Former Georgia Chief Justice to speak
Leah Ward Sears, the former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, will deliver the Susette M. Talarico Lecture at the University of Georgia. Justice Sears’ remarks will be given in the Larry Walker Room in Dean Rusk Hall at 4:00 pm on September 20. The lecture is co-sponsored by the School of Public and International Affairs’ Department of Political Science and the Criminal Justice Studies Program.
Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Justice Sears spent her formative years in Savannah, Georgia. She received her Bachelor’s degree at Cornell University (‘76), her Juris Doctor from Emory University (‘80), and a Master of Laws from the University of Virginia School of Law (‘95). Justice Sears began the first five years of her legal career with the law firm of Alston & Bird, and then left private practice to begin a career in public service as a judge with the City Court of Atlanta. At the age of 32, she was elected to the Fulton County Superior Court.
Once appointed to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1992, Justice Sears became the first woman and youngest person ever to serve on the Georgia Supreme Court. While serving on the Court, Justice Sears spearheaded programs such as the Georgia Supreme Court’s Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law, addressing the legal and administrative issues resulting from the increasing fragmentation of Georgia’s families. Justice Sears was also instrumental in the formation of the Committee on Civil Justice, an organization that develops, coordinates and supports policy initiatives to expand access to the courts for low-income Georgia residents.
Sears became the first African-American female Chief Justice in the United States when she was elected Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court in 2005, where she served until her retirement from the bench in 2009.
“We are honored to have Leah Ward Sears deliver this year’s Talarico Lecture,” said John A. Maltese, Head of the Department of Political Science. “She is a trail-blazer and a role model with a wealth of experience on both sides of the bench.”
Currently, Sears is a partner with the law firm of Schiff Hardin, and is the Distinguished Fellow in Family Law at the Institute for American Values, a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution.
The Talarico lecture is made possible by a fund created to honor longtime UGA professor Susette Talarico, who was a faculty member at UGA for more than three decades. Dr. Talarico was Albert Berry Saye Professor of American Government and Constitutional Law, Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor, and served as Director of the Criminal Justice Studies Program for 22 years.
This event is free and open to the public. For students of the Franklin College, it is a blue-card event. A reception will follow the lecture.
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