Back in January of this year, a new judge started handling all the DUI cases in Atlanta Municipal Court. When you are arrested for DUI in Atlanta Georgia, your case will be assigned to Judge Christopher Ward, in Courtroom 5A. This year has seen very positive changes in his courtroom. No place is perfect, however Atlanta Municipal Court is no longer as unpleasant for attorneys and the accused.
Judge Ward implemented a case management plan recommended to the Court by a study ordered by the City of Atlanta. When I wrote about the plan back in January, I didn't completely understand how it would be implemented. Now that almost a year has passed, I can report to the readers of this article exactly what to expect in Judge Ward's court.
To begin with, if you are arrested within the City limits of Atlanta, your case will have it's initial arraignment on the following Monday morning. If you hire an Atlanta DUI Lawyer, he can appear on your behalf. This does not violate your bond because when an attorney appears for you, it is as if you appeared yourself.
If you appear without counsel, you will be asked to return in a few weeks with an attorney, or if you are indigent, you can apply for a public defender. Indigent does not mean it would be inconvenient for you to hire your own lawyer. There are income guidelines that apply to you when you seek to have the pubic defender handle your case. Judge Ward will decide whether you meet those guidelines.
Once you have hired a DUI Lawyer in Atlanta, he can make the next appearance for you. That appearance is called an "inquiry," and it means exactly what it is called. The judge will inquire as to the status of the case and whether the prosecutor has provided defense counsel copies of the incident report and video of the arrest. The purpose is to encourage both sides to move towards a resolution of the case.
The next step is called "final plea." At the final plea, the defendant must appear with his attorney. This hearing takes place approximately 60 days from the arrest. The purpose of the "final plea" calendar is to let the judge know the prosecutor's intentions as well as the intentions of the defense. Sometimes, the case will not be ready at the first "final plea" calendar. In that case, and for good cause shown, the case can be set at a second "final plea" calendar.
The ultimate goal is for all cases to be resolved within 6 months of the arrest and so far, the system has worked remarkably well. In the past, Atlanta DUI Lawyers would find it extremely difficult to resolve cases due to problems getting arrest reports and videos and court could be unpleasant because everyone's time was wasted. Those problems appear to have been solved.
Now the cases are moving along smoother and the judge is polite and courteous to everyone; lawyers and defendants alike. There is no doubt there have been positive changes made in Atlanta Municipal Court!