Tuesday, June 22, 1999

Writer: Matt Haney, (706) 542-5172

Contact: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172, pharr@jd.lawsch.uga.edu


ATHENS, Ga. -- The University of Georgia Law School Alumni Association presented its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Scroll Award, to Governor Roy E. Barnes and Judge Aaron Cohn of Columbus during the group's annual breakfast meeting in Savannah on June 17. The award is given each year to two individuals whose services to the legal profession and to the UGA School of Law are worthy of special recognition.

J. Alton Hosch Professor Ron Ellington, a former law school dean who taught the governor in the early 1970s, presented the award to his former student. He recalled Barnes' days as president of the Student Bar Association and remembered being impressed by Barnes' willingness to take a stand for justice. Even then, Ellington said, he recognized Barnes as someone "who was going to make a mark."

"Roy Barnes is a lawyer's lawyer. He is proud to be a lawyer, and he represents what is best in our profession," said Ellington. "He has prepared himself superbly to serve the people of Georgia. He is going to be one of our greatest governors."

Barnes received both his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Georgia, then became a prosecutor in the Cobb County District Attorney's Office. In 1975, he went into private practice in Cobb County and continued his law firm affiliation until his election as governor. His political career began two years after he graduated from law school, when at age 26, he was elected to the first of eight terms in the Georgia Senate. After four years in the Senate, Barnes was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and in 1983, was chosen by Governor Joe Frank Harris to be the administration floor leader, a position he held until 1989. Following an unsuccessful bid for the governorship in 1990, Barnes resumed his political career by being elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1993.

Barnes has been a successful businessman, banker, and an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Marietta, as well as a participant in civic organizations throughout Cobb County. He has served his alma mater as a representative to the UGA Law School Alumni Association Council and as a member of the Board of Visitors.

"I always tell young lawyers: allow the philosophy of the law to wrap over you -- the mercy and the justice -- allow that to lap over, because that's what has made our system what it is today," Barnes said during his acceptance speech. "In preserving the law, we preserve America."

Barnes is married to the former Marie Dobbs, and they have three children.

Aaron Cohn was appointed to the bench in 1965 as judge of the Juvenile Court of Muscogee County, a position he still holds. He has been in private practice in Columbus since 1946 and now is the senior partner of the law firm Cohn & Cohn, P.C., where he practices with his son.

His award was presented by long-time friend Ed Sprouse, a partner in the Columbus law firm of Page, Scranton, Sprouse, Tucker & Ford, P.C. "Judge Cohn's lifetime of accomplishment and commitment to our judicial system, our youth, our community, state and nation make him a most worthy recipient of the University of Georgia Law School Distinguished Service Scroll," said Sprouse.

Cohn received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1938 and was admitted to the Georgia Bar that same year. In 1940, he volunteered for the United States Army and served on active duty until 1946. During that time he served with the 3rd U.S. Armored Cavalry in Europe under General Patton, engaged in four major campaigns and was decorated for his service as combat operations officer. After 27 years of active and inactive duty, Cohn retired from the Army Reserve with the rank of colonel.

Cohn has served as president of the Columbus Lawyers Club (now the Columbus Bar Association, Inc.), president of the Georgia Council of Juvenile Court Judges, and president of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. He has served on the UGA law school's Board of Visitors, been an executive board member of the Chattahoochee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, chairman of the March of Dimes, and superintendent of Sunday School and president of Temple Israel. In recognition of his superlative civic involvement, Cohn was awarded the 1996 James W. Woodruff, Jr. Memorial Award by the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, described by Sprouse as "the highest honor that may be bestowed on a citizen of Columbus for lifetime commitment to community service."

"Today is a day of gratitude for my family and me," said Cohn. "I am grateful to my great and glorious alma mater which has enabled me to have a full professional life in the city, county, state, and country that I love so dearly. I am humbled and greatly honored."

Cohn is married to the former Janet Ann Lilienthal. They have three children and seven grandchildren.