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DeKalb Magistrate Court launches new Online Dispute Resolution Program

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DeKalb Magistrate Court launches new Online Dispute Resolution Program

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Judge Berryl A. Anderson


DeKalb County, GA — As COVID-19 remains a threat in Georgia, DeKalb County Magistrate Court Chief Judge Berryl A. Anderson continues to implement innovative approaches in protecting the health and safety of the public and her employees, a press release says.

People in DeKalb County now have the opportunity to resolve small claims cases, those with $15,000 or less in dispute, more quickly and efficiently online. Instead of having to go to court, individuals can access the DeKalb County Magistrate Court using their smartphone, tablet, or computer.

The court has extended access to the court 24/7, from anywhere, anytime. The Online Dispute Resolution (“ODR”) program enables persons with small claims cases to settle the matters without taking off work finding childcare, paying for parking, or even leaving their home.

More than 20,000 small claims cases are filed each year in DeKalb Magistrate Court. For each one of these cases, the Uniform Magistrate Court Rules require the parties to attempt a resolution of the dispute.

In the past, a judge would send the parties out into a crowded hallway to discuss settling the dispute before trial. Now, with the current danger from COVID-19, this new program provides a safe method for parties to follow the mandatory Magistrate Rules on discussing settlement.

In another innovation to improve the court system, Chief Judge Anderson and the DeKalb Magistrate Court are partnering with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in the endeavor. This collaboration will enable student volunteers who are State-certified mediators to gain experience in dispute resolution, while simultaneously serving the community. The Court has worked with John Marshall’s Dean, Jace C. Gatewood, and Dr. Bridgette E. Ortega, the Associate Dean of Career Services and Professional Development, in bringing law students into this new initiative. They have been instrumental in making this program a successful partnership. As the program continues, it may expand to become a full-fledged internship for students, the press release says.

Persons with small claims cases in which an answer has been filed will be sent an order notifying them they are required to attempt ODR. They will be given instructions on how to register and asked if a party needs a translator and if so, the required language. If the parties do not settle their case through ODR, the case will be placed on a trial calendar.

For more information, please visit the DeKalb Magistrate website: www.dekalbcountymagistratecourt.com

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