J. Roger Thompson Award Winner Announced

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chris Arnt, Assistant District Attorney for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit, was presented with the "J. Roger Thompson Award" during the Basic Litigation Course hosted by the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia.

The Prosecuting Attorneys' Council of Georgia (PAC) presented its Basic Litigation Course for new prosecutors from June 7-13, 2008 in Forsyth , Georgia at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC). Each year during the course, the J. Roger Thompson award is presented to an outstanding faculty member in memory of the late J. Roger Thompson, who was the Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit.

This year's J. Roger Thompson Award was presented on Thursday, June 12 by Pete Skandalakis, Basic Litigation Chairman and District Attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit.

"This year's recipient of the J. Roger Thompson Award possesses the character traits of the type of prosecutor we want to have in this state," said Skandalakis. "He is a prosecutor dedicated to fairness and has a strong adherence to professionalism, ethics, and moral obligations. He is the type of prosecutor we should all try to emulate."

Each J. Roger Thompson Award recipient is selected by previous winners who have remained involved in Basic Litigation Course. This year's nominating panel included Wayne Jernigan, Assistant District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit and 2007 recipient; Pete Skandalakis, District Attorney for the Coweta Judicial Circuit and 2006 recipient; Mike Carlson, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney for the Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit and 2005 recipient; David Fowler, Deputy Executive Director for the Prosecuting Attorneys' Council and 2004 recipient; Ben Richardson, Solicitor-General for Muscogee County and 2003 recipient; and Marty First, Assistant District Attorney for the Gwinnett Judicial Circuit and 2001 recipient.

"I feel deeply honored and extremely humbled to be considered in the same league with such tremendous prosecutors such as J .Roger Thompson and the previous recipients like Wayne Jernigan, Pete Skandalakis, Mike Carlson, David Fowler, Ben Richardson and Marty First and I hope I can continue to live up to the high standards set by them and the many other dedicated prosecutors," said Arnt.

Arnt has been an invited faculty member at Basic Litigation for the last 12 years, having served as a team leader for nine of those years. He has also been a lecturer, most recently teaching Introduction of Evidence at this year's course. In addition, he is a member of the Course Operations and Planning Committee. He has been a guest speaker and faculty member at the Train the Trainer's course, Winter Conference and Key Personnel, all sponsored by the Prosecuting Attorney's Council of Georgia.

"I have worked with students at every level of experience from those who have been working in their office for only a few weeks to those who have tried several cases already," said Arnt. "Seeing the hard work and dedication the students put forth helps to refresh and reenergize the faculty. I always return from Basic with a renewed sense of pride in our profession after meeting these fine young lawyers that have chosen to make protecting their fellow citizens, as prosecutors, their life's work."

During the award presentation, Chairman Skandalakis explained the importance of this award's namesake.

"The week of intense trial advocacy training at the Basic Litigation Course would not have been possible without the contributions of many distinguished prosecutors. The late J. Roger Thompson, Chief Assistant District Attorney of the Appalachian Judicial Circuit, supported and influenced the development of today's Basic Litigation Course. His skill as a trial advocate and his ability as a teacher set the standards to which we, your faculty, aspire today. Starting in 1994, after Roger's sudden death, we decided to recognize one outstanding faculty member each year at the conclusion of the Course. By making this presentation and giving special recognition to such a faculty member, we hope to keep Roger's memory alive for a new generation of Georgia prosecutors."

"People mattered to Roger. So did the pursuit of justice," said Skandalakis. "Fairness and honesty were not mere words to him. Roger fought hard in court, but he fought fairly. His word was his bond and he honored his commitments. He never backed down when he knew he was right. When the inevitable losses and frustrations came, he bore them with quiet dignity. Roger never figured the world owed him a living. His work ethic and life were the gifts he gave back to us, his fellow prosecutors. There are many other prosecutors sitting in this room today that have the same fundamental decency and skills that Roger did. They are the unthanked public servants who take quiet pride in their work and in their commitment to bettering our justice system."

Skandalakis concluded by saying, "My hope is that each one of us possesses a full measure of Roger's gifts. May the inspiration of his life serve as a loving benediction, and inspire us to be true to ourselves and to our calling as public prosecutors. This year's recipient of the J. Roger Thompson award exemplifies the dedication and devotion to the furtherance of the standards established by the prosecution community."

Arnt has been an Assistant District Attorney in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit for the past 16 years. He has handled every type of case coming into the office, from juvenile court to the death penalty. Currently, he handles mostly major felony cases.

"Trying a case on behalf of the State is a very demanding experience," said Arnt. "It places a great deal of pressure on even experienced prosecutors and it can be a very daunting for new prosecutors. The Basic Litigation Course gives these new lawyers an opportunity to try out their skills in an environment where, no matter what happens, a criminal is not going to be set free. It also allows them to hone their skills by observing faculty demonstrations, listening to critiques of their performances, and observing and interacting with their fellow students."

Arnt graduated from McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Georgia in 1985. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Tulane University in 1989, and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University in 1992. He is the son of Ronald and Patricia Arnt, who were present for the award presentation.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to work with new prosecutors and to help make them better advocates for victims all across Georgia," said Arnt.