Trailblazing State Supreme Court Justice to Appear in Bremerton Saturday

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Georgia Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham recently told a reporter. “Just find the wheel that has the broken spoke.”

Benham, a four-term justice on the Georgia Supreme Court, is a trailblazing judge whose record reflects his belief that public service can highlight and help correct injustices — such broken spokes — in communities.

Benham, here in Bremerton Saturday to speak before a crowd at the local NAACP chapter’s annual freedom fund event, broke many barriers: He was the first African American to establish his own law practice in his home county. First to be elected as a court of appeals judge. And then the first to serve on Georgia’s highest court.

Now 63, Benham leads by example. You name it, he serves on the board. He started a “comprehensive legal education program,” which has helped more than 200 minority students go to law school. He’s been honored with more than 400 awards, and the State Bar of Georgia’s community service award bears his name. Ebony Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential blacks in America.

The result of a little networking last year brought Benham to Bremerton.

Bremerton NAACP Chapter president Joan Ferebee and second vice president Denita Harden-Patton met Benham at the NAACP’s centennial celebration in New York in February 2009. Ferebee and the judge exchanged cards at that time.

Early this year, Ferebee asked if he’d come — and Benham accepted.

Ferebee said in no uncertain terms that the justice is the cream of the crop in terms of guests they’ve hosted.

“He ranks at the top,” she said.

Benham will speak at 7 p.m. tonight at the Comfort Inn and Suites Olympic Ballroom, 5640 Kitsap Way. Tickets are $50 for adults and $25 for youth ages six to 13. The dinner also includes dinner and dancing.

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