Athens, Ga. – Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court Leah Ward Sears will deliver the University of Georgia’s 24th annual Holmes-Hunter Lecture. Open free to the public, the lecture will be held at 3 p.m. April 9 in the UGA Chapel.
“Justice Sears is a distinguished and influential member of the Georgia community and a friend to the University of Georgia,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “We are excited that she will join us for this special occasion.”
Sears is the first woman to serve as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. She was the first black woman to serve as a superior court judge in Georgia after her 1988 election to the Fulton County Superior Court. Sears also is the first woman and youngest person ever to serve on the Georgia Supreme Court since her 1992 appointment by Gov. Zell Miller. In retaining her appointed position as a supreme court justice, Sears became the first woman in Georgia to win a contested statewide election. She has served as chief justice since July 2005.
Sears’ major initiatives as chief justice are the court’s Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law and the Committee on Civil Justice. The Commission on Children, Marriage and Family Law was established to address the legal and administrative issues stemming from the increasing fragmentation of Georgia’s families. The Committee on Civil Justice was established to develop, coordinate and support policy initiatives to expand access to the courts for poor and vulnerable Georgians.
Sears received a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1976, a law degree from Emory University School of Law in 1980 and a master’s degree in appellate judicial process from the University of Virginia in 1995.
Prior to joining the bench, Sears was an attorney with the law firm of Alston and Bird.
Established in 1985, the Holmes-Hunter Lecture honors Charlayne Hunter-Gault and the late Hamilton Holmes, who in 1961 became the first African-American students to enroll at UGA. Lecture speakers focus on race relations, black history or aspects of higher education with implications for race relations.