In 1215, the Magna Carta was established as a charter of liberties granted by England’s King John to his barons to quell their rebellion and restore their allegiance. The ideas embodied in this historic document have withstood the test of time and have become a symbol of liberty and the rule of law.
In particular, the idea that no person is above the law is embodied by the Magna Carta and is also a cornerstone of America’s judicial system. It is also currently a front-running issue facing America’s judicial system with events such as those in Charleston, South Carolina and Ferguson, Missouri.
To further the ideal that no person is above the law and to celebrate the Magna Carta, the Blue Ridge Bar Association took part in several events. Members of the Bar Association partnered with Goshen Valley Boys Ranch, a home for boys in the state foster care system. On April 11, members of the Bar Association turned out to help with landscaping projects around the campus, including weeding, laying mulch and digging out old shrubbery.
A Law Day social was held April 23 at The Study in downtown Canton. Local lawyers gathered together to celebrate Law Day with light appetizers and discussion on this year’s Law Day theme.
The Bar Association also partnered with the Rotary Club of Canton to hold the annual Law Day luncheon on April 28. The goal of the luncheon was to provide a forum for discussion of the idea that no person is above the law.
Those in attendance had the pleasure of hearing Judge John J. Ellington speak. Judge Ellington is the 66th judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals and has held the position since 1999. Judge Ellington became one of the youngest trial court judges ever appointed to the State Court bench when he was appointed State Court Judge of Treutlen County, Georgia in 1992.
Those in attendance also witnessed the presentation of the prestigious Liberty Bell Award and Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award. The Liberty Bell Award is given each year by lawyers to a non-lawyer and was created to recognize individuals who encourage greater respect for law and the courts by contributing to the effective functioning of our institutions of government.
This year’s recipient, Pam Carnes, is the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce CEO and president. Ms. Carnes first joined the Chamber in 1991 and has held various positions there including interim president and membership director.
Ms. Carnes also served on the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Board of Directors from 1998 to 2010, and has been locally involved with the Service League of Cherokee County as well as an active member of First United Methodist Church of Canton. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Foundation and volunteers as a Reinhardt University Ambassador. By dedicating her time and her work to these multiple agencies, Ms. Carnes clearly contributes to the effective functioning of local government every day.
The recipient of this year’s Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award is Jane Johnson, the Chief Bailiff at the Cherokee County Justice Center, who retired earlier this year after 28 years of service and dedication to the Courts.
The Robert S. “Bob” Stubbs Distinguished Service Award is not given every year and recognizes a non-lawyer for his or her work in the legal community. It is only given when the individual has made significant accomplishments in the legal community.
Ms. Johnson began work in 1987 when the Historic Marble Courthouse was still the main courthouse for the community. She cared for judges and juries, seeing to their needs and calling the court to order. Over the course of her career, she’s worked for multiple judges, and was in charge of hiring numerous bailiffs. Ms. Johnson played a large part in making the Cherokee County Justice Center what it is today. Even in her retirement, Ms. Johnson continues to take care of the legal community by now serving as a part-time bailiff.
This year’s Law Day Celebration of the Magna Carta and the principle that no one person is above the law was embraced by the Blue Ridge Bar Association. Through the numerous events held to celebrate the event, members of the Blue Ridge Bar Association have gained a greater appreciation for the rule of law, the Magna Carta, and the principle that no one person is above the law.
Cynthia Propst is an attorney at Thompson, Meier, & King. She focuses on estate planning, probate law, and criminal defense. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Penn State University, the Dickson School of Law.