According to The Atlanta Voice, in January 2018, the city’s Municipal Court began operating and in March 2018 the city’s police services officially began. The city is the first city in American history where every criminal justice department head is an African American woman.
Chief of Police Sheila Rogers is a career law enforcement professional with more than twenty-six years experience. She is the city’s first police chief and one of a few women police chief around the country.
Chief Judge Tiffany Carter Sellers is a University of Georgia law school graduate and the city’s first chief judge. She was selected through a panel of experienced judges from the surrounding community.
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Interesting. How many black women are in leadership positions at CNN Atlanta (also in Georgia)? https://t.co/uHrpt9ThcX
— Soledad O’Brien (@soledadobrien) June 23, 2018
Judge Sellers hired and appointed the court administrator, Lakesiya Cofield, and the city’s first chief court clerk, Ramona Howard.
Also appointed to represent the two equally important components of any criminal justice system were two attorneys, City Solicitor LaDawn “LBJ” Jones, who prosecutes the cases and City Public Defender Viveca Famber Powell, who defends those accused of crimes.
Together, this #blackgirlmagic makes up all the portions of the criminal justice system in the new city.
“Our goal is to ensure justice for everyone,” Sellers said. “However, as African American women we are sensitive to the history of criminal justice in our country. We want to be an example of how to do things right.”
The hope is to restore faith in the justice system for the citizens who have had less than stellar experiences in other courts.
“One of the primary purposes of laws is to protect citizens and the city,” Jones explained. “You can do that without sending everyone to jail or enforce high fees. Most people do better when they know better.”
According to the report, “another progressive component of the court system is the appointment of the public defender. In most jurisdictions, a public defender is only assigned after someone proves they cannot afford a private attorney. In South Fulton, everyone that appears before the court has an opportunity to receive appointed counsel prior to making a decision on their case.”
“Although we handle misdemeanors, the cases can have serious long-term effects on the person accused,” Powell said. “Having an opportunity to advise clients ensures justice is received by all.”
“In the City of South Fulton’s justice system, African Americans are far less likely to be arrested, prosecuted, or detained in custody because of incidents like those seen in recent news.”