Verdict - Summer 2015 - (Page 7)

> PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE GTLA Membership is Worth Your Investment BY DARREN PENN I challenge each of you to find an area within the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association in which you can get involved. GTLA has over 15 different committees - including Legislative, Amicus, Membership, Verdict Editorial Board and many others - and we are constantly looking for motivated individuals to join them. IT WAS NEVER MY goal to become the president of of direct assaults on our Civil Justice System and the the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. In fact, it was Constitutional Right to Trial by Jury by those who were never my goal to be a trial lawyer when I enrolled in law elected and entrusted by Georgia citizens to - ironically school. But, when I made the decision back in 1997 to enough - protect their rights under the Gold Dome. It leave the world of insurance defense and pursue a career did not take long for me, and many of my brothers and representing the rights of injured Georgians, I learned sisters in the plaintiffs' bar, to begin to wonder who that there was no organization in the state that would and how many among us were really watching out for provide more opportunities to further my legal career the best interests of our injured citizens across the and better myself as a lawyer than GTLA. state. While it is true that the Civil Justice System is For the first few years in my plaintiffs' practice, I was not always perfect in each and every case, the system a lawyer that belonged to this organization called GTLA as originally designed, is perfect. It is the only place in because that is what plaintiffs' lawyers are supposed our world where all persons and corporations, great and to do, right? I took part in a few happy hours here and small, stand on an equal footing and have the opportunity there, made sure that I attended the Annual Convention to seek justice. And, in most instances, justice is deter- each year to satisfy my CLE requirements and generally mined by fellow citizens in the form of juries. assumed the effort of others was surely adequate when it By 2005, when the Georgia General Assembly passed came to protecting our clients' rights at the State Capitol. Senate Bill 3 - the most sweeping 'tort reform' bill in Like many others, I assumed that everything would be Georgia history - I knew it was no longer acceptable to fine and we could go on practicing law and building simply sit on the sidelines and assume that others would our careers. After all, my practice was going well, so "take care of it" for us. A question reverberated in my why spend the effort when others would take care of mind: "How could I have been so complacent and just everything? It was not until 2003 or 2004 when that all assumed that someone else would make sure it would began to change, and I realized how blind I had been. be okay?" From that point forward, it was clear that if As the political environment in Georgia shifted con- we, as the plaintiffs' bar, failed to step up and take a siderably during the early 2000s, so too did the number proactive stance on the many issues that have such a profound effect on our clients' rights and our profession, then we could simply cease to exist. One lesson I learned - and learned quickly - from my experience on the outside looking in at GTLA is this: it is not okay to simply sit back and wait for someone else to invite you to get involved with our Association and our causes. 'Tort reform' woke me up, but it should not have had to - I should have already been awake and engaged. Ten years later, I must say that I am deeply humbled to have been chosen by you to lead our Association into its 60th year. I am grateful to follow in the footsteps of those before me such as Linley Jones, Buck Rogers, Jay Sadd, Geoff Pope and so many others who have laid an unbelievable foundation upon which we are able to continue building. I am also thankful to my law partners, my law firm and my family for their encouragement and support as I take the reins of this prestigious organization. When Buck was elected president two years ago, he said something that stuck with me: One year is but a short time to affect much lasting change. However, I Summer 2015 7

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Verdict - Summer 2015

President’s Message
GTLA President’s Gala
Trying a Sex Abuse Case Against a Local Church in a Conservative Venue
New Strategies and Interventions to Curtail Discovery Abuses
High-Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent Bystanders
When One Award is Not Enough
Three Strategies to Fend off a Funding Attack
Recent Updates to Georgia Suggested Pattern Jury Instructions (Civil), July 2013 – Present
The Hidden Predator Act: How House Bill 17 Will Impact Victims’ Rights in Georgia
New Lawyers’ Corner: Trying a Low-Damage Jury Case
Professional Practice Pointers: Updates on E-filing, the Court of Appeals, and a New Traffic Division in DeKalb State
Case Updates: What’s New?
Workers’ Comp Updates
Notes: What’s New with GTLA Members
Welcome New GTLA Members!
Index to Advertisers

Verdict - Summer 2015