Boyd Collar Nolen Tuggle & Roddenbery is a pioneer in the use of private courtrooms to resolve civil disputes and family matters. The private courtroom has all the benefits of a fair and formal judicial process without airing a dispute in public. Our practice is headed by partner Cynthia D. Wright, the former chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court. Judge Wright served two decades as a trial court judge and brings those skills to the private courtroom process.
The rules of the private courtroom process can be adjusted by agreement of the parties but generally follow the same procedures as official, public courts with sworn witnesses, rules of evidence, opening statements and closing arguments. As in a public bench trial, the judge makes the decision. Unlike a public trial, the proceeding takes place behind closed doors and doesn’t necessarily leave a public record.
At the beginning of the process, both parties agree to abide by the decision of the judge, and the judgment is formalized with the filing of a consent judgment that reflects the decision or a contract between the parties. Usually, the parties agree upfront that the decision cannot be appealed or further litigated. Testimony, documents and, under some circumstances, even the judgment can remain confidential. There are other cases in which the parties reserve their right to appeal. In those cases, orders and other pleadings are entered on the public record; however, the hearing itself is closed to the public.
While not necessary for every civil dispute or family law matter, the private courtroom offers litigants the benefits of a public trial with the privacy of arbitration. Our attorneys can guide you in assessing whether this innovative process is appropriate for your case.
Courts in Georgia are authorized to appoint Special Masters to assist them in carrying out various duties. Special Masters may be appointed to handle a variety of issues during the pendency of a case, but most often handle discovery disputes. With the explosion of various forms of electronic communication and data, cases may come to a complete halt until a court finds the time to hear and then rule on discoverability issues.
Our Special Masters have the time and expertise to sort through masses of data and make recommendations to the court. By resolving discovery issues promptly and completely, our Private Courtroom cases move toward final resolution efficiently, effectively and judiciously.
For family law matters, the private courtroom keeps sensitive testimony about the couple out of the public record and protects children from the potential consequences of public disclosure of the family’s problems. It also allows quick resolution of matters that might take months or even years in the crowded public courts, thus allowing families to resolve thorny personal issues and move on to their next chapters. Partner Cynthia Wright, a former judge, presided over Fulton County’s family court division for 12 years, where she helped thousands of families through difficult and trying episodes in their lives.
For business litigants, the private courtroom offers the efficiency and privacy of traditional arbitration while allowing the litigants to put forth their best evidence and arguments in a courtroom setting. This is particularly beneficial in high-stakes, complex matters where the litigants want to decide their case before an experienced judge who maintains the rules and decorum of a formal court. Because all court records in Georgia are public and available to inspection by individuals or the press, the private courtroom may also limit exposure of sensitive information that may follow resolution of the matter in a traditional courtroom.