Magistrate Judge, Fulton County
Guardian Ad Litem, Cobb County
Happy Valentine's Day Weekend! It is my honor to introduce you to Judge Andrew Margolis. Andrew serves the people of Fulton County as a Magistrate Judge and is also certified as a Guardian Ad Litem in Cobb County. As a judge, Andrew has handled numerous cases with kids ages 17-19. This age range is difficult because while the kids are legally "adults," their brains are still developing and they are more prone to acting impulsively and irrationally. Andrew has seen many parents face heartbreak over the harsh penalties these children face and is a strong advocate for accountability courts for youthful offenders in the adult court system. As a Guardian ad Litem, Andrew advises the Court in cases involving custody of young children. Andrew explains further: "rather than advocate for one parent or the other, my job is to make recommendations to the Court that protect the best interests of the children involved." He also owns and runs his law firm, The Margolis Legal Group, a firm that handles family law and criminal matters. In his free time, he is a musician and assists his wife, Mindy, in teaching group music classes to preschoolers. As you can see, Andrew is quite busy (to say the least!) serving our community and youth. I know you will find this feature informative and engaging!
"Children need to be educated when they are coming out of the juvenile system that the adult system is focused much more on punishment, and not as much on rehabilitation. I would like to see a special accountability court similar to a drug court for youthful offenders in the adult system. That is to say, a team-based approach that addresses some of the underlying issues related to the teen’s conduct, as well as holding the individual accountable for their conduct."
Q: What is your opinion on the over-incarceration of juveniles in our country? Do you have any ideas for alternative ways to rehabilitate and not punish our youth?
Many court systems are instituting accountability courts, such as drug courts, mental health courts and veterans’ courts. The juvenile court system already emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. But for youthful offenders in the adult system, sometimes the emphasis can be skewed in the other direction. I would like to see a special accountability court similar to a drug court for youthful offenders in the adult system. That is to say, a team-based approach that addresses some of the underlying issues related to the teen’s conduct, as well as holding the individual accountable for their conduct.
Q: As a Magistrate Judge in Fulton County, what types of issues do you see parents of youth and teenagers facing? What types of solutions do you propose?
As a Magistrate Judge, I don’t meet many juveniles accused of crimes because those cases go to juvenile court, which is a completely different system. What I do see are seventeen, eighteen and nineteen year old kids who are arrested for the first time as adults, already having had some experience with the juvenile system. They are expecting similar treatment in Superior Court because of their age. They and their parents are shocked when they realize they may be facing a very stiff mandatory minimum prison sentence. I have seen many parents having to deal with that kind of heartbreak. Children need to be educated when they are coming out of the juvenile system that the adult system is focused much more on punishment, and not as much on rehabilitation. I also think that youthful offenders with no adult record should be treated differently within the adult system.
Q: What advice do you have for parents of teenagers?
Two things immediately come to mind. First, parents need to educate their teens that choices have consequences. Yes, good kids can make a bad choice once in a while, but that bad choice could result in a suspended driver’s license, or probation in juvenile court. Teens who don’t learn from their mistakes will find themselves facing progressively worse consequences every time there is an incident. If your teen is 17 years of age or older, they will end up in the adult criminal justice system, which could mean probation, time in the county jail, prison, or some combination of all of those. Keep in mind also that for certain serious charges (such as armed robbery, for example), the age of your teen does not matter; the law provides that your child will be treated as an adult. Second, your teen should know both what his/her rights are when dealing with police, and how to act around police. Your kids should know that they always have an absolute right not to talk to the police, and not to answer any questions. However they should always be respectful to police. Don’t argue with the officer, and don’t run. At least when it comes to minor issues, that could mean the difference between being sent home with a warning and being taken to juvenile detention.
Q: What is one thing your colleagues or other professionals don't know about you?
Most people don’t know that I’m also a professional musician. I play keys, drums, bass, and sing. You can find me in live music venues all over the state playing and singing the blues and classic rock.
(You can check out Andrew in action here!)
You can contact Andrew directly:
The Margolis Legal Group, P.C.
1800 Peachtree Street, Suite 300
Atlanta, Georgia 30309
And at his websites:
Kathryn Boortz has a passion for working with youth and their families. She is the founder of Boortz Law, a law firm that focuses on juvenile defense.