Six counties in Georgia have no lawyers. Another 56 counties have 15 or fewer members of the bar. Georgia’s chief justice and state bar president say it’s a crisis for the legal system. The Daily Report went to South Georgia, home to all six lawyerless counties, to find out how law is practiced in a land without lawyers—and what some say should be done about it
As the U.S. slowly recovers from the recession, there is a great need for lawyers who provide free services to people who cannot afford to pay. In her work with the Georgia Legal Services Program, Karen Henize Geiger helps disadvantaged people get access to justice in ways that can ultimately lead to their finding a way out of poverty.
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The New York Times carried a front page story Dec. 11, 2014, about an African-American Henry County girl harshly disciplined for writing one word on a locker, “Hi,” while the white child involved in the incident received a lesser punishment, though her actions were more destructive. GLSP attorney Mike Tafelski is pictured and quoted.
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Mike Tafelski was also interviewed on NPR’s “The Takeaway” on Dec. 12, 2014.
To listen to that radio program, CLICK HERE.
And, Mike Tafelski was interviewed on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s “On Second Thought” on Dec. 15, 2014.
To listen to that radio program, CLICK HERE
Macon GLSP’s Bilingual Staff Attorney Jana Edmondson- Cooper was interviewed for an American Bar Association publication called “Pass it on” recently. To read the profile, please click below. Scroll down to “Member Profile.”
To hear Supervising Attorney Tomieka Daniel on how GLSP can help victims of Domestic Violence, CLICK HERE and scroll down to Cycles of Violence story.
GLSP Executive Director Phyllis Holmen writes about how important legal aid is, not just to individuals, but to the democracy. The Legal Services Corporation, which distributes funds from Congress to legal organizations around the country, turns 40 this year.
2013 and 2014 Champions
Anne Ervin is nominated for her long and faithful service on the GLSP board of directors, as a client member representing the Columbus region, appointed by the Muscogee County Foster Parents Association. Ms. Ervin served two full terms, from 1992 — 2000 and 2003 — 2011. She also served as a member of the Executive Committee from 1998 – 2000, and 2003 — 2005, and as Vice President from 2005 — 2011. During her service she was a dedicated supporter of the mission of GLSP and an active and faithful participant at board meetings. Ms. Ervin also faithfully contributed financially to GLSP.
Hon. Hardy Gregory (ret., Georgia Supreme Court), is nominated for his longstanding support for civil legal services and in particular his generous financial support of GLSP. Gregory has presented several generous gifts to GLSP which have supported services in rural areas of south Georgia. He is a 24-year donor to GLSP who has given 31 gifts. One major gift was dedicated to GLSP’s work with farmworkers, largely in south Georgia, where his roots are. On more than one occasion Gregory discretely pressed a check into the hands of the Executive Director when she was least expecting it. In addition, he has reviewed drafts of briefs and participated in moot court sessions for GLSP staff preparing to present oral argument to the Georgia Supreme Court. Gregory served on the Georgia Supreme Court from 1981-1989, resigning to return to private practice in Cordele, Georgia. In 2010, he was presented with the Chief Justice Thomas O. Marshall Professionalism Award by the State Bar of Georgia as a judge who had demonstrated the highest professional conduct and paramount reputation for professionalism for his contributions to the profession. Gregory still practices in Cordele, Georgia, now with his spouse, Toni Gregory, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice George Carley (ret.).
Avarita L. Hanson, Executive Director, Chief Justice’s Commission on Professionalism for the State Bar of Georgia, is nominated as a Champion for her longstanding support of GLSP. Hanson served as Director of the State Bar’s Pro Bono Project from November 1985 to December 1989, a position jointly supported by GLSP and the State Bar of Georgia. She is a 31-year donor to GLSP and has used many of her professional positions as platforms from which to advocate for access to justice, especially for the needy. Most recently, as director of the CJCP, she dedicated all of the proceeds of the 25th anniversary gala dinner to GLSP, a total of $ $42,000. The dinner showcased both the work of the Commission and the intersection of professionalism with access to justice. The event drew both long-term GLSP supporters as well as new supporters. Hanson received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and her A.B. magna cum laude with highest honors in 1975 from Harvard University (Radcliffe College). A member of the State Bars of Texas (1979) and Georgia (1984), she is a past president of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (1985) and the Gate City Bar Association (1991). Her law practice has been very varied. She is also the former associate dean of academic affairs and an associate professor at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School.
Hon. Carol Hunstein, Supreme Court of Georgia, is nominated as a Champion for her active and longstanding support of GLSP and other providers of civil legal services, and for using her role as Chief Justice from 2012 to 2013 as a pulpit from which to promote the core values of access to justice and the Rule of Law. In 2013 Hunstein specifically urged the State Bar of Georgia to do more to support civil legal services for the poor, resulting in several rule changes and other initiatives to bring more resources to the cause. Hunstein has taken time from her important duties on the Supreme Court to participate in events hosted by the Legal Services Corporation, the American Bar Association, and other organizations to promote funding for civil legal services, new ways to assist unrepresented litigants, and engagement of more lawyers in pro bono work. In so doing she has become a national voice for access to justice. She is the former chair of the Georgia Commission on Access and Fairness, which was charged with implementing the recommendations of the Commission on Gender Bias and the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias. That Commission also established the Access to Justice Committee, which worked for several years on projects to promote access to justice. She also chaired the Georgia Commission on Interpreters and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. She has received many awards during her career. Hunstein received her JD from Stetson Law School in 1976.
