Georgia Bar Journal
GSB Vol. 13, NO. 1, Pg. 50.
Cook Says:There is Hope
GSB JournalVol. 13, NO. 1August 2007Cook Says:There is HopeJay CookThe bylaws of the State Bar of Georgia specify the duties of the president. One of the responsibilities is to "deliver a report at the Annual Meeting of the members of the activities of the State Bar during his or her term of office and furnish a copy of the report to the Supreme Court of Georgia." Following is the report from President Jay Cook on his year, 2006-07, delivered June 15, at the State Bar's Annual Meeting.
We have made an admirable dent in the goals I outlined when I accepted the presidential gavel in June 2006: to restore a healthy, balanced vision of the American justice system and the paramount role it plays in preserving and protecting a democratic society.
But I can't and won't take credit for the progress we made. It would not have been possible without the endorsement of the Board of Governors. It would not have been possible without the full support of the Executive Committee. It would not have been possible without the vision and leadership of my predecessors-Rob Reinhardt and Robert Ingram-who saw the need for public education and established the Foundations of Freedom Commission during their presidencies. And it would not have been possible if the Bar's officers-Gerald Edenfield, Jeff Bramlett, Bryan Cavan, and Lester Tate-did not understand that public education must be a permanent fixture in our continuing strategy to safeguard the judiciary's critical role in preserving founding principles and the American way of life.
But getting everybody on board was only the first step. The next step was to resign ourselves to the fact that lawyers aren't always the best communicators. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. Nothing we'd tried thus far was working. We needed expert help and we were lucky to find a rare breed of consultant that both shared our values and understood how to trigger a values-based conversation about American justice. That dialogue, they convinced us, needed to take place on higher ground, under a standard of American values, and through a clear, truthful message that resonates deeply with the public.
We then developed (and tested) a set of core messages that reveal the ways in which the justice system embodies and...