Mercer Law School to Host Panel on Judge Bootle’s Involvement with Civil Rights Movement

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MACON – Mercer Law School will host a panel discussion on “Hidden Legal Figures: Conversations with the Unsung” presented by the Arc of Justice Project on Tuesday, April 17 at 6 p.m. A reception will begin at 5 p.m. in the Robert Steed Lobby of the Law School.

A one-hour CLE credit is available for $10. Attendees are encouraged to pre-register online.

The discussion will focus on the life and career of Judge William Augustus Bootle, a double Mercer graduate, former Law School dean and professor, and a Lifetime Trustee of the University. The event is free and open to the public and will take place in the first-floor courtroom.

Bootle, a U.S. District Court judge from 1954 to 1981, presided over several federal court challenges to racial segregation in Georgia, most notably the lawsuit that forced the integration of the University of Georgia in 1961. He also issued a number of court orders that were instrumental in desegregating Georgia’s schools, elections and transportation facilities.

“There never has been an emphasis on and full understanding of the vital and heroic role that lawyers and judges played in the Civil Rights Movement, or, for that matter, the true nature of the lawyering endeavor,” said Derrick Alexander Pope, managing director of the Arc of Justice Project. “The advice given by those lawyers and the decisions of those judges have shaped our nation for the better. Hearing about those who were there, like Judge Bootle, can be an invaluable source of education and inspiration, both of which are presently in diminishing supply.”

Mercer Law School and the State Bar of Georgia have partnered with the Arc of Justice Project to present this reflection on legal efforts associated with the Civil Rights Movement.

Five of Macon’s most distinguished citizens will discuss the impact Bootle’s work had on the city, the state and the nation. Panelists include Patrick Longan, Mercer Law faculty and W.A. Bootle Chair in Ethics and Professionalism; Manley Brown, Mercer Law graduate and former law clerk to Judge Bootle in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia; Ella Carter, Bibb County School District school board member; and Andrew Manis, Middle Georgia State University professor of history and author of Macon: Black and White. The panel will be moderated by Charles E. Richardson, former Macon.com and The Telegraph columnist.

“Hidden Legal Figures” is a series of programs that will be held throughout the state through October to promote “Under the Color of Law,” a traveling exhibit being developed and managed by the Arc of Justice Project. The exhibit depicts the critical contributions of the legal profession to the advancement of civil and human rights. “Hidden Legal Figures” is a first-person account of the legal efforts associated with one of the most pivotal eras in American history.

The Arc of Justice Institute is a public educational institution whose mission is to foster a greater understanding of the rule of law where governance, economics and rights intersect. The Arc of Justice Project is its flagship initiative.

About Mercer Law School

Founded in 1873, Mercer University School of Law is one of the oldest law schools in the United States and the first one in the state of Georgia accredited by the American Bar Association. Mercer Law School’s educational philosophy is based on a broadly shared commitment to prepare students for the high-quality practice of law in a day-to-day learning environment that is both strongly supportive and consistently professional. Its innovative Woodruff Curriculum – which focuses on ethics and practical skills amid small class sizes – has twice earned the Gambrell Professionalism Award from the ABA for its “depth of excellence.” With an enrollment of about 375 students, Mercer Law School is nationally recognized for its exceptional programs in legal writing, moot court, experiential education, and ethics and professionalism.

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Billie Frys