Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Standing among his fellow adjudicators during the Oct. 11 Red Mass, Judge Trent Brown III, center, of the Georgia Court of Appeals, gazes upon the large crucifix that hangs behind the altar at Sacred Heart of Jesus Basilica, Atlanta.


Legal community prays for peace, justice at annual Red Mass

Published October 18, 2018

ATLANTA—The St. Thomas More Society’s annual Red Mass, celebrated Oct. 11, signifies the beginning of a judicial calendar year.

Judges, attorneys and others who administer justice came together for the Red Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Atlanta.

Members of the clergy wore red vestments, traditionally signifying the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon God’s people, while the judges wore their robes and red stoles.

Judges led the procession into the church, followed by deacons and priests and principal celebrant, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory.

In his homily, Archbishop Gregory compared the garb worn by judges and the clergy.

“When many of you assumed the office of judge, you probably were ‘enrobed’ in a ceremony that reminded you and all others of the new responsibilities that you were undertaking for the people in the state of Georgia,” said the archbishop. “Most clergy have similar ceremonial beginnings of their service.”

Archbishop Gregory said that while courts are not religious temples, they are very sacred places where justice and mercy are constantly the highest virtues to be pursued.

“Just and merciful people are a reflection of divinity no matter how people may conceive of God,” he said. “Even people who profess no particular religious heritage or tradition pursue justice and mercy as the desired end of human legal endeavors. Judges don robes not as religious figures, but as symbolic persons within human society.”

Those who wear distinctive garb must always seek to give witness and credibility to their tasks, said Archbishop Gregory.

“Catholic clergy along with a number of our ecumenical and interfaith colleagues have recently publicly been made aware of the too frequent discrepancies between our office and our behavior,” he added. “Therefore, let us all now pray this morning for a spirit of integrity and honor so that the garb that we wear will indicate both our interior reliability and our desire to serve and uphold the common good.”

Awards for Judge Story, John A. Horn

The Red Mass, celebrated each year for those working in law, dates to the early 1300s in England. The name of the Mass comes from the scarlet vestments worn by the clergy.

The Mass was followed by an awards luncheon at the Capital City Club, Atlanta, during which the St. Thomas More Society honored two legal professionals for devoting much of their careers to fighting human and sex trafficking in Atlanta and the United States. The 2018 St. Thomas More Society Award recipients were: Judge Richard W. Story of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and John A. Horn, partner, King & Spalding, LLP, and former United States attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Judge Story is a trafficking expert for the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of State and trains members of the legal profession in dealing with the criminal and social impacts of human trafficking. His work in this arena has taken him to conferences at the Vatican and around the world.

As members of the judicial community gather before the Red Mass, John Horn, center, a partner at King & Spalding LLP, and former United States Attorney, speaks with Judge David Nahmias of the Georgia Supreme Court and Judge Britt Grant of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Horn was one of two people honored by the Red Mass and awards luncheon sponsor, the St. Thomas More Society, Inc. Photo By Michael Alexander

As U.S. Attorney, Horn worked to combine the efforts of law enforcement, the State Department and the Department of Labor in North Georgia to prosecute those who victimized children and adults and to identify how and where human trafficking occurs. He collaborated with state and local law enforcement agencies to multiply their efforts to address trafficking. He also directed law enforcement to partner with community organizations that support victims and provide information to assist investigations. He reached out to businesses with an ability to intercede in victimization, such as hotel operators or commercial transportation companies.

“The trafficking of adults and children throughout the world is a tremendous problem,” said Brent W. Herrin, managing partner of Small Herrin, LLP, and president of the St. Thomas More Society. “Unfortunately, criminals exploit Atlanta’s international airport and freeway system to move their victims through Atlanta, making our city a human trafficking hub.”

This year’s honorees, he said, have fought to prosecute those who kidnap and exploit others for many years.

“John Horn helped pioneer a multidisciplinary human trafficking task force and led a team of prosecutors who convicted more than 30 defendants of human trafficking and sex trafficking,” said Herrin. “Judge Story has worked on an international scale to share information and experiences on crimes, perpetrators and victims of human trafficking. Judge Story also helps train judges, prosecutors and victims’ rights advocates on the many legal and social implications of human trafficking.”

The society is proud to recognize their work and to “shine a light on the ongoing issue of human trafficking,” he said.

Today in the U.S., the Red Mass is celebrated annually in a number of cities. Since 1993, Atlanta’s St. Thomas More Society has embraced this tradition by sponsoring the Red Mass at the basilica.

The St. Thomas More Society of Atlanta was formed in 1993 by a group of Catholic lawyers in Atlanta, seeking to inspire those intellectual, spiritual and moral qualities that were exemplified in the life of its patron saint. Membership includes attorneys from throughout the metro area. In addition to the Red Mass, the organization gathers to discuss issues of law, ethics, morality and other subjects.

More about the honorees

Horn earned his undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary and a law degree at the University of Virginia. After completing his service as U.S. Attorney in March, he returned to King & Spalding as a partner. He specializes in government and internal investigations, white-collar criminal defense and crisis management.

After presiding over a major human trafficking case in 2014, Judge Story was invited by the Vatican to join judges and prosecutors from 56 countries to share their experiences in dealing with the crimes, the perpetrators and the victims of human trafficking. He will be moderating a panel of judges and prosecutors for the State Bar of Georgia on the related issue of human labor trafficking.

Judge Story notes that the United States is “ahead of the curve” in many ways in dealing with the crimes and the victims in a humane manner.

Born in Harlem, Georgia, Judge Story attended LaGrange College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. He earned his law degree in 1978, after which he practiced as a trial attorney and became a partner in the Gainesville law firm of Hulsey, Oliver & Mahar. He was appointed a judge on the Juvenile Court of Hall County in 1985 and served as a Superior Court judge for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit and later as Chief Judge from 1993 to 1998. He was appointed to the federal bench as a District Court Judge for the Northern District of Georgia in 1998 and recently took status as a senior judge.

He is the father of three children. He attends a Methodist Church in Gainesville and holds a genuine respect for Pope Francis. He is an amateur actor and revels in playing the part of Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”