King & Spalding partner Michael Raeber moving to executive director of legal affairs at UGA, February 2014. Handout photo received 12/2013.
King & Spalding partner Michael Raeber moving to executive director of legal affairs at UGA, February 2014. Handout photo received 12/2013. (handout)

After a national search, the University of Georgia has chosen King & Spalding partner Michael Raeber as its executive director of legal affairs, effective Feb. 1. Raeber is a 1993 graduate of the UGA School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the Georgia Law Review. He joined King & Spalding in 1994 after clerking for Justice George Smith of the Georgia Supreme Court and Judge Stanley Birch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

A business litigator, Raeber was able to free James “Country” Parkerson from Dooly State Prison in 2010, where the Hawkinsville man had been serving a life sentence for a murder he said he did not commit. Raeber’s mother, Carol Raeber, had become Parkerson’s penpal and told her son about the case, according to a report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Parkerson admitted being on the scene but said it was his roommate, Chip Thorpe, who stabbed a guest, Ira Morris, 51 times with a small-blade knife in 1993. Thorpe became a witness for the prosecution and testified that Parkerson killed Morris.

Raeber was able to win a new trial for Parkerson, arguing that his client received ineffective counsel at his first trial, then negotiated a plea with the Albany district attorney, Joe Mulholland, for voluntary manslaughter. Parkerson was released on time served.

Raeber is on the board of directors of KIPP Metro Atlanta, which is part of a national network of charter schools for low-income students and volunteers for the Truancy Intervention Project Georgia.

A former staffer to Gov. Nathan Deal, Blake Ashbee, will join McKenna Long & Aldridge‘s state government affairs team on Jan. 6. Ashbee is the executive director of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, after serving as the organization’s general counsel. He was deputy chief operating officer and deputy executive counsel to Deal from 2011 to 2012, after receiving a law degree from the University of Alabama in 2011. Ashbee will join McKenna as counsel.

Isabelle Dinerman has joined Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton as an associate from Baker & McKenzie‘s New York office. Dinerman handles corporate and securities matters.

Walter Booth Jr. has joined Stites & Harbison as an attorney in the business litigation, construction and bankruptcy practices. He earned a J.D. from Mercer University in 2013. Before law school Booth was a loan officer and investment adviser for Wells Fargo. He was captain of the football team as an undergraduate at Furman University and played in Europe before joining the business world.

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has added three first-year associates to its Atlanta office: Sabrina Atkins, Ian Calhoun and Charles “Chase” Ruffin.

Atkins is in the commercial and real estate litigation practice, focusing on residential mortgage litigation, and earned a J.D. from Mercer University in 2013. Calhoun is in the securities and corporate governance practice. He received his J.D. from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2013. Ruffin is in the business litigation practice, working in the firm’s Macon and Atlanta offices. He is a 2013 graduate of Georgia State University School of Law.

Thompson Hine has elected J. Christopher Fox II as a partner, effective Jan. 1. Fox is a business litigator as well as a registered mediator and arbitrator.

Baker Donelson shareholder Scott Sherman has been re-nominated to another two-year term on the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League’s Southeastern region.

Greenberg Traurig‘s Atlanta office held its first blood drive this month, collecting 38 pints of blood for the Red Cross from 45 registered donors. “We reached 119 percent of our initial goal thanks to the support of Atlanta residents as well as our own attorneys and staff,” said Greenberg shareholder Richard Valladares in a statement. Valladares, a member of the American Red Cross Blood Services Southern region minority recruitment advisory board, said he plans to make the blood drive an annual event.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia gave its 2013 Pro Bono Award to Troutman Sanders, which was co-counsel with the ACLU for Mark Lyttle, a U.S. citizen whom U.S. authorities illegally deported to Mexico in 2008.

Lyttle, who has bipolar disorder and cognitive disabilities, was serving a 100-day jail sentence in his home state of North Carolina for inappropriately touching the backside of a female worker in a state psychiatric hospital when the North Carolina Department of Correction reported him to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement as a suspected undocumented Mexican immigrant—even though he had never been to Mexico, was not of Mexican descent and spoke no Spanish, according to the federal suit filed by Troutman, the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and the ACLU Foundation of Georgia in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia.

While in ICE custody at the Stewart Detention Facility in Lumpkin, Lyttle signed a statement that he was from Mexico. An Atlanta immigration judge, William Cassidy, approved his deportation, and ICE started removal proceedings. Lyttle did not have a lawyer.

In December 2008, ICE officials flew Lyttle to Hidalgo, Texas, and ordered him to walk across the border to Reynosa, Mexico. He was wearing a green prison jumpsuit and had only $3 in his pocket. Lyttle spent the next 125 days wandering through Central America, homeless and subject to abuse and imprisonment because he had no identity documents. He finally made it to the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, which helped him obtain a passport and return to the United States in April 2009.

“Few of us could ever imagine what it would feel like to be banished from your home country and left to fend for yourself, but that’s exactly what happened to Mark Lyttle,” said Troutman partner Michael Johnson in a statement.

Johnson led a team of Troutman lawyers, which included Brian Watt, Alex Reyes and Michael Wall, who with the ACLU filed a civil suit for damages against the United States, ICE and government officials in 2010. Lyttle’s team settled the case with the federal government in 2012 for $175,000.