LAKELAND, GA (WALB) - As the president of Georgia's Council of Probate Court Judges, Cook County Probate Judge Chase Daugherty is trying to help increase the accuracy of disposition reportings in DUI cases in probate courts across the state.
The Council of Probate Court Judges recently conducted a study of DUI disposition reportings from across the state and found that many probate judges were not reporting their the dispositions to the Georgia Crime Information Center.
"My review, and the Council of Probate Judges review, is that it does not show any intentional misconception of negligence on the part of our council or our members," said Daugherty.
Daugherty said the reason for the lack of reporting is likely due to the fact that many probate judges, especially in smaller areas, often have to act as more than just a probate judge and as such it can be hard for probate judges to keep up with the reporting. "In some of [the] smaller counties, the probate judge serves as a magistrate judge, the supervisor of elections, custodian of vital records, they also handle traffic and other civil matters," explained Daugherty.
But, Daugherty said the CPCJ is taking steps to correct the issue of the lack of proper reporting in DUI dispositions. "We've met with the judicial qualifications commission, we're encouraging our judges to review the cannons of judicial conduct to ensure there's no improprieties. We have a group of judges who have volunteered their services and their staff services to assist other judges," said Daugherty.
The CPCJ also launched their "READY" campaign in April. Ready stands for Respect, Education, Assemble, Demonstrate, Yield, and is a program designed to help train probate judges on how to use the Georgia Crime Information Center database to report DUI dispositions. As part of this, Daugherty said the CPCJ will continue to push for prosecutors in every probate court case in which the respective district attorney's office is not able to prosecute the case.
"To keep judges from getting into vicarious situations," Daugherty said, "we're continuing our push to get prosecutors in the probate courts."
He added that it's important that the issue of the lack of reporting is corrected as soon as possible. "Any time we can have the ability to have all the information necessary for people to be able to process cases effectively, for employers to be able to determine information they need to, that's why it's important that we clear this up. So you have a track record of that case from beginning to end."
For more information about the "READY" campaign, visit www.georgiacourts.org/probate/.