Hello and Welcome! by Melissa Gifford Hise
I've desired to do a blog for some time now but have not been completely sure if I would have enough topics for an ongoing blog. The "law" and the "justice system" are over-arching topics but what specifically is there to say? I often found myself frustrated by the general lack of knowledge that the public/clients have about the system and the law. Perhaps some educational pieces about different aspects of the law. During my recent campaign, my attitude was, I don't want to say changed, because it wasn't as much changed as it was enhanced or compounded.
On the campaign trail, I found many people who have a lot of experience with the system. Often, those people had a lot of ideas (good and bad) about the system that I'll talk about in future blogs. I also found a lot of people who were not as knowledgeable but deeply concerned about what the system does and what it is. And, then there were those people that knew nothing and didn’t really care because it did not affect them. I found myself feeling apprehensive for these folks because when they inevitably have contact with the system, they are going to be blindsided, at a minimum.
As a lawyer I feel very strongly that we must have a good, strong justice system. There are many reasons for this including that our Constitution calls for it. Our entire government structure relies upon the three branches to keep everything in balance. (I’ll discuss why you should read the Constitution at some point). But in examining our court system, I am concerned with the way we do things, why we do things, the lack of accountability on every level and the utter absence of demand for successful outcomes. We are completely satisfied with people going to court repetitively with no satisfying or permanent resolution to their problem. This dissatisfaction with our system and my knowledge of how to effectively form an outcomes-based program caused me to run for Superior Court Judge in the first place.
Each of our courts (not just Superior Court) are in drastic need of overhaul. Those of us who work in the system are keenly aware of this. We, system workers, have a duty to make positive change happen. But it is not our sole responsibility.
As I said on the campaign trail, Governor Deal put justice reform as a main topic of his tenure and many great things have come from it. We are beginning to see this in our circuit. For many of the reforms to be truly effective, we, as a community, need to get informed and get involved. There are things that every day citizens can do to positively effect change. It is the responsibility of EVERY citizen to make sure our system and each branch of government operates the way it is supposed to. Like I said earlier, I shake my head at those people who think they never need to care about our justice system. Those folks will be the parents of the good kid who becomes a drug addict arrested for theft and possession. Those folks will be the spouses who are getting blindsided with a divorce and a custody fight. Those folks will be the children who are fighting with their siblings over their parent’s estate. Those folks will be the ones asked to testify in their church friend’s landline dispute and they really don’t want to. Those folks will be the jurors who are expected to decide a person’s fate.
I hope that you will find this blog educational and a call to action for you to get involved.