Friday, December 3, 2010

Gate City Bar Judicial Section Names 2010 Legacy Award Winners

ATLANTA – The Gate City Bar Association Judicial Section has named those receiving its 2010 Legacy Awards. They are:

• A.T. Walden Award:

  • Granvette Matthews, Esq., Director, Family Division of Superior Court of Fulton County
• Judge Clarence Cooper Legacy Award:

  • Judge Marvin S. Arrington, Sr., Atlanta Judicial Circuit
• Judge Thelma Wyatt Moore Legacy Award:

  • Judge Constance Russell, Atlanta Judicial Circuit
• Justice Robert Benham Legacy Award:

  • Judge Orion L. Douglass, State Court of Glynn County
Judge Horace T. Ward Legacy Award:

  • Judge Stephanie Davis, Magistrate Court of Fulton County

The awards will be presented at the Judicial Section’s holiday scholarship and awards dinner on December 8, 2010.

“This year’s Legacy Award recipients are phenomenal public servants representing the high professional standards set by the esteemed jurists for whom these awards have been named,” said Judicial Section Chair, Fulton Superior Court Judge Gail S. Tusan. “It is my personal and professional honor to publicly acknowledge the contributions made to the legal community and community at large.”

Five local high school seniors and one graduating Morehouse College senior will be presented the Section’s 2011-2012 scholarships.

Those selected for scholarships are:

• Amanda Bennett, a junior at Chamblee Charter High School

• Paul Harris, Jr., a senior at Carver Early College High School

• Joa O’Neal, a senior at Carver Early College High School

• Christopher Preston, a senior at Morehouse College

• Ashanté Rosier-Robinson, a senior at Chamblee Charter High School

• Tevin Williams, a senior at Carver Early College High School

The Gate City Bar Association [],established in 1948, is the oldest African American Bar Association in the State of Georgia. The Gate City Bar Association was organized by ten African American lawyers to provide the educational, social and community involvement of a professional association for African American lawyers.

The purpose of GCBA Judicial Section [], founded in 2005, is to assist Georgia judges in the performance of their responsibilities and to foster positive relations between the bench and the bar. Through various community outreach programs, the Judicial Section seeks to build bridges with other organizations, constituencies and the community at large, all with the goal of increasing public trust and confidence in the justice system.

The Superior Court of Fulton County is Georgia’s largest and busiest trial court. Become a fan of the Fulton Superior Court on facebook. Follow the Court on twitter.


About the 2010 Legacy Award Namesakes and Recipients:

  • A. T. Walden---Born in Fort Valley, GA, A.T. Walden received a law degree from the University of Michigan in 1911 and subsequently began practicing in Macon, GA. After serving as a captain in the army in World War I, Walden began practicing in Atlanta. Here he founded the Gate City Bar Association and the Atlanta Negro Voters League. After serving as president of the Atlanta NAACP, delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and the first black judge in Georgia since the Reconstruction Era, serving in Atlanta’s Municipal Court, Walden passed in 1965.

Granvette Matthews ---  has been the Director of the Fulton Superior Court Family Division since November 2001. Prior to that time she was the Administrator of the Fulton County Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. She is a member of the Georgia Bar and is a registered neutral with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

Ms. Matthews is a graduate of the Emory University School of Law. She earned her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University and her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Winthrop University where she graduated magna cum laude. Ms. Matthews also earned her undergraduate certificate in Social Work from Winthrop University.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Ms. Matthews served as a Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) in Atlanta, and, upon graduation from law school Ms. Matthews was awarded a Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship and served as a staff attorney with Georgia Legal Services. Prior to her employment with Fulton County, Ms. Matthews was employed by the City of Atlanta, first as the Director of Pretrial Services and then as Clerk of Court/Court Administrator for the City of Atlanta Municipal Court.

In an interesting coincidence, Ms. Matthews used to volunteer at A. T. Walden Middle School, in Atlanta, teaching students about mediation.

  • Clarence Cooper—Born in Decatur, GA, Clarence Cooper obtained a Doctorate of Law in 1967 from Emory University. After working with Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Cooper became the first black Assistant District Attorney with Fulton County. Cooper served as a judge in the City of Atlanta Municipal Court and the Fulton County Superior Court before being appointed to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1990. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the second black federal judge in Georgia in 1995.

Marvin S. Arrington --- was appointed Judge to the Fulton County Superior Court by Governor Roy Barnes in January 2002. Prior to his appointment as Judge, Mr. Arrington was senior partner at the law firm of Arrington & Hollowell. His areas of concentration were civil litigation, white-collar crime, administrative law, and corporate representation.

He has been voted “One of Atlanta’s Top 25 Lawyers” by Atlanta Magazine and is recognized as being “Among the 100 Most Influential People in Georgia” by Georgia Trend Magazine. He received the Silverback Award recognizing his good works with the Atlanta Zoo. Mr. Arrington also received the Georgia Bar Association’s highest community service award, “The Chief Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service.”

