Boyd Collar Nolen & Tuggle is a pioneer in the use of private courtrooms to resolve civil disputes and family matters. The private courtroom has all the benefits of a fair and formal judicial process without airing a dispute in public. Our practice is headed by partner Cynthia D. Wright, the former chief judge of the Fulton County Superior Court. Judge Wright served two decades as a trial court judge and brings those skills to the private courtroom process.
The rules of the private courtroom process can be adjusted by agreement of the parties but generally follow the same procedures as official, public courts with sworn witnesses, rules of evidence, opening statements and closing arguments. As in a public bench trial, the judge makes the decision. Unlike a public trial, the proceeding takes place behind closed doors and doesn’t necessarily leave a public record.
At the beginning of the process, both parties agree to abide by the decision of the judge, and the judgment is formalized with the filing of a consent judgment that reflects the decision or a contract between the parties. Usually, the parties agree upfront that the decision cannot be appealed or further litigated. Testimony, documents and, under some circumstances, even the judgment can remain confidential. There are other cases in which the parties reserve their right to appeal. In those cases, orders and other pleadings are entered on the public record; however, the hearing itself is closed to the public.
While not necessary for every civil dispute or family law matter, the private courtroom offers litigants the benefits of a public trial with the privacy of arbitration. Our attorneys can guide you in assessing whether this innovative process is appropriate for your case.