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Law Day forum focuses on equality

ALBANY, Ga. -- More than 25 members of the Darton Paralegal Student Association gathered at the Darton State College Student Center Tuesday to hear four members of the legal profession speak about law as applied to historical and personal equality. The occasion was national Law Day, observed each year since President Dwight D. Eisenhower established it in 1958 to recognize the principles of government under law.

According to William F. (Trey) Underwood III, president-elect of the Dougherty County Bar Association, the theme of this year's Law Day was "Realizing The Dream: Equality for All."

"This day should hold an even greater significance for Americans, since it marks the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech," Underwood said.

In keeping with those themes, most speakers made at least some mention of the Proclamation Tuesday, the boldness of its issue -- considering that Abraham Lincoln was not a particularly popular president -- and the historical significance of the document. It was also made clear that the proclamation did not actually free slaves.

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Baxter Howell

According to Baxter Howell, because slaves were considered valuable property even by many in the North, the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, issued by Lincoln himself. It did not affect any Confederate state already under Union control or any state that had not seceded. And, of course, it relied upon the Union winning the war, by no means a foregone conclusion, Howell said. It was only with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, coming after war's end, that slaves were actually freed.

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Smith Wilson

Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney Smith Wilson said that though she's only been in her current position for about three years, she is acquainted with women who experienced severe discrimination in the law field, one of which was required to return to work within two days of childbirth.

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Karen Brown

"That couldn't be done today," Wilson said. "It's not legal. You'd be given plenty of time to recover and be with your child."

Karen Brown, an attorney with the Public Defender's office, called the Emancipation Proclamation "the greatest plea bargain known to man."

"It's a living, breathing document," Brown said of the proclamation. "It was forced into being by a president so unpopular he had to sneak into town for his inauguration."

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Charles Lamb

Brown said that, even though the Emancipation Proclamation was a great historical document, she would have had trouble defending it at the time because it took so much of what was then considered property from law-abiding citizens.

Charles Lamb, an attorney with the Lamb Law Firm, discussed the advancement through history of people with physical or mental disabilities at the Law Day gathering. According to Lamb, as late as the 1980s and early 1990s, mental patients were commonly warehoused, put in institutions without hot water and abused, physically and sexually.

Lamb himself was paralyzed from the chest down several years ago when vertebrae in his neck were injured in a diving accident. While he has mostly recovered from the injury, he said the residual affects remind him of the plight of the disabled.

Comments

Abytaxpayer 1 year, 7 months ago

And they say no one reads the online squwks

Abytaxpayer5 days, 2 hours ago on Group to host annual Confederate ceremony

The Emancipation Proclamation (1862) was strictly a political move to punish the secessionist states of the Confederacy, which were economically dependent on slavery. Lincoln was willing to allow slavery to continue in states than did not secede from the Union, or who were willing to return.

While is it factual that Lincoln and his Republican party campaigned against the expansion of slavery, if the states of the Confederacy had negotiated their position (as the states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and Delaware did) instead of seceding (1861), slavery might well have continued for another generation in the United States.

The much lauded Emancipation Proclamation did not really free (all) slaves, nor did it make slavery illegal (everywhere), and was not passed as a result of winning the civil war, but as a political move early in the conflict to facilitate the Union using slaves, both economically and as soldiers, to win the war. It did, eventually (1865), provide the legal framework used to free nearly all of the 4 million -odd slaves in the US after the war, but that decision was very controversial, and was why Lincoln was assassinated (1865).

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Trustbuster 1 year, 7 months ago

The notion of equality did not originate in the US but during the French Revolution. Lincoln was influenced more by the French Revolution and Germany's nation-state than the principles of our Founding Fathers. Evidently these lawyers believe the constitution is a living document and not textual.

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GeeGee 1 year, 7 months ago

Trey Underwood knows that this is not true. If you do not have the greenbacks to hire a attorney, then you will not have a good attorney, unless you are lucky. A court appointed attorney is just that. Give as little time as possible and plea it down. All men were not created equal. That is BS and it only applied to men. Women were not included. If that were true, we would not have had to have an amendment giving women the right to vote. Money talks and it always gives you more freedom. If you think otherwise, then you have your head buried in the sand.

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gotanyfacts 1 year, 7 months ago

The Constitution sets a goal of equal protection under the law. Human imperfections preclude absolute attainment of that goal. Progress has been made, but we are now facing a concept of equality that undermines the goal of our founding fathers. Activists and politicians are pushing the concept of equality in outcomes. Equality under the law and equal outcomes can't coexist. Individual freedoms must also be diminished because the way those freedoms are exercised result in different outcomes. We need to be very wary of a government where politicians and bureaucrats are considered wise enough and altruistic enough to manipulate our lives for the "common good".

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RedEric 1 year, 7 months ago

"Realizing the dream, Equality for all". This is absolutely hilarious coming from the law profession. They are the leading culprits making some people equaler than others. (I realize that isn't a real word, but I like it) not only in the courtroom, but in our administration. I would list examples, but it is like preaching to the choir.

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VietVet1 1 year, 7 months ago

Yep! And some Native American's were POW's until 1924! BTW can anyone provide a treaty the US govt signed with any tribe that was kept? Let's open another can of worms.

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GeeGee 1 year, 7 months ago

A very good example of this is the State Senator from Coffee County, GA who just got arrested on his second DUI. Got off with reckless driving on the first offense. Now they should throw the book at him because he got off lightly on the first one. And the Senate should ask for his resignation. Any other common man on the first offense would have lost his license, $2500 fine and taken an expensive driving course for DUI. This is not even mentioning his insurance coverage. Bet this one will hurt now. If not, anyone who votes him back in office is a fool.

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