Over 40 AJMLS Alumni and their family gathered at the State Bar Annual meeting Alumni reception. Among the group was Dean Lynn, Alumni Director Ginger Arnold, Director of Admissions Rebecca Stafford, and Alumni Board Chair Boris Milter.
The upcoming HBO premiere of the documentary Gideon’s Army is already receiving rave reviews from national publications and local papers. The film follows the personal stories of Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School professor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center (now known as Gideon’s Promise) they struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year.
Gideon’s Army in the Press
At the American Film Institute’s recent screening of Gideon’s Army, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the film’s impact in the legal community. “Gideon’s Army is a documentary that challenges each of us – as legal professionals, as policymakers, and as patriotic citizens from all backgrounds and walks of life – to reclaim the values enshrined in this important ruling, to ask difficult questions about our criminal justice system as a whole, and to recommit ourselves – as individuals, and as a people – to realizing the founding promise that has always stood at the core of our identity as a nation: of equal justice, and equal opportunity, for all,” says Holder.
He goes on to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School Professor Jon Rapping. Holder says, “Under the leadership of remarkable men and women like Jon Rapping – the founder of Gideon’s Promise, formerly known as the Southern Public Defender Training Center, who we’re fortunate to have with us tonight – they’re fighting to make a difference, once case at a time. They’re working to restore and improve public defender programs that – in some places – do little more than process people in and out of our courts.”
Rapping later participated in a panel discussion about the film. To read the Attorney General’s full speech, click here. Below please view at short video of opening day at the American Film Festival where the film was debuted – the first minute of the video discusses Gideon’s Army.
Scheduled to air on HBO on July 1, Gideon’s Army, which features the law school’s own Professor Jon Rapping’s non-profit organization Gideon’s Promise, held a private screening on June 11. The Daily Report was one of the many media outlets present to cover the event. They reported:
“Three years in the making, Gideon’s Army tells the stories of two Georgia public defenders, Travis Williams and Brandy Alexander, and Mississippi lawyer June Hardwick as they fight for their clients while juggling enormous caseloads and big student loan payments on low salaries.
Gideon’s Army provoked crying, laughter and spontaneous applause during the Atlanta screening. In the film Williams and Alexander work doggedly to help two clients, both teenage boys charged with armed robbery, fight prosecution in a system where high bonds, steep mandatory sentences and limited resources wear down even the most dedicated public defenders.
HBO bought Gideon’s Army after seeing just 20 minutes of footage, Porter said. The film went on to win the Sundance Film Festival’s Editing Award in January.”
To view the full Daily Report article, click here. Once again, Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School is appreciative of the attention and community support Professor Rapping and his organization have received.
The State Bar of Georgia Diversity Program (GDP) in partnership with Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) and The Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys, Inc. (LIWOCA) sponsored its 6th High School Pipeline Program. The program was held at AJMLS from May 28 – June 7, 2013 where Teach for America’s Pierce Hand taught the students daily one-hour sessions of grammar and writing; and speech classes were taught by the school’s law professors, attorneys at GDP member law firms and corporations, and LIWOCA attorneys. The students visited law firms and corporate law offices daily where they were mentored on topics including social media etiquette, dining room etiquette, credit, study skills, interviewing skills and selecting the college of your choice. Students also engaged in one-on-one mentoring sessions with attorneys and summer associates. The program concluded with an oral and written competition and an ice cream social at one of the GDP firms.
Professor Rapping was among a group of national experts invited to the White House on June 5, 2013 to discuss Judicial Vacancies and the Importance of the Courts. With five unfilled vacancies on the Eleventh Circuit and Northern District of Georgia, four of which are considered judicial emergencies, the situation is particularly pressing for Georgians. Professor Rapping then joined a small Georgia delegation to meet with staff for Senators Isakson and Chambliss to discuss the problem of unfilled vacancies on Georgia’s federal courts and the risk it poses to the efficient functioning of our judicial system. Once again, another exciting accomplishment for our faculty.
On May 21, 2013, Judge Willie J. Lovett, Jr. began serving as a Juvenile Court Judge for the Atlanta Judicial Circuit in Fulton County, Georgia. Judge Lovett will preside over all juvenile matters originating in Fulton County and will provide leadership to the Juvenile Court as it prepares to implement Georgia’s new Juvenile Code, which will become law on January 1, 2014. Judge Lovett also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where he teaches Georgia Practice and Procedure and Local Government Law. In 2012, Judge Lovett became certified by the American Bar Association and the National Association of Counsel for Children as a Child Welfare Law Specialist (“CWLS”). Judge Lovett is a member of the American Bar Association, the National Association of Counsel for Children and the Georgia Association of Counsel for Children.
Prior to this appointment as Juvenile Judge, Judge Lovett served as the Director of the Fulton County Child Attorney’s Office. In that role, he managed the attorneys, investigators, social workers and administrative staff, ensuring that constitutional and statutory mandates are met utilizing the American Bar Association Standards of Practice for Lawyers Who Represent Children in Abuse and Neglect Cases, (NACC Revised Version). Judge Lovett has also served as Deputy County Attorney for the Fulton County Attorney’s Office where he was lead litigation counsel for Fulton County in the Kenny A. v. Perdue litigation, originally filed in 2002. Prior to joining the Fulton County Attorney’s Office, Judge Lovett clerked for the Honorable Joseph W. Hatchett, former Chief Judge of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, served as an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Atlanta’s Law Department, and worked as an associate at several Atlanta law firms.
In 1985, Judge Lovett earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, cum laude with Distinction in the major from Yale University, where he received the 1985 Roosevelt Thompson Prize for commitment to public service. In 1988, Judge Lovett earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, where he served as a Comments Editor on the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, and in 1991, he earned his Master of Laws in Litigation from Emory Law School. Judge Lovett is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the United States District Courts for the Northern and Middle Districts of Georgia, the Georgia Supreme Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.
Judge Lovett is a native of Savannah, Georgia, currently resides in Fairburn, Georgia and is married to Seletha R. Butler, Esq.