The Georgia House of Representatives has named a local appeals court judge the state's first Twitter laureate.
House Resolution 35 recognizes Chief Judge Stephen Louis A. Dillard for his positive use of social media as a tool of civic engagement. The proposal was sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators who wanted to recognize Dillard for his presence on social media platforms of promoting civility, kindness and compassion.
As a tool to educate, Dillard uses his platform to provide greater transparency and accessibility to what is happening in the courts and how and why decisions are made. As a public servant, Dillard says judges and courts have a duty to be transparent.
“I did it because I think Chief Judge has an extraordinary influence on social media, which isn’t easy to do,” said Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), one of the resolution's sponsors.
In an interview with the Judicial Council of Georgia, Dillard shared how he believes Twitter is not only a tool that can be used to speak with citizens but also the platform allows for practiced lawyers and professionals to mentor law students and young lawyers, asking and reminding them to be civil and kind. In his interactions, he said he tries to help students by providing oral argument tips, writing advice and provides insight into different aspects of the appellate world.
Stay cool. Let the situation speak for itself. If it’s truly an outrageous position, the judges should be with you. And if they aren’t, an emotional appeal isn’t going to help. That said, there’s nothing wrong with showing that you appreciate the real-world consequences at issue. https://t.co/61RVdCtjnS
— Chief Judge Dillard (@JudgeDillard) January 16, 2019
Dillard, a native of Macon, was appointed to the Court of Appeals on Nov. 1, 2010, by Gov. Sonny Perdue.
During his 2017 swearing-in as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia, several of Dillard's thousands of Twitter followers convened alongside family and colleagues, overflowing the courtrooms in the building.
Dillard believes in letting voters see judges as humans so they can become invested in the person behind the bench, which is why he also remains active on his social media platform about his personal life. Holcomb said he “looks forward to his admonition on Friday afternoons, where he tells everyone to have a good weekend and to be good to each other, which is a good message that needs to be shared.”