Atlanta, GA — The Supreme Court of Georgia’s Commission on Dispute Resolution has a new Chairperson, Hon. M. Cindy Morris, Superior Court, Conasauga Judicial Circuit, following outgoing Chair Hon. Jane C. Barwick, Superior Court of Fulton County. The Passing of the Gavel ceremony, held during the February 3 meeting, celebrated the passage of leadership via virtual gavel – a sign of the times.
Justice John J. Ellington administered the oath to incoming Chairperson Judge Morris. Justice Ellington joked that the Commission on Dispute Resolution was seeing a change in color guard, from the “Bulldog” (University of Georgia) red and black of Judge Barwick (Chair 2019-2021) & Judge Charles Auslander (Chair 2012-2018) to the “Double Bear” (Mercer University) orange and black of Judge Morris. “Being a judge requires you to do a lot of different things, some of which are not always fun,” said Justice Ellington, “but swearing in Judge Morris is one of those fun things.”
While the leadership gavel passed on February 3 was virtual, the one Judge M. Cindy Morris uses every day in her courtroom has a unique story that she holds dear; her gavel was especially made for her by L.D. Brooks, a World War II veteran and former bailiff in Murray County (part of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit). When the Supreme Court of Georgia first appointed Judge Morris to the Commission on Dispute Resolution in 2018, the then-Chair Judge Charles E. Auslander III remarked on her accomplishment as a servant leader. The gavel she holds in court is symbolic of the powerful impact of this leadership on those around her.
Judge Jane C. Barwick may be stepping down as Chairperson, but she will continue to serve as a member of the Commission and celebrates the leadership change: “Judge Cindy Morris, with her wealth of experience, is not only what you want in a Superior Court judge, but also as a leader and a friend. To lift her up as our Chair moving forward and, most importantly, as our friend, is a great honor.
The Supreme Court established the Commission on Dispute Resolution to administer a statewide comprehensive Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program; oversee the development and ensure the quality of all court programs; develop guidelines and approve court programs; develop criteria for training and qualifications of neutrals; and establish standards of conduct for neutrals. This year, the Supreme Court ordered a new chair be added to this Commission to ensure a delegate from court ADR programs. The 20-member Commission is comprised of representatives of all appellate and trial courts, representatives of the General Assembly and the State Bar of Georgia, approved trainers and registered neutrals, a court ADR program director, and other professionals with an interest in dispute resolution. For more information on the Commission, please click here.