UGA law school honors four individuals for their service

Apr. 26—ATHENS — The University of Georgia School of Law honored four individuals for their service during the school's recent Awards Dinner at the State Botanical Gardens of Georgia, including former Albany State University staff member Nyota Tucker, who served as university council and as the university's chief of staff before retiring in 2016..

Thomas A. "Tom" Eaton, Kenneth "Ken" Henson Jr. and Sharon "Nyota" Tucker received the law school alumni/alumnae association's highest honor — the Distinguished Service Scroll Award — for their outstanding dedication and service to the legal profession and the law school. Additionally, Emily Ward was presented with the Young Alumni/Alumnae of Excellence Award.

Eaton, the J. Alton Hosch Professor of Law Emeritus, joined the School of Law faculty in 1979 and taught in the areas of torts, constitutional litigation, health care regulation and workers' compensation. In 1993, he was named a Hosch Professor and one decade later he became the law school's only professor to receive a UGA Creative Research Medal (for his systematic and in-depth study of tort litigation with the late Susette Talarico).

Eaton is the author of "Constitutional Torts, Constitutional Remedies: A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution" and "Cases and Materials on Workers' Compensation." He has testified before state and federal legislative committees on a variety of subjects. While on the faculty, he helped establish the school's mock trial program, the Equal Justice Foundation and what is now the Clarke-Carley Inn of Court. After retiring from the law school in 2015, he served on the law school's Board of Visitors and was a part-time professor through 2018.

Henson is a 1978 graduate of the law school. A native of Columbus, he is the son of the late Kenneth M. and Sue B. Henson, both UGA graduates. After graduating from the School of Law, Henson worked as an assistant solicitor in Muscogee County before joining his father, a fellow School of Law graduate, in his law firm. After his father's retirement, Henson practiced law by himself for more than 30 years. He is currently a real estate developer active in the revitalization of downtown Columbus, focusing on renovating historic properties and developing housing that will increase urban vitality.

Henson most recently renovated a 1905 Coca-Cola bottling plant and turned an abandoned mill located along the Chattahoochee River into the City Mills Hotel. Henson also is involved in various community organizations, including the Columbus Area Habitat for Humanity (which he helped found), the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust and Dragonfly Trails. He has served on the UGA School of Law's Board of Visitors for more than one decade.

A 1974 alumna, Tucker is the first African American female graduate of the School of Law. After graduating, she served as a staff attorney in the Albany office of Georgia Legal Services, a legal intern with the Earl Warren Fellowship Program in the San Francisco office of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and an associate with the law firm Mary Young & Associates.

In 1980, Tucker joined the faculty of Albany State University, where she became the pre-law advisor for students interested in attending law school — a position she held for more than 25 years. She also served on the ASU university council and as the university's chief of staff before retiring in 2016.

Tucker is active in community organizations, having served on the boards of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation, Liberty House, the Boys & Girls Club of Albany and the Dougherty County Hospital Authority Board. Additionally, she served as a member of the 2008 Judicial Nominating Committee in Georgia for federal appointments. She has been recognized numerous times for her leadership and work as an educator, and the School of Law named its admissions suite in her honor in 2019.

Ward, a 2013 graduate of the law school, is a partner with Smith, Gambrell & Russell, where her practice concentrates on white-collar defense and civil litigation. She has represented multiple potential defendants, each resulting in no indictments being filed or substantially reduced penalties being negotiated. She often defends medical professionals before state medical, dental, nursing and health insurance boards.

Ward said she particularly enjoys representing students accused of academic, behavioral and other infractions and using those challenging situations to mentor students as they resolve their situations. She is active in multiple bar associations, including the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Georgia and the Atlanta Bar Association. Ward currently serves as the treasurer and is a member of the executive committee of the Atlanta Bar Association, and is the chair of the Atlanta Bar Criminal Law Section Board. She was selected as a member of the State Bar of Georgia Leadership Academy Class of 2019 and served as the Young Lawyers Division Litigation Committee co-chair from 2019 to 2020.