Video Conferencing Court Option
For certain cases and certain hearings, the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County now offers Video Conferencing Court options. These matters can be handled via your device and a videoconferencing app called Starleaf. Court hearings via Starleaf can be joined from your computer, mobile device, or a video system. You don’t need a Starleaf account to join hearings that you’re invited to. You do need an email invitation that provides the information you need to join the hearing.
All video conferencing hearings in the Municipal Court of Athens-Clarke County require both working video and audio connections and cannot be joined solely by audio. Please make sure you have sufficient bandwidth for a video call. Appropriate attire is mandatory for any appearance in Court. Dress for your Starleaf hearing as if you were attending your hearing in the courtroom. Please make sure you are in a quiet environment when making your video call so there are no distractions during the hearing. Do not join the Starleaf hearing while in a moving vehicle.
If you have an attorney representing you, your request for a Video Conferencing Court option needs to be made through your attorney.
The following hearings and cases are eligible for the Video Conferencing Court option:
Arraignment – Not Guilty and request for trial
If you wish to plead not guilty and request a trial in your case, that can be handled for any type of case via Webex. You may request a non-jury (bench) trial which will be scheduled for a later date in Municipal Court. If you are charged with a state misdemeanor violation, you have a right to a jury trial. If you want a jury trial, your case will be transferred from Municipal Court to the State Court of Athens-Clarke County. When you request a jury trial, you will receive written notice of your new court date (which will be an initial appearance, not a trial date) in State Court. If you change your mind and decide you do not want a trial, you may change your plea before your trial date. If you fail to attend the trial as scheduled, or any other court date that may be scheduled, you will be subject to arrest and assessment of fees and court costs.
Arraignment - Resolution of case by plea of Guilty or Nolo Contendere
A resolution of your case through a plea of Guilty and/or Nolo Contendere is available via Webex in most cases. To negotiate a plea agreement in your case you would need to contact the Assistant Solicitor-General, a misdemeanor prosecutor, assigned to Municipal Court. Janna Landreth is the prosecutor assigned to Municipal Court. Since Municipal Court is held every morning from Monday through Thursday, it’s often easier to reach Ms. Landreth in the afternoons or on Fridays, when court would not be in session. The phone number to the Solicitor’s Office is 706-613-3215, but Ms. Landreth prefers email communication. Ms. Landreth can be reached via email at email@example.com.
If there is a plea worked out in your case and you want to enter your plea via Video Conferencing Court, you will need to fill out your plea forms in advance and either mail them back to the Court, or scan and email them back to the Court. If you are mailing your plea forms, you must mail them at least 10 days prior to your court date. If you are emailing scans of your plea forms they must be emailed at least 72 hours prior to your court date. A plea via Video Conferencing Court in not an option for cases in which a driver’s license suspension is necessary (for example a DUI plea). The plea forms can be downloaded online below.
Contested motions and Bench Trials will be eligible for Video Conferencing Court on a case by case basis and only with the consent of all parties.
If you do not have access to a compatible device, and/or do not have sufficient bandwidth to access a Starleaf hearing on your own, there are devices available for public use at the Athens-Clarke County Courthouse. This way you can still access the Video Conferencing Court option but only enter the public areas of the courthouse and limit your contact with other individuals in the courtroom itself.
If you are interested in participating in the Video Conferencing Court option, please contact the Municipal Court Clerk’s office ASAP to start the process. The phone number to the Clerk’s Office is 706-613-3690, but email communication is preferred. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name, complete mailing address, and your case number if possible.