Friday, January 26, 2007

WRITER: Jessica S. McGahee, 706/542-5172, jmcg@uga.edu
CONTACT: Jessica S. McGahee, 706/542-5172, jmcg@uga.edu

School of Law alumnus selected as clerk by U.S. Supreme Court chief justice

ATHENS, Ga. -- For the third consecutive year, a University of Georgia School of Law alumnus has been selected to serve as a judicial clerk with the U.S. Supreme Court. Jason T. Burnette, a 2006 graduate, was recently selected to serve as a law clerk for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. during the October 2007 term.

"Supreme Court clerkships are extremely competitive positions, indeed they are the most selective positions available to a recent law school graduate," School of Law Dean Rebecca H. White said. "Jason's appointment, which is the third in three years, puts the University of Georgia's law school among a very elite group of law schools that have had a number of graduates serve the court in this manner."

"We are delighted for Jason and feel that his appointment reflects the high caliber of education and training students receive at Georgia Law," White said. "This honor for a law student is the equivalent of a Rhodes Scholarship for a bachelor's degree candidate."

Burnette said he was encouraged to apply for the U.S. Supreme Court clerkship by law school faculty and was further inspired by 2005 Georgia Law alumnus Adam M. Conrad's appointment to serve as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' judicial clerk for the 2006 term.

"I was amazed when I heard I had been selected by Chief Justice Roberts. I was thrilled just to get the interview," Burnette said. "I am looking forward to having an inside view of the Supreme Court and seeing how it comes to reach decisions on the many difficult issues it addresses."

A native of Holly Springs, Ga., Burnette also earned his bachelor's degree in English from UGA. He is currently serving as a judicial clerk for Judge R. Lanier Anderson III of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. During law school, he served as editor in chief of the Georgia Law Review, participated in moot court competitions and served as a teaching and research assistant.

University Professor and J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law Dan T. Coenen, a former U.S. Supreme Court judicial clerk, taught Burnette in contracts and constitutional law classes. "Jason exemplifies everything that is commendable in a young lawyer - sterling character, concern for others, a searching mind, exceptional intelligence and an uninflated sense of self. I am delighted that Chief Justice Roberts saw in Jason the same extraordinary qualities that I witnessed over and over again during his time at the UGA School of Law," he said.

Anne Proffitt Dupre, also a Hosch Professor at Georgia Law and a former U.S. Supreme Court judicial clerk, said that this appointment will open many doors for Jason as he continues his legal career. "Jason will have a credential and an experience that very few others can match," she said.

By statute, each of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices can have up to four clerks per term. A typical appointment is for a period of one year.

This clerkship selection brings the total number of School of Law graduates who have clerked for Supreme Court judges to seven. The other six Georgia Law alumni who have aided justices sitting on the nation's highest court are:
Benna R. Solomon, a 1978 graduate who clerked for Justice Bryon R. White in 1980;
Bruce P. Brown, a 1984 graduate who clerked for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger in 1986;
Glen M. Darbyshire, a 1984 graduate who clerked for Justice Thurgood Marshall in 1985;
Dupre, a 1988 graduate who clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun in 1989;
John H. Longwell, a 1999 graduate who clerked Justice Stephen Breyer in 2005; and
Conrad, a 2005 graduate who is clerking for Justice Clarence Thomas.

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