Jacqueline Bunn: Legally Made – Georgia Magazine

Jacqueline Bunn ABJ ’84, JD ’87’s legal career has spanned more than three decades and has included a variety of senior positions. Most notably, Bunn is the Vice Chairman of Georgia’s State Board of Paroles and Pardons. (Photo/Dot Paul)

Jacqueline Bunn was 10 years old when her cousin opened his private law practice.

Bunn, a long-time Perry Mason fan, was graced with stories about the cases he worked on. Upon arriving at UGA, Bunn held onto pursuing a law degree, but immediately focused her attention on the broadcast journalism program, her sorority, community service, and serving as third director of the Black Theatrical Ensemble.

When she went to law school, she only applied to one program.

“I’ve always been very grateful for the opportunities UGA has given me,” says Bunn ABJ ’84, JD ’87. “At this point in my career, I can look back and truly say that university prepared me to go where I wanted to go.”

Now, more than three decades into his distinguished career, Bunn serves as vice chairman of Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles, a position that necessitated a governor’s appointment. “I was blessed with a family that was very supportive and never told me because I was a woman that I couldn’t do it,” says Bunn.

Her career began in private practice in New Jersey when she was 10, but Bunn has worked for the state of Georgia since 1997. Now she and her colleagues are making decisions that affect the future of prisoners’ lives, such as whether they will be paroled, how long they will be in prison before parole and pardons will be granted.

In 2022, the committee reviewed nearly 14,000 inmate cases, all of which involved a delicate balancing act between public safety and second chances.

“It’s a bit of a challenge. There are family members whose loved ones are affected by a crime and they never want the person to be released, but eventually most of those who are paroleable will be,” Bunn said.

Throughout her career, Bunn has gained an understanding of “the importance of having victim participation in the criminal justice process.” When former Gov. Nathan Deal called them into his office to discuss their current appointment, they talked about criminal justice reform.

“With every job, there was an opportunity to make significant changes that will improve the quality of life for the citizens of this state,” said Bunn, who also served as associate general counsel for the Georgia Department of Public Safety. where she helped draft legislation to promote road safety.

During her time at the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, Bunn was introduced to the Board of Pardons and Paroles, where she worked on the Board’s cases, which primarily involved inmate rights. In fact, in 2000, she helped hear a clemency case before the US Supreme Court.

When Bunn returned to Georgia, she was drawn to public service — and had a desire to make a difference. “I decided that instead of chasing money in private practice, I wanted to give something back to my state,” she says. “I moved back home and felt compelled to work for the citizens of the state.”

In addition to her role as vice chair, Bunn also serves on the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and serves as chair of the state Victim Compensation Fund. Bunn has also been an active member of the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys since 2003, including serving as president in 2013 and hosting its television show for ten years. She has received numerous awards for her commitment and desire to nurture young lawyers.

“I have always had a heart for public service and I believe we are here to give back. It’s not just about me; It’s about helping others,” she says.