Claudia Beck, clerk of court for Cobb County Juvenile Court, said a new digital video recording system now in use
preserves a clearer picture of what occurs during hearings. Previously, those wanting to review juvenile hearings only had the official transcript and cassette recordings to fall back on.
“It gives you a much better idea of what’s actually happening in the case,” Beck said, citing the “gunshot” court officials saw in an early demonstration of the equipment. Cobb County Juvenile Court is the first judicial system in the county to implement digital recording of hearings.
Every courtroom in the Juvenile Court building was fitted with multiple microphones and cameras last year.
In addition to preserving hearings on DVDs, judges and select court personnel can watch proceedings live on their personal computers. A database also allows them to call up past court actions for review.
Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Schuster was presiding judge of Juvenile Court when he implemented the system. He embraced the idea after seeing a demonstration of the equipment at a judge’s conference and talking to officials who are using digital recording in Fulton County Juvenile Courts.
If a person comes to the judge and claims they did not say what was in the written record, the digital record makes the matter much easier to resolve, he noted.
“I could call up and re-listen to anything I want on my PC at my desk,” Schuster said. “We can watch right now what [they] did on the stand.”
As legal record keeping standards are different for Superior Court, Schuster said a similar system might not work there, but further research would be required.
“It’s something I’m going to suggest we can look into,” he said, noting the system could be very compatible with traffic court.
The digital equipment came after Juvenile Court was going to have to replace the outdated cassette recording system.
With county Information Services handling technical specifications and bidding, Juvenile Court added the digital system without having to increase its budget.
Janice Walker, who has worked as a court clerk for 14 years, said in the old system she had to keep a watchful eye in order to quickly replace or turn over cassettes without missing any of the hearings.
Clerks also had to constantly check to make sure the cassettes were recording.
“With the new system, it’s just a click of the button,” Walker said.
Judicial Administrative Supervisor Susan Marler said the ease of DVDs make archiving and backups a simpler process. She added there is talk of using playbacks of hearings as a training tool for court personnel.
“We love it,” Marler said. “We’re very happy with it.” Beck said she has already had a few officials from neighboring counties wanting to take a look at the system.
“It’s pretty amazing ... I’m not real knowledgeable about technology, but it seems this is a whole lot better than using a cassette tape,” Beck said.
Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens was recently recognized by Georgia Trend magazine as one of the top 100 Most Influential Georgians at its annual luncheon.
“It is a great honor for our county, and would not be possible without the support of the Board of Commissioners, the county manager and our fantastic employees,” Olens said.
The roster featured distinguished men and women from all over the state who have wielded their power and influence, positively affecting the lives of Georgians.
According to the magazine, Olens’ influence reaches far beyond the borders of Cobb County as he is the chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).
He is vice-chair of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s Quality Growth Task Force and was recently named to the National Association of Counties’ Transportation Steering Committee. Olens a
lso serves on the Board of Directors of Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs.
“When I read the paper, I always look to see what’s going on in Cobb County,” Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin said. She has worked with Olens on many regional issues and serves with him on the ARC.
As the awards were handed out, Franklin, who was late for several scheduled meetings, said, “I’m staying till Sam gets his award.”
Other top 100 honorees included Senator Saxby Chambliss, Franklin, Attorney General Thurbert Baker, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Chancellor Tom Meredith of the University System of Georgia and Dr. Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control.
One of east Cobb’s most influential residents, Sen. Johnny Isakson was recognized as the 2005 Georgian of the Year.
Tom Cousins, founder and longtime CEO of Cousins Properties Inc., and the University of Georgia’s Athletic Director Emeritus Vince Dooley were inducted to the Most Influential Georgians Hall of Fame.
All honorees were featured in the January edition of the magazine. Cobb County voters re-elected Olens to chair the Board of Commissioners in November 2004. He previously served as chair for two years and as the District 3 Commissioner.
Before taking public office, Olens led the East Cobb Civic Association as President from 1994 to 1997. The Cobb County Chamber of Commerce named him East Cobb Citizen of the Year for 1997. Olens is married and has two children.