Atlanta, January 23, 2017 – Chief Justice P. Harris Hines of the Supreme Court of Georgia will
deliver the annual State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Legislature Wednesday,
Jan. 25 at 11 a.m. in the House Chamber at the Capitol.
As head of the judiciary, the Chief Justice will report that 2017 marks an “historic year of
change” for the third branch of government. Since 1945, the Georgia Supreme Court has had
seven justices. Beginning this month, the highest court now has nine. The growth of the appellate
courts is necessary, Chief Justice Hines will say, “in the face of increasingly complex litigation
and a growth in our state’s population.”
Chief Justice Hines will highlight ongoing criminal justice reform that has made Georgia a
national model. He will ask for the General Assembly’s support of new changes in probation
being recommended by the Council on Criminal Justice Reform. “We have freed up prison beds
for the most hardened, dangerous felons,” he will say. “We now want to do the same with
probationers and free up the limited resources of the Department of Community Supervision so it
can focus on the highest-risk offenders.”
As a priority, the Chief Justice plans to bring more attention to the problem of modest income,
working-class people who cannot afford legal representation, resulting in the growing number of
people who are representing themselves. “At one end of the scale, people of means can afford to
hire lawyers; at the other end, very poor people often qualify for legal aid services,” he will say.
“But working class citizens of quite modest means…are too often caught in the middle – earning
too much to qualify for legal aid but not enough to hire attorneys.”
Media will receive an embargoed copy of the speech at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The speech will be
live streamed at www.gpb.org. Media interested in obtaining a copy of the address should
contact Keocia Howard at Georgia Power Broadcasting (GPB) to request a DVD. Please e-mail
your request to Keocia at email@example.com.