Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein (File photo)

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein was among the honorees at a luncheon hosted Monday by an anti-discrimination group.

The Anti-Defamation League Southeast Region gave Justice Carol W. Hunstein its lifetime achievement award. Also honored at the event were two in-house lawyers, Elizabeth Finn Johnson of The Coca-Cola Company and Lauren Estrin of Turner Broadcasting System.

The ADL says its lifetime achievement award is given to “individuals in the legal community who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of justice and the well-being of the community.” As recounted in a press release issued by the state Supreme Court, Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton partner Miles Alexander cited Hunstein’s self-made success in introducing her at the event.

Alexander, a former recipient of the award, used a baseball analogy to make his point. Justice Hunstein not only didn’t start at first base, he said, “but she had to crawl over the dugout to get to the playing field.” By age 23, Hunstein had endured a bout with cancer that led to a below-the-knee amputation of her left leg and a divorce that left her a single mother without a college education. Hunstein completed college and law school in her native Florida and then moved to Atlanta. She became the only woman on the DeKalb County Superior Court bench when she won election over four male candidates in 1984. Governor Zell Miller appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1992, and she became the court’s second female chief justice in 2009.

In accepting the award, the court’s press release said, Hunstein said she was once asked what she would change about her life if she could alter anything. “After reflection, I decided I would not change one thing,” she said. “Those challenges made me who I am. I’m a tough old girl.”

The Anti-Defamation League calls its mission “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.”

Johnson, the Coke lawyer, was given an award named after Elbert Tuttle, the late chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. An ADL press release cited Johnson’s work on Coke’s initiative to ensure that human rights are respected in its affiliated workplaces throughout the world.

Estrin was given an award reserved for lawyers 36 and under. The ADL noted that Estrin, a member of the ADL Southeast Region board, has worked on Turner’s diversity efforts and regularly provides pro bono services.