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GOVERNOR ROY BARNES TO SUMMARIZE EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE AT UGA LAW DAY; MAJOR INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIAL ALSO RE-ENACTED

Abstract

Monday, March 20, 2000

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172, pharr@arches.uga.edu

CONTACT: Jill Birch, (706) 542-5190, jbirch@arches.uga.edu

Bill Weber, (706) 542-2739, bweber@arches.uga.edu

GOVERNOR ROY BARNES TO SUMMARIZE EDUCATION REFORM PACKAGE AT UGA LAW DAY; MAJOR INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIAL ALSO RE-ENACTED

ATHENS, Ga. -- Georgia Governor Roy Barnes, State School Board Chairman Otis Brumby, and Board of Regents Chancellor Stephen Portch will summarize the state education reform effort during the University of Georgia School of Law's observance of Law Day on Friday, March 31 from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. in the UGA Chapel. Their panel discussion will focus upon the final provisions of "The Future of Education in Georgia: A+ Education Reform Act of 2000," the landmark bill which has just passed the Georgia General Assembly.

Both Barnes and Brumby are alumni of the UGA law school, Barnes earning his law degree in 1972 and Brumby in 1965. Following their discussion, the three panelists will entertain 15 minutes of questions from the audience.

"The future of public education in our state is obviously of prime importance to every Georgia citizen, but of especially keen interest to parents, educators and students themselves," said David Shipley, dean of the UGA law school. "We are pleased to be able to deliver information straight from the top to the local community through this unique Law Day forum. It's also beneficial to our law students to understand the role of lawyers as public servants and catalysts for social change."

The afternoon program for Law Day will feature the trial re-enactment of portions of a major international military scandal: "The Aviano Trial: Military Pilots Out-of-Control or a Tragic Accident?" presented in the UGA Chapel from 2:30 - 4:30 p.m. Attorneys attending may earn 1.5 hours of continuing legal education credit in trial practice.

The incident occurred in February 1998, when Marine pilot Richard Ashby severed a ski gondola cable while flying at a low altitude during a training mission through the Italian Alps. The gondola crashed to the slopes below, killing 20 multinational tourists who were on board. Captain Ashby was court-martialed on 20 counts of involuntary manslaughter and various other counts involving the destruction of military and civilian property. He was acquitted of all charges by a military jury, following a 5-week trial that cost the U.S. government more than $2 million. The verdict, covered by more news outlets worldwide than the O.J. Simpson acquittal, strained U.S.-Italian diplomatic relations and -- many commentators believe -- led to the early release from U.S. prisons of convicted Italian terrorists.

The lead military defense counsel for Ashby was Major Bill Weber, a UGA law school alumnus who joined the law school as director of advocacy last fall. Weber will lead his moot court and mock trial students in a re-enactment of portions of the trial, utilizing trial transcripts for crucial direct- and cross-examination, displaying trial exhibits, and replaying actual flight simulations demonstrated to the jury.

"I think that a lot of people who heard the verdict went away thinking that the trial was just a sham and that in the end, a bunch of Marine Corps officers simply protected one of their own," said Weber. "That's not true, but that is how the case was portrayed by the media. It's important for people to understand that the military doesn't whitewash things like this. The government just didn't have a case. No trial observer present for the whole proceeding was shocked by the verdict, and now a local audience will be able to examine the prosecution's case and the defense's case and make up their own minds as to whether the acquittal was just."

The morning program on education reform and the afternoon trial re-enactment are the focal points of an entire day of activities billed as "Family Day" at the law school: family members of first-year law students observe classes, tour the facilities, and attend a student awards luncheon.

Law Day/Family Day concludes with a benefit auction at Tasty World, located in downtown Athens at the corner of Broad and Jackson Streets, at 7:30 p.m. Proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Student Bar Association and Equal Justice Foundation, help provide summer stipends for law students who accept fellowships in non-funded public interest law positions. Auction items include a BAR/BRI course; unique activities and items donated by faculty, staff and alumni; local business packages; and UGA sports memorabilia. Tickets to the auction are available at the door.

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