ALBANY, Ga. -- The Dougherty County Circuit Bar Association held its annual Law Day banquet Wednesday at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The group posthumously honored fallen Dougherty County Police Lt. Cliff Rouse with it's Liberty Bell Award.
Rouse, an 18-year-veteran of the Dougherty Police Department and 1997 Officer of The Year, was gunned down in December while responding to an armed robbery.
His widow, Christine, accepted the award on Rouse's behalf while his parents, Jackie and Tom, looked on.
The Liberty Bell Award, presented at more than 200 Law Day programs across the nation, recognizes a person who has promoted better understanding of the rule of law, encouraged a greater respect of the law and the courts, stimulated a sense of civic responsibility, and contributed to good government and the community.
Georgia Court of Appeals Chief Judge John Ellington and Presiding Judge Herbert Phipps of Albany were the keynote speakers.
"It's important that young people are exposed to our system of justice, which is the best system in the world," Phipps said. "Sometimes lawyers defend unpopular people. Take a look at Guantanamo (Bay detention camp). There are bad people there with lawyers defending them, and it's a lawyer's job to make sure even the worst person is protected.
"That's what lawyers are all about."
In addition to the award presentation, The Association also recognized the induction of nine new Albany High students into the Legal Chiefs Chapter of the Georgia Law Honor Society of Secondary Schools.
Dylan Duke, Andrea Green, Amber Houston, Mariah Marshall, Samariah Roberson, Joshlyn Smith, Andrew Tabatt, Tanesha Tumblin, and A'Kera Watson joined Kwanesia Ellis, Reginald Harvey, Jeanetta Hicks, and Essence Thomas, who were inducted last year.
Law Day Essay Contest winners, who wrote about the Law Day theme, "The legacy of John Adams -- From Boston to Guantanamo," also were recognized.
JaRon Whitaker of Monroe was the winner, followed by runner-up Jonathon Hunter of Dougherty and third-place winner Kason Jones of Monroe.