Georgia’s Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) focuses on judicial conduct, often providing Advisory Opinions on the subject. One of those opinions states that courtrooms should be open to the public and that judges may close hearings based on the aspects of individual cases. The Council of State Court Judges challenged the Commission’s 2013 opinion, which was reviewed by Georgia’s Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court examined the JQC’s opinion and took issue with its belief that “[it’s] unconstitutional for judges to allow security personnel to ask people who arrive in court to identify themselves and state their business.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that no court precedents exist that permit or ban this practice, which could potentially put judges in the position of being reprimanded by the JQC. Judges will either protect their courtrooms as they see fit, which may not coincide with the Commission’s suggestion, or they will adhere to the JQC’s opinion, whether they support it or not. The Supreme Court suggested that the JQC reconsider its opinion and claimed that the commission “wandered into a field of law that is unclear and unsettled, something that is beyond its purview.” The Court holds that laws will arise from future litigation to aid in this area.