January 13, 2012
ATLANTA – Georgia State University College of Law Professor Paul S. Milich is the first recipient of the State Bar of Georgia’s Award for Excellence in Legal Scholarship, which honors law professors in Georgia for achievements that truly advance the practice of law for Georgia attorneys.
Milich was recognized "for his outstanding job in drafting, explaining and advocating" Georgia's recent evidence code rewrite legislation. As a reporter for the State Bar of Georgia's Evidence Study Committee, Milich worked for many years to draft new rules of evidence for the state, which has been using a code passed in 1860, well before anyone had ever heard of videos, phones, computers or even Facebook.
The award is not an annual award, but instead is only given only in those years where a recipient has so distinguished him or herself. The Executive Committee, by unanimous voice vote, approved making this award in the form of a Board of Governors Resolution expressing the State Bar's appreciation to Milich for his legal scholarship and long-standing service in connection with the evidence code rewrite project.
Milich first began working on the new rules in 1986 and has seen the effort come up on the short end of Georgia politics numerous times in the past 25 years.
On May 3, 2011, Milich watched as Gov. Nathan Deal, who was President pro tem of the Senate when a rewriting of the state's evidence code was considered in 1991, signed the bill passed by the Legislature into law. Georgia is now in line with 43 other states that have adopted a modern code based on the Federal Rules of Evidence.
The new rules, which go into effect January, 1, 2013, will mean a lot for Georgia, including:
Milich and the bill's proponents spent the entire summer in 2008 working with a joint Senate-House study committee going line by line through the bill, answering questions, public comments, and comments from every segment of the bar as well. In 2010, the bill got through the House and died in the Senate Rules Committee as time ran out on the session.
Last year, HB 24 passed the House overwhelmingly (162-5) and passed the Senate (50-3) on the last day of the legislative session.
"We've basically gotten back in step with the rest of the country, and that's gratifying because there's no need for Georgia to be a straggler and we're really wasting a lot of time and money with those rules," explained Milich, who is now working on efforts to train judges and lawyers on the new evidence code.
"These new rules are slicker; they're going to be more efficient, more economical. They're going to make it easier for us to do the business of trying cases."
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