The 12th annual Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award Banquet brought out a host of judges who joined in supporting the 2013 honoree, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Carol Hunstein.
The dinner event at the downtown Atlanta offices of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton actually marks the beginning of the 20th anniversary year for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
A video prepared by WAGA’s Dale Russell about the chief justice’s life was introduced by her friend, Ga. Rep. Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs).
The foundation’s FOI award is named for the late Charles L. Weltner, a strong advocate for government transparency who served Georgia as a congressman and as chief justice of the state supreme court. The awarded was presented at the banquet to the current chief justice by Weltner’s grandson, Charles Longstreet Weltner Yow, and by his daughter, Betsey Weltner.
In her remarks, the chief justice recalled the gracious and engaging manner of the late chief justice in 1991 when the sitting justices recused themselves from a case and appointed a panel of superior court judges to hear it. As president of the Georgia Council of Superior Court Judges at the time, she was appointed the temporary chief justice, making her the first woman ever to serve in that capacity.
In addition to recognizing Chief Justice Hunstein, GFAF also honored Otis Brumby Jr. with its Open Government Hero Award, recognizing the late Marietta publisher for his tireless efforts to hold local and state government officials accountable to the state’s open records and meetings laws.
Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, whose law firm represented Brumby and the Marietta Daily Journal in a number of the newspaper’s open government battles, presented the award to his son, Otis Brumby III, the newspaper’s current publisher.
Other distinguished guests at the dinner included U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Beverly Martin; Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias; Georgia Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines; Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham; Judge Herbert Phipps, Presiding Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals; Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Sara L. Doyle; Georgia Court of Appeals judge Anne Barnes; Georgia Court of Appeals judge Chris McFadden; Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens; Superior Court Judge Stephanie Manis; State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver; former Georgia Congressman Buddy Darden and former State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield.
Sponsors of the event included The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; the Marietta Daily Journal; CNN; Dow Lohnes PLLC; Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP; LexisNexis; Weltner Communications; the Fulton County Daily Report; McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP and Troutman Sanders LLP.