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Clayton judge president of state-wide council

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Clayton County Juvenile Court Judge Steven C. Teske has been elected president of the Georgia Council of Juvenile Court Judges.

Teske, who has been a juvenile court judge since 1999, was sworn in this week in front of 150 judges from around the state. His term begins on June 1, but he already has begun working on his administration's agenda.

"One of the things I want to focus on is the quality of life of juvenile justices," Teske said. "One of my first acts as president was to create a retirement/salary subcommittee to improve and address retirement issues and the salary issues of juvenile judges."

Teske said since 2000, juvenile judges are required to enter into the state's judicial retirement system, but are currently excluded from some of the retirement benefits. The exclusions seem to have been inadvertent, Teske said. He believes the issues were overlooked when the system was expanded to include juvenile judges in the system with district attorneys, solicitor generals, state court judges and superior court judges. The subcommittee will be working on recommended changes Teske can take to the legislature.

After being sworn in, Teske created a committee to review the model juvenile legal code put together by the state's bar association, and will be examined by legislators later this year. The model code suggests some dramatic changes to the current juvenile laws, including changing who decides a juvenile should be tried as an adult. The council committee of juvenile judges will review the recommendations and advise lawmakers.

Another challenge Teske expects to deal with is that 16 juvenile courts in the state will implement a "court improvement initiative for delinquency." Teske said the 16 courts will test-run some new ideas, meet in a summit to assess their effectiveness, then recommend whether there should be wider implementation.

Teske's oath was administered by Clayton County Juvenile Judge K. Van Banke, with his friend and past council president, Peggy Walker, standing by. Before becoming president, Teske served the council as chair of the delinquency committee, chair of the court improvement initiative for delinquency, treasurer, secretary, vice president and president-elect.