Without Jeff Bramlett, the Bondurant, Mixson & Elmore partner who died of cancer two years ago, Children’s Rights might not have opened its new Atlanta office—the first beyond its New York headquarters.
Bramlett teamed up with the group, a national legal watchdog for children mistreated in foster care, in 2002 to win the landmark “Kenny A.” class action that started reforms to Georgia’s treatment of foster children.
Bondurant Mixson made a $100,000 contribution in Bramlett’s honor to bring Children’s Rights to Atlanta, along with major support from Hall Booth Smith, which is housing the legal nonprofit.
Children’s Rights will recognize Bramlett’s legacy with an award in his name, the Jeffrey O. Bramlett Children’s Champion Award, at its kickoff recognition luncheon on Friday—a fundraiser for the Atlanta office it opened in June to serve the South.
The first Bramlett Award will go to Trenny Stovall at the Children’s Rights event at the Cherokee Town Club. Stovall has headed the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center since it was created in 2003 as Georgia’s first agency to provide independent counsel to foster children who are under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court—a development made possible by Kenny A. v. Perdue. The agency has represented more than 4,500 children since then.
Kenny A. v. Perdue challenged Georgia’s dysfunctional foster care system, winning protections for foster children such as closing dangerous emergency shelters in Fulton and DeKalb counties where they were being held. The landmark decision by federal Judge Marvin Shoob established that children being abused or neglected in DFACS custody have the right to independent counsel.
Emmet Bondurant said that, when he and his partners at Bondurant Mixson learned Children’s Rights wanted to open an Atlanta office, they decided that making a sizable contribution to get it started was “the perfect way to honor Jeff’s legacy.”
“Like Jeff, Children’s Rights is committed to fight for the rights of those who are vulnerable,” he said. Bondurant called his longtime partner “an exceptional lawyer who believed that effective representation of all parties was essential to our system of justice.” He added that Bramlett, who died at age 62, volunteered throughout his career to take cases pro bono for people who could not afford a lawyer.
Christina Wilson Remlin, who is heading the new Children’s Rights office, is still working on the Kenny A. case, since Fulton and DeKalb counties remain under a federal consent decree, issued in 2005, over their child welfare agencies’ treatment of foster children. The Atlanta native has been one of the legal nonprofit’s lead trial counsel for about seven years.
“They’ve made some significant improvements, but there is a long way to go,” Remlin told the Daily Report in June. The emergency shelters have been shut down, and children are being moved fewer times, she said, but there has been a spike in caseloads for Child Protective Services investigators and problems in investigating abuse and neglect allegations in a timely fashion.
“Jeff Bramlett fought shoulder to shoulder with us every step of the way throughout the Kenny A. case, and I can think of no better way to honor his legacy than by protecting even more kids,” Remlin said. “Our expansion in the Southeast enables us to do just that.”
Bondurant Mixson is the lead sponsor for the fundraising luncheon, with major support from HechtWalker, whose name partner Greg Hecht spearheaded the effort to start the local Children’s Rights branch, as well as Eventologie, Iron’s Children and Ginair and George McKerrow.