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Judge pleased with legislation
Background check item awaits governor
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Forsyth County News


House Bill 850 didn’t make it out of the state Senate before the 2012 legislative session ended.

But that’s OK with Forsyth County Probate Court Judge Lynwood “Woody” Jordan Jr., who helped author the bill, because the language still made it through the legislative process.

“It didn’t make any difference because what happened was they did a little bit of horse trading there at the end,” Jordan said. “There was another bill, House Bill 257, which was on the floor. And Renee Unterman, a senator from Gwinnett, who was handling that bill for me in the Senate, offered an amendment which included my language. That was added and it passed.

“The name of the game is to go ahead and get it through … it doesn’t really matter how it gets there, just that it does.”

If signed by the governor, Jordan’s portion of the bill would allow judges to request national background checks on individuals seeking to be guardians or conservators.

Currently, probate judges can request a background check on them. That check, however, covers only criminal history in Georgia.

The law would apply to those seeking to become guardians of children and incapacitated adults, as well as those seeking to be conservators for children and incapacitated adults.

By including conservators, Jordan said a national background check can make sure a person doesn’t have a past of fraud or swindling people from inheritance.

The measure won’t require background checks, just approval for judges to add the practice to their arsenal to protect children and incapacitated adults.

““I was happy to see that the language from HB 850 was amended onto HB 247 in the Senate on the final day of session,” said District 23 state Rep. Mark Hamilton, R-Cumming. “This added language will add another line of defense to protect some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The language was inspired by a probate court south of Atlanta, where a guardian’s criminal record came back with no history because other states weren’t searched.

Jordan said he’s confident Gov. Nathan Deal will sign the measure.

“I saw the governor. I was talking to him three or four weeks ago,” Jordan said. “I mentioned it and he said he shouldn’t have any problem, so hopefully it will go through.”

Because the state got preliminary approval from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, judges can begin using national searches immediately after Deal signs the measure.

“We’re ready to go,” Jordan said. “We’re already tapped into the national database with the weapons carry licenses, so it’s nothing new. We’re just getting more information for a different purpose.”