Judge Arrington is an Emory University Law School Alumnus and a graduate of Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. As a member of the Society of International Business Fellows, he attended the London School of Business in 1981. Judge Arrington served as President of the Atlanta City Council, having been a member of the Council for over twenty years. He also has served as a member of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Authority and was its Chairman for eleven years, having been appointed by Mayor Maynard Jackson and later re-appointed by former Mayor Andrew Young.

Judge Arrington’s recently published autobiography, “MAKING MY MARK The Story of a Man Who Wouldn’t Stay in His Place,” is a testament of what happens when hard work and perseverance meet tenacity and optimism. It’s the story of a dedicated man, born in a segregated South who went on to break down racial barriers and build walls of inclusion and harmony. Through this book and his work with youth on the bench and in the larger community Judge Arrington continues to mentor, educate, and inspire future generations.

Judge Arrington has served as a Special Assistant to the President of the National Bar Association and formerly headed that Association's legal section. He was also appointed by the President of the American Bar Association to serve on the Association's Advisory Committee of the Special Committee on Election Law and Voter Participation. Judge Arrington has also served the State Bar of Georgia as Chairman of the Correctional Facilities and Service Committee.

Judge Arrington has served as a member of the boards of the Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority, the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Authority, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Advisory Board of the World Trade Club of Atlanta, the Commerce Club, the Atlanta Business League, the Atlanta Lawyers Club, and the Board of Governors of the Atlanta City Club. Judge Arrington has served on the Board of Trustees of The Lovett School and Clark Atlanta University. He is presently a member of the Board of Trustees of Emory University.

Judge Arrington has received numerous awards and commendations in recognition of his many accomplishments within the legal profession and for his commitment to community service. Emory University awarded Judge Arrington the "Emory Medal" in 1988 and the "Distinguished Alumnus Award" in 1989.

Judge Arrington's professional affiliations have included memberships in the State Bar of Georgia, the National Bar Association, the American Bar Association, Atlanta Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, the Gate City Bar Association and the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

  • Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore—Born in Los Angeles, CA, Thelma Wyatt Cummings Moore was the first woman to serve full-time on the benches of the Atlanta Municipal Court and the City Court of Atlanta. She is the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of the Superior Court of Fulton County and the first African-American woman to serve as Chief Administrative Judge of any Judicial Circuit in Georgia. Before retiring, after almost 30 years of service, Moore received the United States Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence.

Honorable Constance C. Russell ---

Judge, Superior Court

Atlanta Circuit, Fifth Judicial Administrative District County: Fulton

Office Address

T5705 Justice Center Tower 185 Central Avenue, SW Atlanta, GA 30303

Phone: 404-612-2803 Fax: 404-335-2814

Secretary: Vickie Edwards-Hood


Birth date: December 1

Initial Term: (A) 03/04/96

College/University: Harvard University

Law School: University of Virginia School of Law

  • Robert Benham—Born in Cartersville, GA, Robert Benham holds a J.D. from the University of Georgia and an L.L.M from the University of Virginia. After serving as an attorney for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Benham worked as a Special Assistant Attorney General in Cartersville while serving as President of the Bartow County Bar Association. After being appointed by Governor Joe Frank Harris as the first black state appellate judge in Georgia and serving for five years, Benham was appointed the 1st black Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Honorable Orin L. Douglass --- was born February 22, 1947 in Savannah, Georgia. His parents were both longtime educators in the Chatham County school system and he received his primary and secondary education in the Catholic parochial schools of Savannah.

In 1964, Douglass received his high school diploma from St. Pius X High School in Savannah, Georgia and in that same year was awarded a four-year athletic scholarship to attend Holy Cross College in Worchester, Massachusetts.

While at Holy Cross College, Douglas majored in Philosophy and received his A.B. degree in 1968. In that same year he was accepted and enrolled into Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1971, he received his Juris Doctorate degree from that institution.

After graduating from Washington University, Douglass was admitted to the State Bars of Missouri and Georgia in 1973. After serving as a law intern for the St. Louis Legal Aid Society and subsequently, Assistant Circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis, Douglass returned to his home state of Georgia in 1974.

After a brief stint as associate counsel for the law firm of Hill, Jones and Farrington in Atlanta, Georgia, Douglass returned to coastal Georgia and moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia in 1974. Since that time he has practiced law in the Glynn County community as a general practice trial lawyer for almost twenty years and presently is judge of the State Court of Glynn County.

In 1981 Douglass was appointed by the Brunswick City Council to the position of Judge of the Municipal Court. He served in that capacity for 12 years until November 1992 when he was elected in a multi-candidate, countywide race to the position of Judge of the State Court of Glynn County. Judge Douglass is presently serving his fourth term in that position.

Judge Douglass is married to the former Shirley Hill of Valdosta, Georgia and to this 34-year union they have been blessed with the birth of three children, Orin Jr., age 33, a special child, Omar, age 28, a 2004 graduate of Holy Cross College, and Odet, age 22, a senior at Holy Cross College and a member of the class of 2011.

