Turns Out, Roy Barnes Was Right

Turns Out, Roy Barnes Was Right. Opinion by Rabbi Steven Lebow and Published by AJC.COM

Barnes, the last great Georgia Governor of the 20th century, lobbied to change the Georgia flag in 2001.

Barnes wanted to replace the Georgia flag which contained the Southern Battle Flag, the Stars and Bars.
A gaggle of Georgians insisted that the Southern Battle Flag was not based on racism, but merely on a love for the Old South.

They were ignoring, of course, that the Confederate symbol had only been added to the Georgia flag in 1956 as a protest against Brown v. Board of Education – the case that outlawed segregation in public schools.

The old Stars and Bars, according to some Georgians, was merely displaying their affection for the “Old South.” They must’ve been repressing the fact that the “Old South” was an agrarian society that was founded on the backs of African Americans.

Barnes, however, knew better.

In late 2000 he approached business and civil rights leaders to get support for his plan to change the flag. The change would proclaim to the world at large that Georgia actively wanted to rescind its heritage of racism.

Barnes won the initial battle. Even conservative lawmakers, standing in the well of the state house, admitted that Georgia’s history of racism must be abandoned.

A new flag, designed by architect Cecil Alexander, reduced the size of the Confederate symbol and positioned it as just one of many early flags.

Barnes’ noble cause gave rise to a furious opposition. For months the Governor was accompanied everywhere he went by “flaggers”, protestors who waved the original Confederate flag and who shouted curses whenever Barnes was visible.

The narrative might have ended there except that Barnes faced stern opposition in the 2004 election. His opponent, Sonny Purdue, used the issue of the flag to inflame Georgians and to convince native southerners that Barnes had somehow abandoned them.

The fight over the flag was responsible, in part, for Barnes’ defeat in that election.
Barnes won the battle, but lost the war.

Under the new governor a flag which contained the Confederate Stars and Bars was established as the new Georgia symbol.

I thought of the fight to replace the Georgia flag just this week as it was announced that NASCAR would ban the Confederate flag.

NASCAR? Really?

The quintessential sport for white southerners was actually banning the symbol of racism, the Confederate flag?

My, my. How times have changed.

At last, in 2020, the South was ready to eschew their heritage of hate. We were ready to rid ourselves of a noxious symbol that glorified systemic racism.

After his loss Governor Barnes said to me “Racism is still the third rail of politics.”
Barnes defeat was the end of his political career. His critics claimed that the Confederate flag would live on forever.

This week’s news proves them wrong. Things in the South are ready to change.

It turns out, Barnes was right after all.

Rabbi Steven Lebow, Senior Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Kol Emeth

BLG Supports Georgia’s Hate Crimes Legislation, HB 426

John Salter Speaks to WSB-TV, 4/1/2020

We are pleased that Judge Gregory A. Adams, Superior Court of DeKalb County, granted class action status.

Click this link to view WSB-TV’s interview with John Salter

BLG Congratulates our Super Lawyers

Congratulations to our great team of Super Lawyers! Only a small percentage of lawyers in the state are selected to receive this prestigious honor! We are proud of you guys! Roy Barnes, John Salter, John Bevis and Cam Tribble.

BLG Prevails in Critical Affordable Housing Case Before the Georgia Supreme Court

Barnes Law Group secured a unanimous victory before the Georgia Supreme Court in a case that will positively impact the availability of affordable housing throughout the state of Georgia. In Heron Lake II Apartments, LP et al. v. Lowndes County Board of Tax Assessors, BLG represented a group of 8 partnerships who operate affordable housing apartment complexes built with the assistance of federal tax credits. At issue was the ad valorem tax treatment of the federal tax credits. The Lowndes County Board of Assessors sought to appraise the tax credits as if they were the dollar-for-dollar equivalent of rental income, and argued that a recently passed Georgia statute which would have limited their approach was unconstitutional because it violated Georgia’s taxation uniformity clause. Had the County been successful, it likely would have pushed many of the partnerships that operate affordable housing complexes across the state into unprofitability and reduced the construction of new affordable housing units. BLG successfully argued that the tax credits should not be treated the same as more traditional income sources like rent and that the Georgia statute limiting the application of certain appraisal approaches to the tax credits was a proper exercise of the General Assembly’s policymaking authority. Roy Barnes argued the case and John Bartholomew was on the briefs.


Click here to view The Georgia Supreme Court’s opinion

BLG Files Suit against the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Barnes Law Group is representing the family of Joelle Dalgleish in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”). Joelle was a bright and promising young woman who was killed by a dead tree after it fell on her at Red Top Mountain State Park on May 19, 2017. An investigation conducted by DNR after Joelle’s death revealed that the fallen tree was dead and lacked a viable root system to hold the tree in the ground. Joelle’s death could have been prevented if the DNR followed their own practices and procedures to identify and remove dead and dying trees from the public use areas of the park. The family’s focus is to ensure that what happened to Joelle doesn’t happen to anyone else.


Georgia Files Lawsuit to Combat Opioid Crisis

Barnes Law Group is proud to join Attorney General Chris Carr and others on behalf of the State of Georgia in filing a lawsuit to combat the Opioid epidemic.  For more information, please see the Press Release noted below and a copy of the filed complaint.

Attorney General Press Release

State of Georgia v. Purdue Pharma, et al.





