GEORGIA ASSOCIATION OF 

CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS

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GEORGIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS LEGAL EDUCATION FUND "GCDLEF"

At the end of 2008, GACDL formed a non-profit corporation, Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyers Legal Education Fund “GCDLEF”. This is a tax exempt, 501 (c)(3) non-profit corporation formed for the purpose of supporting three GACDL-sponsored educational programs, the Al Horn Scholarship, the Bill Daniel Scholarship, and the Debra Blum Scholarship. All future contributions to these programs should be made to GCDLEF and are fully tax deductible. These contributions enable scholarships to be awarded for criminal defense lawyers to attend these valuable educational programs. 

The Al Horn Scholarship enables deserving criminal defense lawyers in Georgia to attend the National Criminal Defense College in Macon, a two-week, intensive trial practice program held each July and run by Bill Daniel faculty members Natasha Silas and Karen Smolar. A number of GACDL members and attorneys outside of Georgia serve on the faculty of NCDC. The Al Horn Scholarship enables four or five GACDL attorneys each year to attend this program and is designed for experienced lawyers with substantial trial experience and as many as about fifty trials under their belts.

This scholarship program was started in 1985 as a tribute to Atlanta legal legend and founding GACDL member, Al Horn. In addition to being colorful, Al was a dedicated and gifted criminal defense lawyer, practicing out of the Healy Building in downtown Atlanta with current GACDL members Bruce Maloy, Jim Jenkins, current Fulton County Superior Court Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane, Atlanta attorney Amy Totenberg, and others. Al Horn believed in confronting the inequities in the legal system head on. He knew how to fight hard but fair and won the respect of judges and prosecutors. He was a pioneer in attacking “unwinnable” cases with motions to suppress, jury challenges, and motions for independent lab analysis. Al waged a courageous fight with cancer, but died at age 55, long before his time. At his memorial service, Andrew Young said, “Al Horn saw it as his duty in life to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.” Since 1985, the Al Horn Scholarship has helped send approximately 185 GACDL members to NCDC. Donations to assist lawyers in attending NCDC help improve the quality of criminal defense in Georgia and continue to honor the memory of a gifted trial lawyer and even better person, Al Horn. 

The Bill Daniel Scholarship was created in 1999 and now allows 30 criminal defense lawyers to attend a trial advocacy program sponsored by GACDL and held in the fall. This is a four day program designed for criminal defense lawyers with little trial experience. The program was organized by Tony Cueto, a New York criminal defense lawyer and charter member of GACDL. Many fellow GACDL members serve as faculty members for this program. 

Now known as the GACDL Bill Daniel Trial Advocacy Program, this course is named after GACDL founding member William W. “Bill” Daniel whose vision launched GACDL by holding a breakfast meeting at the cafeteria of the First National Bank Building in downtown Atlanta in about 1971. Daniel’s vision for a collegial group of criminal defense lawyers has ultimately grown into our current organization with over 1,800 members.

Daniel later served as Fulton County Superior Court Judge and began publishing Criminal Trial Practice, an essential criminal law reference book which, as Jack Martin once observed, is the “Old Testament”, while Georgia Criminal Law Case Finder, the work of fellow GACDL member, Don Samuel, serves as the “New Testament”. Contributions to the GACDL Bill Daniel Trial Advocacy Program also improve the quality of criminal defense in Georgia, while honoring the name of GACDL founder, Bill Daniel. About 500 scholarships have thus far been awarded to this program. 

The third and most recent scholarship sponsored by GACDL is the Debra Blum Scholarship which began in 2005. This program sponsors a GACDL member in attending a Georgia program based on the New York School of Law’s “Survey of Mental Disability” law, a semester-long course held each fall. The weekend seminar includes a thorough analysis of all aspects of mental health law within the criminal justice system. The last time this was held, 70 criminal defense lawyers and judges were able to attend due to scholarships from the foundation.

This scholarship is named after Debra Blum, a dedicated and talented mental health practitioner in Atlanta. Debra was married to 2016 GACDL President Bob Rubin.  Debra was instrumental in forming the Mental Health Advocacy Division (“MHAD”) of what was then the GIDC. Now known as the Office of Mental Health Advocate, (“OMHA”) oversees the treatment and review process for those acquitted in Georgia courts by reason of insanity. Debra had previously attended the New York School of Law’s mental disability law course and found it valuable. Sabrina Rhinehart, a GACDL member, with the Georgia Public Defenders Council, OMHA now oversees the effort begun by Debra Blum. Quite fittingly, Debra and Sabrina each attended the New York course that we now bring down to Georgia. Debra died in 2005 after waging a lengthy and brutal fight with cancer. Because mental health issues are so often intertwined with criminal defense matters, this scholarship also improves the quality of criminal defense in Georgia, while honoring the memory of Debra Blum.

Each of these scholarships was created to honor the legacy of someone special whose efforts contributed substantially to the quality of criminal defense, while enhancing GACDL in the process. Each donation serves the dual purpose of continuing to improve the quality of criminal defense while honoring individuals whose good works are worthy of remembrance and tribute.

All contributions to GCDLEF support these very worthwhile programs and enable persons to attend who may otherwise not be able to do so. Please donate and make your checks payable to GCDLEF. Contributions should be mailed to GCDLEF, Inc., P.O. Box 68, Decatur, Georgia 30031. Indicate your preference as to which scholarship you wish to support. If you do not indicate a preference, your donation will be divided equally among the three. GCDLEF may also be part of your estate planning. 

Joe Habachy serves as the current Chair of the Board of Directors of GCDLEF. Jim Jenkins is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Foundation. Wes Bryant, Bob Chestney, William C. “Bubba” Head, Doug Peters, Dwight L. Thomas, Jill Travis, and Holly Veal are also members of the board. 


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