Andrew J. Savage III Receives Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy From The American College of Trial Lawyers


Andrew J. Savage III Receives Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy
From The American College of Trial Lawyers

Savage is only the fifteenth person to receive award

NEWPORT BEACH, CA, October 15, 2018 -- The American College of Trial Lawyers (the College) has presented its Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy to criminal defense attorney Andrew J. Savage III. The award honors trial lawyers who have persevered in the pursuit of an important cause despite substantial personal danger, fear, unpopularity, opposition or other extreme difficulties. In its 54 years of existence, the award has been extended previously only 14 times.

According to the award committee’s nomination, Mr. Savage’s cause is representing extraordinarily unpopular clients despite substantial opposition or other extreme difficulties. The nomination said, “In the finest traditions of the role of a trial lawyer in a free society, Andy has unhesitatingly defended unpopular and seemingly indefensible case.”  They include Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer who was videotaped shooting a defenseless African American man eight times in the back; representation of an accused terrorist, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri; three survivors of the Emmanuel Church shooting; and Sametta Hayward, who left two children to die in a car  of heat exposure.

College President Jeffrey S. Leon, LSM said, “The College is pleased to confer this most prestigious award on Mr. Savage who deserves to be recognized for the work he has done throughout his career to preserve the rule of law and advance the administration of justice.  He is only the fifteenth trial lawyer to be recognized by the College in this way and we are particularly pleased to recognize one of our own Fellows.”

Past President of the College Mikel L. Stout of the Foulston Siefkin law firm in Wichita, KS, presented the award to Mr. Savage.  Mr. Stout said, “Andy Savage is readily identified by his peers in South Carolina and elsewhere as an exceptionally talented, hardworking attorney who will accept the representation of any client, no matter how horrific the allegations or the evidence. Many of these cases are pro bono, or the effort is far beyond any compensation received. Emotions are high around these cases. Sometimes, Andy and Cheryl, his wife who works with him on these cases, stay in a hotel with security during the trial.  They’re escorted to and from the courthouse from their hotel until the case is concluded.  They have had occasions when they have remained in the jail cell with their client while they were waiting for security to clear the courtroom and to clear the area around the courthouse for safe passage….  Nothing deters him or distracts him.  In short, our honoree clearly and completely meets the criteria for one of our highest individual honors.”

In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Savage said, “I’m truly honored to be the most recent recipient of the Griffin Bell Award, the last in a formidable line of distinguished advocates who have been recognized for their advancement of the principles that this esteemed organization holds dear. They were fearless.  They were courageous.  They were attorneys.  They were educators.  They were leaders of social change.  They were unwavering advocates who promoted fair and equitable justice in our courts, in our educational institutions, and in our political processes, as well as our society as a whole.

“We should be promoting our College principles, whether it’s in the bright glare of the media spotlight, or simply while maintaining those ideals in our everyday practice.  Just to wake up every morning having knowingly chosen our profession, a profession that brings exhilarating highs, but also batters us with depressing disappointments.  We must have courage, for this is what we chose to do…. I’ve found that in my practice, the most compelling ingredient to maintain a focus in advancing the principles of our College, is the courage of my clients,” he said.

Mr. Savage was born in New York and received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor Degree from the University of South Carolina. Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Savage was Chief Trial Counsel for the Criminal Division of the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Savage handles criminal cases in both state and federal courts and also handles select civil cases. He was the first criminal defense attorney in South Carolina to be Board Certified. Mr. Savage is a frequent lecturer at continuing legal education programs for both lawyers and judges and speaks at schools, civic organizations and professional groups. He is a former legal analyst for the Charleston CBS affiliate, and hosted the three-time Emmy Award winning “The Savage Report.” Guidelines for the Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy state that recipients are trial lawyers who have persevered in pursuit of an important cause despite substantial personal danger, fear, unpopularity, opposition or other extreme difficulties.

The award was created in 1964 and re-named in 2008 for Griffin Bell.  It may be made to any trial lawyer, whether or not a Fellow of the College, who has demonstrated outstanding courage in unpopular or difficult cases.  The award was last presented to Judy Clarke of Clarke Johnston Thorp & Rice, PC law firm in San Diego, CA on March 4, 2017 at the College’s Spring Meeting in Boca Raton, FL.  Griffin Bell was an attorney and judge of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He served as the United States Attorney General during President Jimmy Carter’s administration.  Bell served as ACTL president in 1985-1986.

About The American College of Trial Lawyers
The American College of Trial Lawyers is composed of preeminent members of the Trial Bar from the United States and Canada and is recognized as the leading trial lawyers organization in both countries.  The College is dedicated to maintaining and seeking to improve the standards of trial practice, professionalism, ethics, and the administration of justice. The College strongly supports the independence of the Judiciary and respect for the courts in the United States and Canada; that independence is fundamental to our democratic societies. For more information about the College, visit its website at

Photo Available:
A photo of then President Samuel H. Franklin presenting Andy Savage the Griffin Bell Award for Courageous Advocacy during the General Session on Saturday, September 29, 2018 at the College’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana is available. Please contact Eliza Gano.

Eliza Gano
American College of Trial Lawyers
Communications Manager