IN THE NEWS:
Lifelong Defender of Civil Liberties
"I Love Problems that Test my Legal Imagination"
For the past 16 years, Gerald R. "Gerry" Weber Jr. (J.D.'89) has devoted his life to the cause of civil liberties and the enforcement of civil rights.
As former legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, an institution he describes as the Constitution's "watchdog and protector," Weber has represented people of all backgrounds who needed help when "the government crossed the constitutional line."
For Weber, any given day at the ACLU included litigation, media interviews and meetings with coalition partners. During his 16 years of service, his biggest accomplishments were "expanding the legal program to one of the biggest in the country and helping so many clients stand tall and fight for their rights."
While he has tried countless cases for the ACLU in both the state and federal trial and appellate courts, in his last year he achieved a record of .842 (16 wins in 19 cases), which is "about as good as it gets in civil rights law." Some of his most memorable cases included representing students in a fifth-grade class who were strip searched to recover a missing $26, a blind man barred from voting because of his disability and a homeless man arrested for "urban camping" who went on to college.
Weber believes the impact of the work done at the ACLU can be fclt across the country. While individuals often label the ACLU a "liberal" group, he thinks the ACLU is all about freedom, and "everyone should relate to that."
"Our Bill of Rights is there for the Iittle guy, the outsider, the unpopular one. I truly believe the ACLU's work breathes life into the Bill of RIghts, and without it, the document would become some nice phrases that make us an feel good about ourselves but never test our tolerance for difference."
While Weber's tenure at the ACLU has ended, it does not mean his career in the Iaw has come to a close. He is currently working part time as senior staff counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights, a public interest law organization dedicated to enforcing the civil and human rights of peop!e in the criminal justice system in the South. In this position, he handles cases dealing with a variety of topics, including a person's right to a Iawyer and the death penaIty, and he hopes to expand the SCHR's work into "new and unchartered seas."
Additionally, he will be devoting more time to his own private practice, the Law Offices of Gerald Weber. Weber's firm, which focuses on Constitutional Law, has represented clients ranging from physicians who object to doctors participating in capital punishment to citizens arrested for monitoring police surveillance. He said he is thrilled to be broadening his practice areas since it has "aIIowed him to spread his wings and challenge himself in new ways."
While Weber's schedule seems rather full, he still finds time to enrich the minds of law students as an adjunct law professor at Emory and Georgia State universities, positions he has held for more than a decade.
For Weber, the law can be defined as one "never-ending learning experience." Whether it has been representing victims of racial profiling to filing a lawsuit to save one of the oldest trees inside Interstate 285, he has always found that the law presents new challenges on a daily basis.
"I love IegaI problems that test your legal imagination. Finding that obscure statute, the antiquated case, the theory that no one has ever tried... it's what makes law a challenge and a creative process."
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