Judge R. Chris Phelps receives State Bar of Georgia Distinguished Service Award
Northern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge R. Chris Phelps of Elberton was honored with the 2016 Distinguished Service Award, presented by the State Bar of Georgia during its annual meeting on June 18.
Phelps was honored for his extensive service to the legal profession, the justice system and the public during his four-decade career as an attorney and judge.
He recently completed 32 years of continuous service on the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Georgia, representing the attorneys of the Northern Circuit, which includes Elbert, Franklin, Hart, Madison and Oglethorpe counties.
He also served on the Finance Committee of the 48,000-member State Bar for 20 years and as its chairman for 12 years.
He previously served as chair of the Review Panel of the State Bar Disciplinary Board, the Continuity of Law Practice Committee, the Programs Committee and the Bar Governance Committee of the State Bar.
A lifelong resident of Elberton, Phelps was engaged in the general practice of law for 38 years prior to being appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as Superior Court judge.
Additionally, he served as city attorney of Elberton for 28 years, as judge of the Elberton Municipal Court for 10 years and judge of the Elbert County Magistrate Court for three years.
He was sworn in as Superior Court judge on March 4, 2015, and was elected to a full four-year term on May 24, 2016.
Phelps, who achieved the designation of Eagle Scout himself in 1966, has served as Scoutmaster of the Elberton Troop 127 of Boy Scouts of America since 1978, producing 48 Eagle Scouts during that time.
He is also a past president of the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce, the Elberton Rotary Club and Elbert County Little League.
Phelps and his wife, Pamelia Jo Gaines Phelps, have two children and four grandchildren and are active members of Elberton First United Methodist Church. He is a 1973 graduate of the University of West Georgia and earned his law degree in 1976 from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Among numerous awards for professional and community service, Phelps is a recipient of the Award of Merit from the Northeast Georgia Council of Boy Scouts of America (1990), the Silver Beaver Award from the National Council of Boy Scouts of America (1993), the Georgia Super Lawyers designation (2005) and the Elbert County Chamber of Commerce Leadership Award (2011).
“The legal community in our state owes a debt of gratitude to Judge Phelps for his many years of exemplary service,” said State Bar President Robert J. “Bob” Kauffman in making the presentation, “not only for his many years of exemplary service in the practice of law and as a jurist but also as a public servant in his hometown of Elberton and the Northern Judicial Circuit, and as an outstanding leader of the State Bar of Georgia.”
The Distinguished Service Award is the highest accolade bestowed on an individual member of the State Bar of Georgia.
Recipients in recent years include several former chief justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia and the current president-elect of the American Bar Association.