Thursday, September 24, 1998

WRITER: Kathy R. Pharr, (706) 542-5172

CONTACT: Marc Galvin, (706) 542-0335


ATHENS, Ga. - The Supreme Court of Georgia will hear three cases at the University of Georgia School of Law Friday, October 9 in the Hatton Lovejoy Courtroom. Arguments in each case, to consist of approximately 50 minutes, will be held at 9:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The hearings are open free to the public, but due to limited seating in the courtroom, registration for attendance is being taken by Student Affairs Director Marc Galvin at (706) 542-0335.

This is the fourth time the Court has been in session at the law school. The justices attempt to travel to each of the state's four ABA-accredited law schools - Georgia, Emory, Mercer and Georgia State - within a three-year period as scheduling permits. They were last at UGA in 1993.

"The visit exposes law students to the workings of the Supreme Court," said Sherie Welch, clerk of court. "They can see first-hand what lawyers actually do when they argue a case before the justices. It's also important for Georgia citizens to have a chance to observe the court at work, and these law school visits increase that access."

The 9:30 case, Georgia Dept. of Transportation v. Cannady, regards the state's appeal of the awarding of damages to a 66-year-old woman who argued that the DOT's negligent maintenance of a road in Bulloch County contributed to the extensive injuries she received in a car wreck when a truck hydroplaned and careened into her path. The state argues the wreck was solely the truck driver's fault, the road was properly maintained, and that the lower court erred when it allowed into evidence the DOT's improvements to the road after the accident.

The 10:30 case, Fogarty v. State of Georgia, regards the "Good Samaritan Stalker" in Gwinnett, who slashed the tires of female shoppers, then offered to change the tires for them. The appellant was convicted of kidnaping one woman at knife point, but contends his trial lawyer was ineffective due to the conflict of interest caused by an illegal contingency fee contract which was entered for representation: refund of a substantial portion of the retainer fee should the case be dismissed and other suspects identified. The appellant contends that the lawyer ignored evidence which would have cleared him. The state argues the contract was valid, based not on the contingency of a favorable outcome but on the amount of time and service required in the case, and that representation was sufficient.

The final case heard at 11:30, Savannah College of Art & Design, Inc. v. School of Visual Arts, Inc., concerns the schools' efforts to overturn the ruling of a lower court which has ordered the release to the press of confidential details of the settlement which ended three years of bitter litigation between them. In a subsequent civil action, the settlement details were filed with the court, and the Southeastern Newspapers Corp. (Savannah Morning News) then filed a motion to view the documents. The paper argues that the public's interest in openness of court proceedings outweighs the privacy interests asserted by the schools.

Alumni from the University of Georgia School of Law will be arguing in all three of these high-profile cases.

**Media rules established for covering proceedings of the Supreme Court of Georgia are attached. Photographers should pay particular attention.