Carr Announces Selection of Legal Team to Assist in Opioid Investigation and Litigation

ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr today announced that he has selected outside private counsel to serve as co-counsel in an investigation and litigation involving the manufacture, marketing, sale and distribution of prescription opioid products in the state of Georgia. John Bevis of the Barnes Law Group will be appointed as Special Assistant Attorneys General (SAAGs) pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 45-15-4. The Barnes Law Group will work in conjunction with The Cooper Firm, Franklin Law, LLC and Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. 

“As Attorney General, I have dedicated every available resource our office has to fight the opioid epidemic – whether by increasing communication and coordination through our Statewide Opioid Task Force, cracking down on illegal prescribing through our Medicaid Fraud Control Unit or conducting training opportunities for law enforcement and prosecutors through our national partnerships,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “As my office pursues legal action against those who may have had a role in fueling this epidemic, I feel very strongly that this legal team’s combined experience and expertise will help put our legal team in the best position to ensure the interests of Georgians are protected.” 

Qualified attorneys were invited to submit proposals to the Office of the Attorney General on or before Friday, May 18, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. to include the following information: educational and professional background; particular abilities and experience relevant to representation of the Georgia Department of Law for purposes of conducting the investigation and litigation; the firm’s experience with the pharmaceutical industry; state consumer protection laws, including the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act; Medicaid and false claims laws; damage and economic loss recovery; the firm’s trial and appellate experience; and the firm’s arrangements for large and complex litigation matters (including the adequacy of financial resources for such litigation).

The Attorney General and staff reviewed 20 proposals. After reviewing, the Attorney General invited seven in for an interview before making a final decision.

A portion of each selected firm’s “About” section is listed below for reference. You can learn more about the firms by visiting their respective websites.

Barnes Law Group

The attorneys at Barnes Law Group have the unique charge of Making It Right for the citizens of Georgia and across the country. They are an unrelenting collection of individual talents that make up one of the most powerful and varied groups of litigators that always fall on the side of consumer advocacy and the rights of the individual. Our legal team is made up of the best legal minds in Georgia.  Our lawyers and experienced staff have literally spent decades working in both the public and private sectors on behalf of those who have been wronged by others’ actions.  As a result, Barnes Law Group is highly regarded as a top national law firm that provides results for our clients.

The Cooper Firm

We are a personal injury and wrongful death law firm that has successfully won multi-million dollar awards and settlements on behalf of our clients nationwide. Lance Cooper founded The Cooper Firm in 2006. With experience in substantial personal injury and wrongful death cases, he has represented plaintiffs in numerous civil jury trials and has successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases and gained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. Mr. Cooper has built a practice that brings together a team that combines legal expertise and compassion to ensure clients receive the benefits of a large firm with the personal attention of a small firm. With this in mind, The Cooper Firm represents a select few clients in order to ensure that each client receives the attention they deserve.

Franklin Law, LLC

Franklin Law is a Georgia law firm operated by the father-daughter team, James (“Jimmy”) B. Franklin and Rebecca Franklin Harris. Franklin Law was formed by Rebecca in 2009 and Jimmy joined as Of-Counsel to the firm several years later. Together, the duo brings more than 65 years of experience in representing individual clients, businesses, and government entities. Specifically, the duo has substantial experience in product liability litigation and other complex matters.

Beasley Allen Law Firm

In 1979, Jere Locke Beasley founded the firm, which is now known as Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, P.C. The firm represents plaintiffs and claimants in civil litigation. The firm employs more than 75 lawyers and over 200 support staff. Our primary offices are based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama, although we work with attorneys and clients throughout the country. Our Atlanta office focuses on cases in the state of Georgia and especially in the metro area. Beasley Allen represents plaintiffs and claimants in the following areas: Business Litigation, Personal Injury and Product Liability, Medical Devices and Drugs, Fraud, Employment Law, and Environmental. Our attorneys are leaders in complex litigation in courtrooms around the U.S., including state and federal courts. Our attorneys and cases have been profiled in major national media such as Time Magazine, Business Week, Fortune Magazine, Forbes.com, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, New York Times, National Law Journal, New Orleans Times-Picayune, CNBC’s “The Closing Bell,” 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, Headline News, NBC’s “Today Show,” MSNBC, ABC’s “Good Morning America” Fox News and Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” We have also represented clients testifying before U.S. Congressional committees on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Read more by clicking the link above.

UPDATE to DeKalb TSA Plan Litigation

On June 1, 2018, the Georgia Court of Appeals issued an Opinion that (1) overturned the dismissal of Plaintiffs’ claims; (2) determined that the District is liable as  a matter of law for breaching its legal duty to the employees; (3) ruled the Plaintiffs were entitled to judgment on liability in their favor, with only issues of damages calculations remaining for trial by jury; and (4) ruled that the trial court must reconsider class certification in light of this Opinion.


Georgia Watch Challenges Public Service Commission

On behalf of Georgia Watch, Barnes Law Group has filed a petition to contest in court a decision of the Georgia Public Service Commission approving the continuation of the Vogtle nuclear expansion project despite a near doubling of the original budget, expansive execution risks due to a recent bankruptcy and a five-year delay of commercial operation. According to the filing, the Commission’s decision violates Georgia law and the Commission’s own rules. “In both process and outcome, the PSC unfairly tilted the scales in favor of Georgia Power’s shareholders,” says John Salter, an attorney at the Barnes Law Group who is representing Georgia Watch along with former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes.