GSB Vol. 17, NO. 1, Pg. 54. A Truck Wreck Lawyer Faces the 'Truck Wreck' of the Judicial System After Years of Court Budget Cuts.

Authorby Linton Johnson

Georgia Bar Journal

Volume 17.

GSB Vol. 17, NO. 1, Pg. 54.

A Truck Wreck Lawyer Faces the 'Truck Wreck' of the Judicial System After Years of Court Budget Cuts

GSB JournalVol. 17, NO. 1August 2011A Truck Wreck Lawyer Faces the 'Truck Wreck' of the Judicial System After Years of Court Budget Cutsby Linton JohnsonAs the newly installed 49th president of the State Bar of Georgia, Ken Shigley knows to expect the unexpected. Having served on the Executive Committee for the past four years, he had a front-row seat as his predecessors dealt with the almost-daily surprises that come with the job and require thoughtful but often swift decisions that will have an impact on the interests of more than 42,000 members.

Some of the issues will undoubtedly be more difficult than others. But if crisis management does become necessary, Shigley will benefit from formative experience gained long before he joined the Bar or even cracked open his first law school book.

In 1967, shortly after a federal judge ordered the combination of the formerly segregated high schools in Douglasville, the student council officers of Douglas County High School gathered around a ping-pong table in the Shigley family's basement. Younger generations might view that era through the movie "Mississippi Burning" and documentaries about the civil rights movement.

The group included two 16-year-old juniors, Shigley and current Douglasville attorney Joe Fowler. "We went through the school directory and identified the students most likely to have a disruptive reaction," Shigley said. "Then we divided that list according to which of us had a rapport with each one. Our plan was to call them and gauge their reactions. Most accepted it, though perhaps reluctantly. A few talked about what they were going to do with ax handles, switchblades and the like. Our script was to let them talk until they ran out of steam and then slowly respond with, 'You know, that's just what they want you to do.' Invariably those few responded, 'I never thought about that.'"

"Perhaps that helped let the steam off a few hotheads who reflected their parents' prejudices. In any event, we had no problems with the students during desegregation, even though the Klan was still active in the area," said Shigley. "But when I said that in 100 years race wouldn't matter and suggested integrating the 1968 prom-which wound up being held the weekend after Martin Luther King's funeral-there was a lot of pushback."

A few months later, the same group of student leaders approached the school board about proposing a bond issue to expand school facilities and organized a door-to-door student campaign to win passage. A year later, when Shigley was student council president and Fowler was senior class president, the process was repeated. "We got some schools built, and the facilities of our high school campus roughly...

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