State Rep. Chuck Efstration (R-Dacula)
February 3, 2014 to February 7, 2014 (Legislative Days 15 through 19)
State of the Judiciary Address
This week, Georgia Supreme Court Justice Hugh Thompson addressed a joint-assembly of the State House and Senate for the annual State of the Judiciary address. In his speech, Justice Thompson addressed the General Assembly’s work to pass Governor Deal’s criminal justice reform proposals. Such measures have already provided substantial cost-savings to the state by increasing the number of accountability courts and modifying statutory sentences for certain criminal offenses.
This week, I attended and addressed several committee hearings. On Wednesday at 8:00 a.m., I attended the House Insurance Committee meeting to review several proposals pending before the General Assembly. On Thursday at 8:30 a.m., I served on the Juvenile Justice subcommittee examining adequate representation by the State and the defense in matters of juvenile delinquency. Additionally, I presented by bill, HB 770, to the full committee of Judiciary Non-Civil on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with media headlines about violent home invasions in metro Atlanta and all of Georgia. Residents of House District 104 and Gwinnett County know of these crimes where armed perpetrators enter occupied homes to commit violent offenses. To the surprise of many, existing burglary law provides the same sentences to offenders regardless of whether the home is occupied. In an effort to isolate the most serious of offenses and close a known loophole in the burglary statute, I introduced HB 770 to create a new offense of Home Invasion. This measure is supported by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council and the Atlanta Police Department, and the bill was favorably reported from subcommittee. Although representatives from the criminal defense bar did not attend the subcommittee hearing for the bill, I was happy to discuss it with them and address their concerns. Consistent with the Governor’s criminal justice reforms, I believe this bill will allow for fair sentences in cases of property crime while deterring and punishing those that put lives at risk in dangerous home invasions. This session, I will continue to work to keep citizens safe and protect the rights of the individual to live free of the threat of harm while in his or her home.
HB 938 and HB 939
I am a firm believer in the importance of an independent judiciary to adhere to the US and Georgia Constitutions and protect the rights of the individual. In this spirit, I introduced two bills this week to make the offices of Chief Magistrate and Probate Judge nonpartisan offices in Gwinnett. These bills follow a growing movement of Georgia counties working toward an independent judiciary that is fair and responsible to the voters. Further, citizens would be able to cast votes for local judges on one ballot, ensuring across-the-board judicial accountability. I appreciate the bipartisan support that these bills have received so far, and I look forward to working for passage of this important legislation.
It is a true honor to represent the citizens of House District 104 in the State House of Representatives. If I may ever assist you with an issue, or if you have input for proposed legislation, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.