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Nice gesture helps justice make history
GA Chief Justice Albe
Atlanta-Chief Justice Carol Huntstein, left, and Justice George Carley share a moment of laughter Tuesday in Atlanta when Carley was sworn in as the Georgia Supreme Court's 29th chief justice. - photo by Vino Wong

Every now and then, you hear a story about someone who does something exceptionally nice for someone.

I just believe that there is a place in heaven for folks who provide activities like summer camps for children with chronic illness or physical challenges.

The same is true for folks who do nice things for people in the twilight of their careers.

This is one of those stories.

Carol Hunstein has served for the past few years as the chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Serving alongside her is Justice George Carley, who was first appointed to the Court of Appeals by Gov. George Busbee. His colleagues elected him as chief judge of the appeals court.

In 1993, Gov. Zell Miller appointed him to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Next year, Carley will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 and would have to step down. He has decided to do so later this year.

Hunstein and the other five justices decided to give Carley a parting gift. They elected him to serve as chief justice for the next month. As a result of their action, Carley will be the only person in Georgia history to serve as the chief judge of both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

I think that’s just a nice thing to do.

A few weeks ago, I was down in Glennville for a law enforcement appreciation supper. Justice Hunstein was there and we chatted for a moment. She seems like a genuinely kind person and I enjoyed our conversation.

What she did for Carley made me like her even more.

I don’t know Carley, but his resume sounds impressive. He’s a member of an outfit called the Old Warhorse Lawyers Club. I don’t know what that is, but it sounds good.

From his picture, he looks like the guy that Hollywood would pick to play the judge, if you were casting a role.

I don’t know much about being a judge, but the folks who serve on the higher courts of our state become almost anonymous, accept among lawyers and judges.

A Superior Court judge has juries of local folks who come in and hear cases. Their courtrooms sometime become places of high theater, as lawyers take center stage.

The appeals process is rather sterile. A light comes on and a lawyer makes his argument. He has limited time, so most choose to cut to the chase, so to speak.

Carley has been a lawyer for more than half a century and has spent 33 years on the higher courts.

For Georgia history buffs, he now becomes an answer to a trivia question. He joins the late Justice George T. Smith in that regard. Smith was the only Georgian who was elected to office in all three branches of state government. He served as a state representative, lieutenant governor and on the Supreme Court.

Interestingly, Busbee, who he lost to in the 1974 race for governor, first appointed Smith to the court.
I like it when people just do something nice.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.

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