenile Court building.

Vulnerable Persons who are not able to appear for a scheduled hearing will be accommodated by being given the opportunity to access the hearing via video conferencing. Vulnerable persons are defined in accord with public health guidelines and the judicial emergency as an individual over age 65 and individuals with serious underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune systems are compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer or other conditions. Vulnerable Persons should contact (404) 612-4402 or (404) 612-4419 for assistance and/or additional information.

The Fulton County Juvenile Court will conduct essential hearings, including Preliminary Protective Hearings (PPH) and Detention Hearings for detained youth and children/youth who have been removed from the custody of their parents/legal guardians. Detention Hearings will be calendared on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays pursuant to the 2020 Order of Business and PPH's will be calendared at 2:00 pm on Mondays and 9:00 am on Thursdays; these hearings will be conducted via video conference in accordance with Rule 12.2 of the Uniform Rules of Juvenile Court and the Temporary Order Clarifying/Amending Juvenile Court Video Conferencing Rules as issued by the Supreme Court of Georgia on March 31, 2020. This hearing schedule will continue until the Judicial Emergency Order ends or upon further order of the Court.

Judges will preside over the Detention Hearings and PPH's on a rotating schedule and may physically be in the court for such hearings. All other parties are expected to participate in Detention and PPH hearings via video-conference or teleconference. If a child, parent, legal guardian or caregiver does not have adequate equipment, telephone or other device to access the virtual hearings, access will be provided to the virtual hearings upon contacting the Fulton County Juvenile Court at (404) 612-4402 or (404) 612-4419. In the event, the judge is presiding remotely over a video-conference, notice shall be given that a proceeding will occur wholly by remote video-conference.

Essential hearings (other than Detention or PPH) are any matter that would affect the actual liberty interest of the party or must be heard to prevent actual harm to any individual and shall be scheduled in accordance with the existing provisions of the Georgia Juvenile Code and in accordance with the Order of Business, and shall be conducted while following the additional requirements of each individual appearing in person doing so with a mask or facial covering, use hand sanitizer upon entering and upon leaving the courtroom, in compliance with the public health guidelines followed by this court.

Non-essential hearings shall be conducted by video or teleconferencing. Parties shall receive notice of the access required for video or teleconference hearing by contacting the Clerk of Court for each matter calendared. Attorneys may contact the chambers of the judge assigned to their case with questions.

The Fulton County Sheriff’s Office shall direct DFCS Case Managers, attorneys, parties, and any individuals who appear at the court in person seeking public access to essential hearings or non-essential hearings may gain access to the hearing, by contacting the Intake Unit at (404) 612-4419 and following the directives as provided.

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office will direct private citizens who appear at the court in person for other legal business to the Receptionist's Desk in the lobby of the Fulton County Juvenile Court or to contact (404) 612-4419, prior to entering any other department of the court.

The Intake Unit
The Intake Office is open to the public for limited filings during the hours of 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, until further notice. The Intake Unit operates on a 24 hour basis.

Notice Regarding Electronic Filing: Private Attorneys, Court Appointed Attorneys and Pro-Se Litigants may file pleadings and other legal documents electronically via the Clerk's Office email address: fcjc.clerk@fultoncountyga.gov. ** Please contact 404-613-4663 or (404) 612-4419 for additional information on submitting documents or pleadings electronically.**

Probation Services
All probation officers are available via telephone and are managing their caseloads at the courthouse on a staggered work schedule. For more information, please contact Cassandra Hines, Director of Probation Services, at cassandra.hines@fultoncountyga.gov or Nefertete.Amon-Ra@fultoncountyga.gov, (404) 613-4539.

Behavioral Health
The Behavioral Health Unit is managing their caseloads at the courthouse on a staggered work schedule and is available to assist families in connecting with providers, addressing psychiatric emergencies (if a child is a danger to self/others) and supporting youth/families on its Mental Health Caseload. Listed below are important numbers for families in crisis:

GA Crisis/Access Helpline: 800-715-4225
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255
Child Protective Services: 855-422-4453
Hughes Spalding: 404-785-5437
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

For more information regarding the Fulton County Juvenile Behavioral Health Unit, please contact: Shelly Spizuoco, Director of Behavioral Health Services at: Shelly.spizuoco@fultoncountyga.gov or (404) 613-4637.

The CHINS Unit will continue to provide case management services for ungovernable, truancy, educational neglect and runaway cases. New referrals will be accepted from Intake via email to miriam.kirby@fultoncountyga.gov and will be assigned to CHINS coordinators. CHINS cases that require more intensive consultation will be referred to the Behavioral Health Unit after assessment by CHINS coordinators.