Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oxbridge Lecture Series Welcomes Former Georgia Chief Justice November 13

Norman Fletcher, former chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court and an attorney with Brinson, Askew, Berry, Siegler, Richardson and Davis in Rome, will discuss "The First Under Fire: Contemporary Challenges to the First Amendment," at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, in the Berry College Science Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public.

Fletcher is the third and final speaker in the 2008 Oxbridge Lecture Series. These lectures have been held in conjunction with the Berry Honors Program course "Freedom of Expression," taught by Dr. Brian Carroll, which examines the origins and historical uniqueness of the First Amendment, the evolution in the interpretations of its freedoms over time and the contemporary challenges to one of the Unites States’ most basic laws.

Fletcher ascended to the position of chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court in June 2001, becoming the 26th person to hold that title since the role was established in 1845. A primary focus during his term was reform of the state's indigent defense system. The Georgia Indigent Defense Act passed in 2003 as part of an initiative by the Chief Justice's Commission on Indigent Defense, which Fletcher founded. He has been a tireless champion of openness in government, acting to make Georgia Supreme Court documents available online. In recognition, Fletcher was awarded the Georgia First Amendment Foundation's Charles L. Weltner Freedom of Information Award in March 2005 for "preserving the public's right to know."

A native of Fitzgerald, Ga., Fletcher began practicing law in 1958 as an associate in the law firm of Mathews, Maddox, Walton and Smith in Rome. From 1965-1989, he served as LaFayette's city attorney, a period during which he also served as a county attorney and as a special assistant attorney general for the state.

Fletcher earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956 and his LL.B. in 1958, both from the University of Georgia. He also earned an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1995.

Since his retirement from the Supreme Court in 2005, Fletcher has been active in the Rome community, serving in leadership positions in church and civic groups. In addition to practicing law, he also serves on the University of Georgia's College of Public and International Affairs Board of Visitors.

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