Tuesday, June 29, 2004

WRITER: Tieler Giles, 706/542-5172, lawcomm@uga.edu CONTACT: Heidi Murphy, 706/542-5172, hmurphy@uga.edu


ATHENS, Ga. – The University of Georgia School of Law’s alumni association recently presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award, to attorneys Gary B. Blasingame of Athens, Ga., and James “Jimmy” B. Franklin of Statesboro, Ga. The award is given each year to two deserving individuals who have greatly impacted the legal profession and the law school through exemplary service. The award was presented during the Law School Association’s annual breakfast held in conjunction with the State Bar of Georgia’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, June 19, 2004, in Orlando, Fla.

Fellow law partner and long time friend Henry G. Garrard III presented Blasingame with his award and said, “It’s a rare experience in life to have a good friend who best portrays the generosity and dedication to the practice of law and the desire to serve that is exemplified by [Blasingame].” In addition, Garrard said he has marveled at Blasingame’s ability to maintain such high standards and ethics in the practice of law.

In receiving the award, Blasingame was overcome with emotion. “You cannot know what this means to me,” he said. He then shared how fortunate he’s been to have worked with “great people” throughout his life and said he has done what most “good lawyers do: ‘I’ve surrounded myself with folks a lot smarter than I am.’” He also expressed how those people have contributed to his success. Additionally, Blasingame spoke of his love for Georgia Law and thanked the law school’s alumni association for the award.

Over the years, Blasingame has actively participated in the Law School Association serving as president, treasurer and representative of the group’s governing council. He has served the State Bar of Georgia as a member of its board of governors, disciplinary board and as secretary. He is a member of the Georgia Bar Foundation, having previously held the positions of president and trustee. Blasingame is also affiliated with the American College of Trial Lawyers, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. For 20 years, he has chaired the annual Medical Negligence Seminar presented through the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. In addition, he is a member of Gridiron and the UGA President’s Club, and is past president of the Demosthenian Literary Society.

Blasingame was born in Monroe, Ga., and earned his law degree from Georgia Law in 1961. He completed a clerkship with Judge W.A. Bootle of the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia, and went on to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney for that same district. Blasingame was a Georgia Law faculty member, and eventually entered the private practice of law in Athens with the firm Erwin, Birchmore and Epting (later known as Erwin, Epting, Gibson, McLeod & Blasingame). In 1984, he and four other partners established the firm of Blasingame, Burch, Garrard, Bryant & Ashley, P.C., where he currently practices. Blasingame specializes in the handling of personal injury and other litigation matters.

He and his wife, Dwayne, have three children and six grandchildren. His daughter Janna Custer will be a member of Georgia Law’s entering class this fall.

Presenting Franklin with the association’s highest honor was Georgia Supreme Court Justice George H. Carley. “Throughout his life,” Carley said, “[Franklin] has continued to contribute to and be a leader in local, civic, educational and community affairs, while at the same time serving his profession at both the state and national levels. Overriding his community, professional and political achievements has always been his love of, loyalty to and respect for the University of Georgia School of Law,” he said.

Upon receiving the award, Franklin said that of all the recognitions he’s received in his lifetime, “nothing beats them more” than being presented with the service scroll award. According to Franklin, “The most humbling part of this experience is looking at the list of past recipients and recognizing whom we [he and Blasingame] join.” Before returning to his seat, Franklin issued a call of action to Georgia Law alumni in attendance, “Talk to your classmates and encourage them and others to give the law school the support it deserves.”

Franklin’s contributions to the law school are numerous and include serving as president of the Law School Association and on the institution’s Board of Visitors. He is equally involved in local community, civic and church activities.

Franklin has been involved with the State Bar of Georgia in a variety of positions including: president (2001-02), secretary (1990-92 and 1998-2000), board of governors (1978-89) and executive committee (1988-89, 1990-91, 1998-present). In addition, Franklin has chaired a number of state bar committees including the general counsel overview, evaluation and planning, and the advisory committee on legislation. He is currently president-elect of the Georgia Trial Lawyers’ Association and serves as a trustee of the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia. The Supreme Court of Georgia has honored Franklin with its Amicus Curiae Award, which recognizes distinguished service and contribution to the administration of justice.

Franklin, a native of Statesboro, Ga., and a 1964 Georgia Law graduate was admitted to the bar in 1963, and served two years in the U.S. Army as a contract officer with the U.S. Material Command. In 1966, he associated with the law firm Allen, Edenfield, Brown & Franklin and, in 1974, became senior partner in the firm Franklin, Taulbee, Rushing, Snipes and Marsh, P.C. From 1979 to 1982, he served as a part-time U.S. magistrate for the Southern District of Georgia and, in 1992, was nominated by President George H.W. Bush for a U.S. District Court judgeship.

He and his wife, Fay Foy, have two daughters. Their youngest daughter, Rebecca, graduated from Georgia Law in May 2004.