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Forsyths legal community observes Law Day

CUMMING — Awards, scholarships and the celebration of one of the most important documents in history were among the festivities Friday as Forsyth County observed Law Day.

Members of the Forsyth County Bar Association presented the group’s highest honor, the Liberty Bell Award, to the Forsyth County Historical Society, which donated several items to the new courthouse.

“I didn’t expect this, I was just tickled to be here,” said Jimmy McConnell, the society’s co-president. “We were proud to donate the foundations of the American law and government display, help with the collection of the courthouse photos and drawings.”

The theme of this year’s Law Day luncheon, held at the courthouse, was the Magna Carta. The document, signed by King John of England, guaranteed that not even the king was above the law and has had a lasting influence on American law. The Magna Carta was chosen since 2015 is its 800-year anniversary.

The event’s keynote speaker was Patrise Perkins-Hooker, present of the State Bar of Georgia.

“Now you say what difference does it make what happened in 1215? Those principles that were espoused in the Magna Carta came over on the Mayflower, they came over with [James] Oglethorpe [to Georgia], they came over as a set of assumptions of the rights that people would have even in the colonies,” she said.

During the event, Chief Forsyth County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey S. Bagley also commended the local sheriff’s office on its response to the June 6 assault on the former courthouse.

Bagley said his life could have been lost since he had denied a motion by the gunman, Dennis Marx, who was killed in the attack.

“I was pretty sure that I was one of the ones that he was after,” Bagley said. “It was a horrific day, and the sheriff’s office really stood up to the plate and protected all of us.

“It could have been really bad, but everything that could have went wrong for the shooter went wrong, and we’re extremely blessed not to have had any casualties to our courthouse staff.”

Students active in the county’s high school mock trial teams were also recognized during the event. Forsyth Central mock trial team members Amy Zhai and Colin Gardner each received the Kathy Vail Mock Trial Scholarship, which is named in honor of the teacher who helped establish the local program.

Gardner and Lambert High School mock trial team member Rebecca Yan received the Richard B. Neville Scholarship.

The 30thannual scholarships were presented by Neville’s son, Judge Richard Neville.

Lauren Terry, a mock trial coach and graduate of North Forsyth High, also was recognized at the event.