GTLA President Lyle Warshauer’s Statement on Racial Injustice

GTLA President Lyle Warshauer’s Statement on Racial Injustice
Jun 5, 2020

A Statement from the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association

The recent, tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and too many other Black Americans whose names are not in the national headlines, demand that we take a hard look at the racial injustice that has permeated our society for far too long. We must fully recognize that, for much of our nation’s history, Black Americans and other minorities have largely been deprived of the fundamental right of equality. We cannot allow this to continue.

The Georgia Trial Lawyers Association (GTLA) is an organization committed to the principles of justice and the imperative that all persons are equal under the law. This includes the preservation of the right to trial by jury for all who suffer injustice, no matter whether by those in a position of power or otherwise, to seek redress for those wrongs. No one, regardless of race, should have his or her civil rights subdued by the power of government or individuals.

Yet, our justice system has been throttled by practices that disproportionately affect black communities – practices like qualified immunity that in effect make police officers judge, jury, and executioner.  These practices go against everything our organization strives to uphold.

When an attorney is admitted to practice law in the State of Georgia, he or she must take the following Oath: “I swear that I will truly and honestly, justly and uprightly conduct myself as a member of this learned profession and in accordance with the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct, as an attorney and counselor, and that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Georgia.  So help me God.”  If there is ever a time to be reminded of this sworn Oath, it is now.

As we navigate the challenges before us, it is important that we acknowledge the pain of those who have been denied equality and justice under the law.  We must listen to, and learn from, their perspectives and personal experiences.  And then we must act.  This is a time for solidarity.  Those of us who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States and of the State of Georgia must commit to end racial injustice.

Words are not enough, but thoughts give rise to action.  The words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. implore us not to stay silent now: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal . . . Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about the things that matter . . . in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

As part of our commitment to the fundamental principle of equal justice for all, the leadership of GTLA must not stay silent now.  We ask our members to join us in engaging, learning, and acting on behalf of our fellow members and our fellow citizens in this most important fight to eradicate racism and injustice – as the mission of GTLA calls us to do.

Lyle Griffin Warshauer

GTLA President, 2020-2021