Douglass, the grandson of a Presbyterian minister, is a member of the Brunswick Second Presbyterian Church where he is an Elder, sings in the choir and serves as the assistant music director. He presently serves on the Executive Board of the Okeefenoke Council of the Boy Scouts and is a charter member of the Fourteen Black Men of Glynn, Inc. He also served as past chairman of the Communities in Schools of Glynn, a grass roots support organization which serves and supports he public schools of Glynn County, Georgia.

Judge Douglass has served on several special commissions appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court and the Governor of Georgia. He is past President of the Council of State Court Judges for the State of Georgia and was once nominated to the Governor’s shortlist to fill a vacancy on the Georgia Court of Appeals until his nomination was withdrawn as his request.

Judge Douglass presently serves on various commercial and non-profit boards of directors and in 2004 he was specially honored by his alma mater, Washington University Law School when he was inducted as an honorary initiate into the University’s Oder of the Coif. In 2006 he was awarded a Distinguished Law Alumni Award by Washington University for that year and in 2007 he was awarded the Alfred W. Jones, Sr. Man of the Year Award by the Brunswick-Glynn County Chamber of Commerce.

  • Horace Ward—Born in LaGrange, GA, Horace Ward obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a Master’s degree from Atlanta University. He subsequently obtained a law degree from Northwestern University after being denied by the then-segregated University of Georgia Law School. Ward later added in the case to desegregate UGA’s law school. He served for nine years in Georgia’s State Senate before being appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the first black federal judge in the state of Georgia in 1979.

Honorable Stephanie Davis --- was born in Atlanta, Georgia to Albert and Myrtle Davis. She attended St. Paul of the Cross Elementary School and graduated from Northside High School. She earned an AB degree in Communication at Stanford University and obtained her JD degree at Emory University.

Judge Davis’ first job as an attorney was law clerk to the Honorable Clarence Cooper in the Superior Court of Fulton County in 1986. After Judge Cooper’s appointment to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 1990, she joined his staff as staff attorney. She later served as staff attorney for Judges Harold Banke and John Ruffin. In 2000, Judge Davis was appointed to be a part time magistrate in Fulton County. She became a full time magistrate in 2002. Last year, the judges of the State Court of Fulton County appointed her Chief Magistrate of Fulton County where she presides over dispossessory matters, small claims, garnishments, civilian warrant applications, traffic court, criminal first appearances, the issuance of arrest and search warrants, as well as, mental health, environmental, child support and domestic violence cases.

A strong advocate for persons with disabilities, Judge Davis served as the first chairperson for the Fulton County Commission on Disability Affairs. She joined others in a successful federal lawsuit against MARTA to ensure equal access to transportation in metropolitan Atlanta. She currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board at the Shepherd Center and has served as an advisor on disability related issues for numerous boards and agencies.

Judge Davis has served on several boards, including the Board of the Directors of The Atlanta Women’s Foundation and the Executive Board for the Council of Magistrate Court Judges.

Judge Davis is an enthusiastic Atlanta Falcons fan. She currently devotes a great deal of her free time to her neighborhood, Atlantic Station and serves on the Board of Directors of the Art Foundry Condominium Association.

About the students receiving scholarships:

Amanda Bennett is a junior at Chamblee Charter High School. Amanda has served as a prosecuting attorney on her school’s mock trial team as well as a member of the Academic and Black History Bowl teams. She plays the violin for the DeKalb Youth Symphony and is currently a member of DeKalb County Teen Court. Amanda hopes to be a public defender one day.

Paul Harris, Jr. is a senior at Carver Early College High School, where he currently stands as class Valedictorian. He is dually enrolled at Georgia State University and has been honored with the National Honor Society Leader Award as well as the President’s List at GSU. He is the Captain of his school’s debate team and the Vice-President of the Key Club. After receiving his Juris Doctorate, Paul plans on becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

Joa O’Neal is a senior at Carver Early College High School. She has been an active member of the Atlanta community for years, volunteering with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Be a Match Foundation, Hands on Atlanta, and many breast cancer research initiatives. She plans to continue to college next fall and ultimately hopes to have a career in non-profit administration.

Christopher Preston is a senior Political Science major at Morehouse College; he is also the first male in his family to attend college. He is a Dean’s List student who spent a summer studying at the London School of Economics. Preston currently serves at the president of the 100 Black Men of America Collegiate Chapter of Atlanta, GA. Upon graduation, Preston plans to continue to law school.

Ashanté Rosier-Robinson is a senior at Chamblee Charter High School. She is the secretary of her school’s Student Government Association and a volunteer with Hosea Feed the Hungry and Hands on Atlanta. After attending law school, Ashanté plans to use her knowledge of the legal system to press for a higher quality of education in South DeKalb county public schools.

Tevin Williams is a senior at Carver Early College High School. He is an honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society. Tevin has been consistently involved with the Sandtown community Recreational Center Community Service Projects. Next fall, he plans on attending the University of Georgia as a pre-law major, after which he will pursue a Juris Doctorate.

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