Yolanda C. Parker-Smith
Occupation: Senior Attorney, Office of the Public Defender
Previous elected offices held: None
Other community service experience: Gate City Bar Association; Georgia Association Black Women Attorneys; Georgia Association of Women Lawyers; Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Lawyers; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Silver Star; Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, LTS; Principals Advisory Council, DHS; Columbia Drive United Methodist Church, Youth Director ;State Bar of Georgia; State Bar of Florida; Parent Attorney Advocacy Committee; DeKalb NAACP; National Council of Negro Women; University of Florida Alumni Association; University of Florida Black Alumni Association.
What is motivating you to run for this office?
My commitment to justice having grown up in an environment where too often the concept of justice is missing in everyday lives; therefore, I am focused on ensuring that justice is attained by all. Over the years, I have encountered individuals who scoff at the idea that everyone can actually receive justice. Too often, fairness and equality only applied to the rich and powerful. Too often the poor and vulnerable are treated unfairly and with bias. The ideal towards fair and balanced justice motivated me to run to for this office.
What is the biggest issue facing the court system and how will you address it?
Credibility is the biggest issue facing the court system. Unfortunately, people believe that courts base decisions on status. This has undermined the integrity of the courts. Courts should be the one place where citizens can be confident that their issues will be based on objective reasoning and facts and not race, gender or income. If credibility is not addressed, the courts will be viewed as just another partisan institution. I would address this by ensuring that my rulings are based on the law and the facts; thus, restoring the citizens’ confidence.
What strengths and weaknesses have the coronavirus pandemic crisis revealed in the court system?
The coronavirus pandemic crisis has revealed both strengths and weaknesses in the court system. The recent crisis revealed their unwillingness to embrace and implement new and innovative technology. It has also highlighted the dysfunctions of justice, including overcrowding, exorbitant costs, lack of healthcare and advocacy. In the alternative, the pandemic has shown that the courts have the ability and capacity to adapt quickly to change to ensure that certain rights are protected and ensures that due process is not jeopardized. Our justice system has remained true to its duty to be open and accessible in spite of this country’s crisis.