On June 4th, 2015, Georgia Lord of Georgia Lord Law was elected to the Board of the DeKalb Bar Family Law Section. The Section regularly presents educational programs on Family Law to attorneys who practice in DeKalb County. It meets monthly at the Historic DeKalb County Courthouse, in downtown Decatur, and periodically hosts more extensive continuing legal education seminars or other special events. During the June 4th election meeting, Lord thanked her fellow family law attorneys for selecting her to this leadership post and said she was looking forward to planning many training programs for the group.
The program for the September meeting of the DeKalb Bar Family Law Section featured Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol W. Hunstein. Justice Hunstein both reminisced about her eight years on the DeKalb bench and shared some practical tips for practitioners litigating in the Georgia Supreme Court.
Justice Hunstein reported that she had particularly enjoyed working alongside DeKalb Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger, who continues to be a dear friend of hers. She was the first woman to serve on the DeKalb Superior Court, and this initially created a few memorable moments. She said that one such moment occurred shortly before she was sworn in. The court administrator at the time called her to discuss the problems they were having obtaining a suitable robe in time for her swearing-in. He asked whether she would find it acceptable to use a cheaply made robe on a temporary basis, until a suitable, custom made robe could be prepared. She responded, “Yes, as long as it is pink.” There was a long silence before he realized that she was not serious.
For more about judges wearing pink robes, click Oklahoma Judges Wear Pink Robes to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness. For more about how judicial robes are usually made, click Where do judges get their robes? A factory in Chatsworth, usually.
The Justice finds her work on the Georgia Supreme Court interesting and challenging. She encouraged those present to be collegial with their opposing counsel: for instance, shake hands in a professional manner at the conclusion of oral argument. The Justices notice this and appreciate it! Justice Hunstein also noted that counsel need to respond directly and clearly to questions. The current bench of the Georgia Supreme Court tends to be active, Justice Hunstein cautioned, so you may feel as though you are under cross-examination, but you must nonetheless be prepared to defend your theory as succinctly as possible — but with an appropriately respectful demeanor. Justice Hunstein advised that one way to make a poor impression during oral argument is to mispronounce a Justice’s name. [Hint: Hunstein = HUN stin (with a long i) and Nahmias = NAH me ahz]
Justice Hunstein encouraged attorneys to exercise great care in drafting settlement agreements: they should attempt to anticipate and provide for every possible contingency. She also noted that a lot of unnecessary litigation arises from poor documentation regarding the application of the child support guidelines. In closing, Justice Hunstein remarked that because she spent so much time “judging” on the bench, she is reluctant to sit in judgment of individuals she encounters in other situations.
Other judges attending this meeting were Judge Christopher J. McFadden of the Georgia Court of Appeals and DeKalb Superior Court Judges Clarence Seeliger, Mark Scott, and J.P. Boulee. Judge Seeliger shared the news that he will be running for reelection in 2016.