2019 Weltner Banquet to honor legacy of late Ga. Supreme Court Chief Justice Harris Hines

Chief Justice Harold Melton will be the keynote speaker for the event, which will mark the foundation’s 25th anniversary with an award to GFAF co-founder Hyde Post.

The late Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harris Hines

Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines, who died last fall, was praised for his judicial acumen, fairness and kindness. The Georgia First Amendment Foundation remembers him as a friend of our organization and our open government cause, and we are honoring his legacy with a posthumous Weltner Freedom of Information Award at our annual Weltner Banquet on Oct. 10.

Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold Melton, a close friend and former colleague of the late chief justice, will give the keynote address at the banquet.

This year also marks GFAF’s 25th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, we will present our Founder’s

GFAF founding member Hyde Post

Award to Hyde Post, co-founder, board member and past president of the foundation, to recognize his many years of service to our organization and his tireless advocacy for open government in Georgia and across the country. Post was inducted into the National Freedom of Information Coalition’s Open Government Hall of Fame in April.

This year’s Weltner Banquet will take place at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 10, at the Silverbell Pavilion of the Emory Conference Center in Atlanta. See details below on how to become a Weltner Banquet sponsor.

Honoring Chief Justice Hines’ legacy

Hines, who retired from the bench in August 2018 at the age of 75, was a regular at our annual Weltner banquets, named for the late Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles L. Weltner, an unyielding champion of government transparency. Last year, Hines appeared in a video tribute to our 2018 honoree, Cobb Superior Court Senior Judge James Bodiford, whom we recognized for repeatedly protecting the public’s right to courtroom access, even as he presided over some of Georgia’s highest-profile criminal cases.

Hines himself was a Cobb County Superior Court judge in the early 1990s when the Marietta Daily Journal filed a lawsuit against Promina Health System and Northwest Georgia Health System seeking an injunction requiring the defendants to comply with Georgia’s Sunshine Laws. Hines ruled in favor of the Journal, setting a precedent of public access to records of a private, nonprofit hospital doing work on behalf of a governmental hospital authority. The Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed his ruling in 1995.

Then-Justice Hines also wrote the Court’s unanimous opinion in Howard v. Sumter Free Press in 2000, which compelled the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office to comply with the state Open Records Act. The opinion rejected an allegation that the newspaper’s records requests were not bona fide because they were made verbally. As recently as early 2018, in Tucker v. Atwater, Chief Justice Hines joined justices Keith Blackwell and Nels Peterson in questioning whether Tift County school officials had gone too far in punishing a teacher for comments made on her private Facebook account.

Chief Justice Hines was killed in a Nov. 4 car accident on I-85. He was en route to his home in Marietta from Newnan, where he had heard his granddaughter sing in a church choir. The day after his death, Georgia Supreme Court Presiding Justice David E. Nahmias gave a heartfelt statement about how much Hines would be missed.

GFAF President Richard T. Griffiths said, “Chief Justice Hines’ legacy of service is an inspiration to all of us who strive to make a difference in the lives of Georgians. We are grateful for his many years of support for the Georgia First Amendment Foundation and look forward to welcoming his family and friends to celebrate of his life and legacy at our 2019 Weltner Banquet.”

Join the celebration as a sponsor

Join the celebration of Hines’ legacy and the foundation’s quarter century of essential work as a sponsor of this year’s Weltner Banquet. The annual fundraiser is the greatest source of regular financial support for the foundation’s mission to protect and expand government transparency, accountability journalism and free speech in Georgia.

Sponsorships are available at four levels:

  • Platinum—Eight tickets with preferred VIP seating for the dinner, premium recognition as a host, including signage and a full-page advertisement in the program; all benefits of being an institutional GFAF member, including legislative updates and one complimentary open government workshop for your organization or company, $10,000.
  • Gold—Eight tickets with preferred VIP seating for the dinner, premium recognition as a host, including signage and a full-page advertisement in the program, $5,000.
  • Silver—Six tickets for the dinner, recognition and signage, and a half-page advertisement in the program, $2,500.
  • Bronze—Four tickets for the dinner, recognition and signage and a quarter-page advertisement in the program, $1,500.

To become a sponsor, please call Lenora Kopkin at 678-395-3618 (office) or 770-331-2524 (mobile) or email info@gfaf.org. Sponsorship deadline is Sept. 24.

Learn more about GFAF’s Weltner Award, named for the late Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles L. Weltner, an unyielding champion of government transparency, and see a list of past honorees.

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