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September 9, 2002

Gambrell gift to upgrade 'electronic classroom'

By Elaine Justice

The School of Law has received a $250,000 gift from Atlanta attorney and Emory Law School Council member David Gambrell to provide initial funding for the first phase of a teaching and courtroom technology project.

The gift will fund new teaching technology in classrooms, and the law school’s Tuttle Courtroom will become an “electronic courtroom” containing state-of-the-art computer and court-reporting equipment, said new Dean Tom Arthur. Law students will be trained in the technology and trial skills needed in the modern electronic courtroom.

In planning for the electronic courtroom, Peter Hay, former interim law school dean, was advised by two Emory law alumni, U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stan Birch, ’70L, and U.S. District Court Judge Owen Forrester, ’66L. Birch said the new technology at Emory mirrors similar developments at the federal level, where recent guidelines for new court facilities call for infrastructure that supports computer-assisted presentations.

“More and more practitioners are finding the use of computer-assisted presentation to be jury friendly and to provide an adversarial edge,” Birch said. “We want Emory law graduates to be at the forefront of any adversarial advantage they can gain.”

The first phase of the courtroom renovation will begin this fall when computer and court reporting technology is added to the courtroom to enable the use and display of electronic evidence, and the participation of witnesses from a remote location.

In addition to the courtroom, the law school plans to enhance classrooms with state-of-the-art computer, video and telecommunications equipment. According to Arthur, the school is seeking additional funding to install computer displays at every juror’s station and to add teaching technology to several more classrooms.

Gambrell, who represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate from 1971–72, is partner at Gambrell & Stolz. He is former president of both the Atlanta Bar and the State Bar of Georgia. The gift is his second for courtroom and technology enhancements at the law school; in 1987 he made a gift to add state-of-the-art video equipment to the courtroom. Gambrell Hall, which houses the law school, is named for Gambrell’s grandparents, Enoch Pepper and Macie Latimer Gambrell.

“Senator Gambrell’s generous gift to the law school reflects and continues the enlightened vision of his distinguished father, Smythe Gambrell,” Birch said.