law

March 2, 2005

Leah Ward Sears

She has been superior in a lot of courts. Leah Ward Sears was born into a military family in Germany in 1955. Her family eventually settled in Savannah. A graduate of Emory Law, Sears was working at an Atlanta law firm when Mayor Andrew Young appointed her to Atlanta’s traffic court. In 1988, at 32, […]

January 29, 1878

Walter F. George

The son of sharecroppers in Webster County became one of the longest serving U.S. senators in Georgia history. Walter F. George graduated from Mercer Law School and won election to the U.S. Senate in 1922. He supported early New Deal programs but broke with President Franklin D. Roosevelt over his attempt to pack the Supreme […]

January 26, 1846

Georgia Supreme Court

We often talk about firsts. Today, it’s a last. The United States got its Supreme Court in 1789. For many years Georgia was the only state that didn’t have a supreme court to review lower court decisions. The only way to correct judicial error was a new trial in a local court. That changed in […]

January 5, 2009

Griffin Bell

He may be best remembered as Jimmy Carter’s Attorney General, but Griffin Bell was a giant in the legal profession long before that. Born in rural Sumter County in 1918, Bell went to law school at Mercer University. In 1958, he was working for the Atlanta firm that became King & Spalding when he was […]

October 15, 1991

Clarence Thomas Confirmation

He became only the second African-American to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court—and one of its most controversial members. Clarence Thomas was born in Pinpoint, Georgia, in 1948 and was raised by his grandfather as a devout Catholic. He planned to join the priesthood but left the seminary after encountering racial prejudice. Instead, he graduated […]

September 25, 1946

Robert Benham

When Robert Benham was appointed the first African American on the Georgia Supreme Court, it was only one of a long line of firsts. Benham was born in Cartersville in 1946.  He majored in political science at Tuskegee University and attended Harvard before graduating from the University of Georgia's School of Law in 1970.  After […]

September 15, 1831

Worcester v. Georgia

The beginnings of the infamous Cherokee Trail of Tears could well be traced to a Lawrenceville courtroom.  During the 1820s, Governor George Gilmer made Cherokee removal a top priority. But in 1827, the Cherokee Nation established a government and declared themselves sovereign.  In response, furious Georgia leaders abolished Cherokee government, and annexed Cherokee land.  Meanwhile, […]

August 17, 1915

Leo Frank Lynching

One of the darkest episodes in Georgia history, the lynching of Leo Frank in Marietta, occurred on this day in 1915. Frank was convicted in 1913 of murdering Mary Phagan, a 15 year old employed by Frank at the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta. Police immediately suspected Frank, a New York Jew, despite strong evidence […]