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Why a judge from Macon was honored as Twitter laureate of Georgia

Why Judge Dillard engages people on Twitter

Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, of the Georgia Court of Appeals, talks about why he thinks it is important for judges to interact with the public and promote civic engagement.
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Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, of the Georgia Court of Appeals, talks about why he thinks it is important for judges to interact with the public and promote civic engagement.

Georgia has a Twitter laureate, and he lives in Macon.

Chief Judge Stephen Dillard, of Georgia’s Court of Appeals, was named the Twitter laureate of Georgia by the state House of Representatives on Jan. 18.

“I’m very honored,” Dillard said. “I view it as a recognition of my account being used for good, being used to educate, being used to promote civics, being used to promote civility.”

Dillard was applauded for his use of Twitter to create civic engagement and encourage people to be kind to each other, according to the resolution.

Dillard, also known by his handle @JudgeDillard, has gained more than 15,000 followers on Twitter since starting the account in October 2010.

He said he tries to show people who he is as a judge and as a person.

“When I became a judge, I wanted to make use of the social media platforms to be more accessible and more transparent about what the courts do,” he said. “I think if people are going to vote for me, which they have to do every six years, they oughta know what kind of person I am and what I care about and that I have a life off the bench.”

Dillard said Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) took the lead on the resolution to name Dillard Twitter laureate.

“I did it because I think Chief Judge has an extraordinary influence on social media, which isn’t easy to do,” said Holcomb in a Georgia Public Broadcasting article.

Dillard was appointed to the Court of Appeals on Nov. 1, 2010 by Governor Sonny Perdue, according to the Court of Appeals website. He was sworn in as the 30th Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia on July 1, 2017.

Dillard said when he became a lawyer, judges weren’t as accessible to the public.

“You didn’t really talk to them. They were these almost mythical, you know, figures,” he said. “I always found that a little uncomfortable.”

He said he tries to mentor young lawyers and law school students through Twitter, from giving advice about presenting an oral argument to writing briefs.

“Those things are revolutionary and something that never could have happened years ago when I was coming up,” he said. “I want my constituents and the people I serve to see me engaging in my job and what all that entails and that I take it seriously and that I love it.”

Dillard said he also wants to encourage people to remember that there are real people behind each account.

“That’s part of the purpose of my account is to remind people that every person has inherent dignity and worth even if they hold a viewpoint that you don’t agree with,” he said.

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