Linda Klein, managing shareholder at Baker Donnelson’s Georgia offices, is nominated for her extraordinary work on behalf of the cause of justice for all over several decades. As President of the State Bar of Georgia, she conceived and implemented plan to secure $2 million from the Georgia General Assembly in 1995 for legal services to needy survivors of domestic violence. Since that date, over $ 35 million has been appropriated for this purpose, enabling thousands of survivors of domestic violence across the state to secure protective orders, child support awards, assistance with needed benefits and resolution of related problems involving housing, schooling, and more. Linda has remained a member of the Judicial Council Committee to Distribute Funding for Domestic Violence Victims to assure this funding is dedicated to the cause she fought for. She chaired the board of the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia and served on the board of the Georgia Bar Foundation, assuring that resources from those organizations are also directed to legal services for the poor. She received the State Bar’s H. Sol Clark award in 1999, and a Resolution from the GLSP board in 2008, for these and other efforts. As a leader of the American Bar Association, she continues to actively support civil legal services for the poor by annually lobbying Georgia congressional delegation to support the Legal Services Corporation, and by speaking and writing about the cause of justice for all.
Cubbedge Snow, Jr., retired partner at Martin Snow in Macon, Ga., is nominated for his many years of service to the cause of justice for all, beginning with his support of the early efforts of the young lawyers working to establish the Georgia Indigents Legal Services and GLSP in the early 1970s. Cubbedge Served on the board of GLSP from 1988 – 1993, and as president of the State Bar of Georgia from 1974 — 1975, continuing to advocate for justice for all. He has served as a member of the American Bar Association House of Delegates and its Board of Governors, as well as a member of many ABA committees, most notably the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services. Access to justice has been one of the abiding values of Cubbedge’s legal career, and his personal support for staff of GLSP has been invaluable. Cubbedge received the H. Sol Clark Award from the State Bar of Georgia in 1988.
Frank Strickland, of Strickland Brockington Lewis in Atlanta, is nominated for his longstanding dedication to the cause of equal justice. Frank served on the GLSP Board from 1997 — 2003 as a State Bar appointee. He was a member of the Board’s Executive Committee from 1998-2001, and served as Vice-President from 2001 — 2003, chairing the Fundraising Committee in that capacity. Frank resigned from the GLSP board to take the office of Chair of the Board of the Legal Services Corporation in 2003, where he served until 2010. Frank expended tremendous personal and political influence to advance the cause of justice, building a renewed bipartisan base of support for legal services in the U.S. Congress. He devoted countless uncompensated hours in meetings of the LSC board held across the United States and in other countries. He continues to support the national cause as a member of the board of the Friends of the Legal Services Corporation. He continues to work to develop new resources for legal services in Georgia as well. Thousands of lives have been positively affected by his service. Frank received a resolution of appreciation for his efforts from the GLSP Board in 2010.
Randolph Thrower, is nominated posthumously for his longstanding support for civil legal services in Georgia. He was a 25-year donor to GLSP, and was also a strong supporter of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Thrower is recognized for his lifelong dedication to professionalism and the importance of access to justice for all, notwithstanding resistance from colleagues. He received his law degree from Emory University. As a young lawyer back in the early 40s, he was haunted by the execution of his client who had been convicted of rape, although Thrower believed him to be innocent. He was Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service under President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1971, when he was fired by John D. Ehrlichman “for resisting White House efforts to punish its enemies through tax audits.” He was a founder of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and was honored with its Segal-Tweed Founders Award. Among many other awards, he was presented with the American Bar Award in 1993, for his work as a “tireless champion for the poor for women, for minorities, and for our system of government that serves us all.” Thrower died at the age of 100 in March 2014.
Eva Washington, is recognized for her activities as a tireless advocate on behalf of clients, the Georgia Clients Council, and the Georgia Legal Services Program. As a member of the GLSP Board, Ms. Washington brought client-centered insight to the needs of clients and the ways in which GLSP attorneys could be helpful to the their communities. She rarely missed a statewide Georgia Client Council conference and used the conferences to both network with fellow members and learn as much as she could about legal issues affecting clients. Ms. Washington was also engaged with her local GLSP office in Savannah. She would frequently call to comment on some work that had been done by one of our legal workers on behalf of a client that she had seen on the news, read about in the newspaper or simply learned about from her many connections in the community. Just as she was quick to comment on what we had done, she was just as quick to tell us what we had not done and what we needed to do! She always did so as an advisor and advocate, never as a critic. She knew how much her insight, her interest, and her concerns were valued in the office.
Jack Webb is nominated as a Champion of Justice for his dedication to the cause of justice for all as demonstrated by his long tenure as the Director of Finance for Georgia Legal Services Program. Jack served in that position from January 2, 1979, until his retirement on March 31, 2011. He developed and implemented financial processes, budget planning, and accounting oversight as GLSP grew into a multi-million dollar non-profit law firm with multiple and ever-increasing funding sources, each with different reporting requirements, restrictions and deliverables, and grant terms. He supported administrative staff in multiple offices throughout Georgia, which for a period of time exceeded twenty different locations. He provided high-level, confidential, and creative input to the GLSP Executive Team, working through widely varying funding challenges and opportunities that changed every year. He offered wise counsel and constant emphasis on making decisions with the best interests of service to clients as a touchstone. As a supreme test, GLSP came through an audit by the LSC Inspector General in February 2013 with no issues, thanks in large part to the systems and staffing that Jack developed and supported.
Click Here to view GLSP’s 2013 Annual Report