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Key discusses Troup Juvenile Court

Judge Michael Key discussed the state of Troup County’s Juvenile Court at Tuesday morning’s LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce Early Bird Breakfast.

Key discussed how the court has overcome a large case load. During the height of the pandemic, Key said juvenile court slowed for two weeks, but the court’s staff did not get a break.

“We had all of our hearings, and we never missed a time frame. We’ve done it all almost virtually,” Key said.

Key recently brought up the stress on the county’s juvenile court system during the April 29 Troup County Board of Commissioners meeting. During that meeting, he requested funds to hire additional lawyers.

“We probably have more dependency cases pending now than we’ve had since I’ve been on the bench,” Key said. “We operate a highly-specialized family court … Judicial courts get more oversight responsibilities to make sure [the Division of Family & Children Services] and other judicial businesses do business the right way.” 

The situation isn’t all dark, he noted, as the cooperation between the court and other community partners— DFCS, the school system and the authorities — assist the court in its goal of keeping families together and separating them as a last result.

“Troup County is recognized as a pioneer in that area,” Key said.

Technological advances within the court have allowed families to stay in touch during the pandemic. Thanks to a recent grant through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Key said children referred through the courts are also receiving mental health therapy when they need it. 

“The families we serve, our youth, our parents and child dependency cases … these are good people who did not wake up and say ‘I want to be a drug addict or I want to have debilitating mental health issues,” Key said. “It’s our responsibility to make sure, whatever situation exists, to be conscious [of that]… and do the right thing.”