CHATSWORTH — Murray County Sole Commissioner Greg Hogan and the congregation of First Baptist Church of Chatsworth have entered into a one-year agreement that allows the Superior Courts of Murray County to utilize the church’s facility as a jury assembly area on the Mondays of Superior Court jury trial weeks.
The Murray County Courthouse, built in 1916, does not have a dedicated space to accommodate the number of jurors that are required to be summoned to court during the jury selection process. This lack of space has long been a problem, but that problem has become more pronounced in the era of COVID-19-related social distancing needs.
The Superior Court judges and Hogan approached the leadership of First Baptist Church, whose facility is directly across the street from the Murray County Courthouse, in early March and a temporary agreement was reached to allow the courts to use the church’s sanctuary as a jury assembly area as an emergency measure. Jurors assembled in the sanctuary and were called across the street to the courtroom as needed in smaller panels.
This worked so well during the March and June trial weeks, and so many positive comments were received from jurors and court personnel alike, that the judges and Hogan sought to extend the use of the church’s facility for another year, especially in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases locally.
Georgia law requires that any court function must be in a building that is either county-owned or county-leased, so this necessitated a one-year lease, to which the county and First Baptist Church have agreed, for the use of the church building for jury assembly on the Mondays of jury trial weeks for the next year.
The Superior Court judges of the Conasauga Judicial Circuit thank Pastor Mark Carr, the Deacon Board of First Baptist Church of Chatsworth, Hogan and County Manager Tommy Parker for their tireless efforts to facilitate this agreement.
They especially thank the congregation of First Baptist Church of Chatsworth who have volunteered the use of their facility rent-free as a jury assembly area. Their willingness to open their doors to help keep the jurors of this community safe is greatly appreciated.
The judges are:
• Chief Superior Court Judge William Boyett
• Superior Court Judge Scott Minter
• Superior Court Judge Cindy Morris
• Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks