This year's national Law Day theme, "Law in the 21st Century: Enduring Traditions, Emerging Challenges," is particularly important to the legal community, because as much as our nation and state has changed in the past twelve months, so too has the law that we use to protect our nation. Despite all of these changes to our national and local community, we still must respect and abide by the legal traditions that are the bedrock of our nation.
The Law Day celebration involves projects and programs for some twelve months prior to the official Law Day program. This year the main program will be on Tuesday, April 20, at The Bluffs in Canton. The Blue Ridge Bar Association will partner with the Rotary Club of Canton for the annual Law Day luncheon.
This year's keynote speaker is the Honorable P. Harris Hines, who is a Georgia Supreme Court Justice. Justice Hines will deliver a speech on how today's legal community, although steeped in tradition, has been presented numerous challenges. While some of these can be resolved through traditional methods, many have not been dealt with in the past. The courts must take a new look into how to best resolve these new issues. As a Justice sitting on Georgia's highest court, Justice Hines is in an excellent position to review these challenges and determine how best to resolve them.
In addition to the keynote speech, the Blue Ridge Bar Association will be presenting awards for selfless service involving or contributing to the legal process and the rule of law.
The first is the annual Liberty Bell Award, the most prestigious award given by lawyers to a non-lawyer. The purpose of the award is to recognize community service which has strengthened the American system of freedom under law. Selection for this award by the Bar's Liberty Bell Committee is based on the American Bar Association's criteria and is presented to a member of the community who has contributed in a substantial way to the rule of law in activities outside of his or her regular employment.
The second award, which presented periodically, not annually, by the Bar Association, is the Col. Robert S. "Bob" Stubbs II Distinguished Service Award. This award is a recognition given to a non-lawyer for outstanding dedication to a profession within the judicial and legal system. In particular it recognizes outstanding assistance to attorneys, citizens, members of juries, judges, and the public, such assistance having notably facilitated the functioning of the courts.
In addition to recognizing those who selflessly serve the rule of law in our community, members of the Blue Ridge Bar Association honor Law Day by engaging in a number of community service activities or legal programs.
One activity which has already taken place is the Fairy Tale Mock Trial, a program which has been carried out in conjunction with one or more local elementary school classes for many years. This year, Hickory Flat fifth-graders composed the jury and audience for two mock trials put on by members of the legal community. Some of the participants included Cherokee County Judges John Summer, Keith Wood, and John Cline, and attorneys Chris Bishop, Michael Chisolm, Patricia Ball, Jenny Meyers, Lee Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Davis, Marjorie Musgrave, Parri Abbott, Lara Schuster, Sarah Shearouse, Jenifer Carreras, Paul Ghanouni, Adriana de la Torriente, Will Carlan, Susan Stanton, Nedra Wick and Barbara Nye.
The Cherokee County Law Library also celebrates Law Day. Each year volunteers provide an open house coffee for those who work in the legal community plus local elected officials. This year's open house will take place from 8:30-11 a.m. on May 5.
The Bar also promotes Law Day by providing an opportunity for a legal forum on topics of interest. Such occasion took place at one of the Bar's first meetings of this Bar year, with Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harold Melton speaking. Justice Melton addressed tensions among the judicial, executive and legislative branches of government and fielded questions concerning the effect of budget cuts in the court system.
An ongoing service project of the Blue Ridge Bar Association is to provide an article to the Cherokee Tribune on a legal topic of interest. The article is published on the first Sunday of each month and sometimes runs in a series on consecutive Sundays. Topics submitted this Bar year by judges and attorneys addressed a wide variety of subjects, including what renters should look for in a contract to protect themselves, the "do's and don'ts" for landlords and tenants, the basis for setting bail bonds, procedures to prepare for in advance of a vehicle accident, protecting assets from creditors, suggestions for employees who are terminated, the need for advance medical directives, and the role of drugs and alcohol in criminal behavior.
Members of the public interested in attending the Law Day luncheon, which costs $13.00, are asked to contact the president of the Canton Rotary Club, Peter Gleichman, at (770) 926-1957 ext. 302.
Drew G. Bishop practices law with the Jasper firm Ernst & Partners and is the 2010 Law Day Chairperson for the Blue Ridge Bar Association.