The Georgia General Assembly convened in the House today for its second joint session of the year, after Gov. Brian Kemp’s Jan. 13 State of the State address.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice David Nahmias gave his State of the Judiciary address to the Assembly. It was a first for Nahmias, who was appointed chief justice in July.

He said he would focus only on one topic: the challenges in the judicial system created by the COVID-19 pandemic and how courts have had to change the way they operate. 

“Virtual proceedings are one of the lessons learned during the pandemic that will be used long after it dissipates,” Nahmias told the legislators. “We’ve found that for many proceedings with few participants and limited evidentiary disputes, Zoom hearings can be as effective and far more efficient than traditional proceedings with everyone in a courtroom.” 

Nahmias said trial courts are still struggling to deal with the backlog of cases caused by the pandemic. He compared it to baseball. 

“The Atlanta Braves canceled 102 games during the 2020 baseball season due to COVID," he said. "These games were just canceled forever, not postponed to be resolved like court cases have to be.

"What if those games eventually had to be played and the Braves had to postpone another 102 games from 2020, and another 102 games from 2021?” Nahmias continued. “That’s a 366-game season, and I’m not sure even our World Series champs could handle that. This is the situation some of our courts are facing right now with their overall caseloads.” 

But the chief justice ended on a more upbeat note, saying Georgia’s justice system is weathering this storm, and we will emerge better than we were before.