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Articles Posted in State Bar of Georgia

As a member of the Executive Committee of the State Bar of Georgia, I am proud that our Executive Committee makes a concerted effort to get outside of Atlanta and meet our fellow Georgia Bar members in the four corners of the state. Last week’s meeting in Thomasville, Thomas County, Georgia is a prime example of this. We enjoyed lunch first with many members of the local Thomas County Bar , which is part of the Southern Judicial Circuit. We met at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, which is a lovely location. The President of the Thomas County Bar Association, Christopher Rodd, was our host for the evening and for the tour of the new Thomas County Courthouse, which is not yet open for business but will be a spectacular venue. It is always a treat for me to meet members of the State Bar from across the state, who, but for my involvement in the State Bar of Georgia, I would likely never have the opportunity to meet. The theme that keeps coming through in these meetings in varied locales is this: the lawyers who comprise the State Bar of Georgia are honorable, dedicated leaders of their communities, who care about justice being served, who care about the less fortunate and who care about the criminal and civil judicial systems in Georgia and the stewardship of those two sacred systems. It is my honor to meet and come to know these lawyers and to discuss the issues they face in their communities that are worlds apart from Atlanta.

Below is a letter from Bryan Cavan, President of the State Bar of Georgia, another honorable lawyer, regarding our wonderful meeting in Thomasville.

Letter to the Editor – November 19, 2009

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I am extremely happy to announce I was elected to the Georgia State Bar Executive Committee on Saturday, June 19 during the Annual Meeting of the State Bar at Amelia Island Plantation, Florida. The State Bar of Georgia is comprised of approximately 40,000 lawyers. The Board of Governors, on which I have served since 2002, consists of 150 of those lawyers who have been elected by their respective constituents to represent them on bar matters. The Executive Committee of the Georgia State Bar is comprised of 14 State Bar members also elected by the lawyers of the State of Georgia. So it is an absolute honor to have been chosen by my peers and colleagues to represent them on the Georgia State Bar Executive Committee. I look forward to serving and to continung to protect the rights of Georgia citizens by keeping our precious Georgia Civil Justice System’s promise of Justice For All.

Below is a short press release issued by the President of Georgia Trial Lawyers Association about my election to the Executive Committee:

Friends:

As you may know, I am a member of the State Bar of Georgia’s Board of Governors, the governing body over Georgia’s 38,000 lawyers. We, the Board of Governors, recently held our Mid-Year meeting here in Atlanta, and one item on our agenda was the GREAT Plan, HR 900, the new tax plan being proposed by the Speaker of the House, Glenn Richardson, a Republican State Representative from Paulding County. The Georgia Board of Governors voted to express our concern with and opposition to the GREAT plan, as it applies to the taxation of legal services. Because the Speaker has now exempted business-to-business transactions from the
plan’s tax scheme, that means only individual Georgia citizens, not corporations, would have to pay the tax on legal services. Corporations get a free pass, while Georgia would be trying to raise revenue on the backs of individual Georgia citizens, those who can least afford it. How could this possibly comport with the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws? It can’t, but that has often before never been much of an impediment to the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of laws, as evidenced by 2005’s SB3, the so-called “tort reform” bill. Much of SB3 has now been held to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Georgia, and it is only a matter of time before the remaining provisions are also ruled unconstitutional. In the meantime, though, many deserving Georgia citizens have been robbed of justice because of SB3.
I am proud of the action taken by the Georgia Board of Governors expressing opposition to the proposed tax scheme. If there is anyone who will stand up for the individual Georgia citizen, it is the honorable lawyers of the State Bar of Georgia.

Thanks go out to Jay Cook, Immediate Past President of the State Bar of Georgia, for calling a spade a spade when it comes to the complete abdication of responsibility by Corporate America. President Cook’s op-ed piece in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution today tells the truth:American Corporations routinely put profits over people, including Georgia citizens, every day. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mattel, which has recalled more than 20 million dangerous toys this summer alone, has delayed reporting product defects because it finds the reporting rules “unreasonable.” According to The New York Times, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has fined Mattel twice for such delays since 2001. I would venture a guess that many American parents find it “unreasonable” for a company to sell toys containing lead in them, too.

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And that’s just one example out of thousands. Corporate America wants to make millions of dollars on the backs of hard-working Everyday Americans and Everyday Georgians, but also wants a “get out of jail free” card when caught red-handed endangering the public. It has been shown time after the time the only institution that can possibly hold Corporate America responsible is the American Civil Justice System. The Seventh Amendment guarantee to a trial by jury in the United States Constitution is the mechanism by which Everyday Americans can still obtain just a little bit of justice for the abuse heaped on them by Corporate America. Justice for All: It’s a Beautiful Thing.

I attended the 2007 State Bar of Georgia Annual Meeting in Ponte Vedra, Florida last week as a Member of the Board of Governors, Post 36 Atlanta, Georgia. I am happy to report good news for the elections to the Executive Committee of the Georgia State Bar, as the Board of Governors duly elected fellow blogger Ken Shigley from Atlanta, Georgia and fellow Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) member Thomas Stubbs from Decatur, Georgia as Members at Large to the Executive Committee. Both of these outstanding lawyers will serve the Georgia Bar well. They, like I, represent plaintiffs in a vast array of personal injury cases and are always fighting for justice for the underdog in the system. Ken, Thomas and I all share the same beliefs in the inherent value of the Georgia Civil Justice System and we will continue to support it and fight to maintain an independent judiciary, something all Americans agree sets our Nation apart from others. There has been an assault on the independence of the judiciary in last year’s Georgia Supreme Court election and I am proud to say that the Georgia lawyers who believe in the integrity of our Civil Justice System fought it off and helped preserve an independent judiciary in Georgia that is not controlled by special political interests. We should all be proud of that. Justice Carol Hunstein, whose seat on the Supreme Court of Georgia was the target of this politicized assault, was awarded the Tradition of Excellence Award in the Judicial Category by the General Practice and Trial Section. Fellow GTLA member Paul Kilpatrick from Columbus, Georgia, was awarded the Tradition of Excellence Award in the Plaintiffs’ Counsel Category and they both gave inspirational acceptance speeches that emphasized the importance of an independent, non-politicized judiciary.

Much of the credit goes to Immediate Past President Jay Cook, as he led the charge to preserve Georgia’s tradition of an independent judiciary. We can expect our new Georgia Bar President, Gerald Edenfield, from Statesboro, Georgia, to follow in Jay Cook’s footsteps on this very important issue.

Additionally, GTLA members Jeff Bramlett and Lester Tate were elected President Elect and Treasurer respectfully, so I can honestly and happily say the State Bar of Georgia is in good hands for years to come. These gentlemen champion the rights of the everyday Georgia citizens, not mammouth corporations or insurance companies.

The Annual Georgia State Bar Meeting is important to attend for many reasons, including legal education, fellowship and doing the Bar’s work, but attending also reinvigorates us for the heavy fight to preserve the Civil Justice System of Georgia at all costs, because there are those out there, who I would refer to as “The Dismantlers” who would “dismantle” or undo the Civil Justice System and eliminate corporate responsibility for wrongdoing altogether. I pledge to every Georgia citizen I will do my utmost never to allow that to happen.scalesofjustice.jpg

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