J. Scott Key completed his undergraduate degree at Mercer University, where he was a double major in English and Theology with a minor in political science. Scott was graduated summa cum laude and was the recipient of Mercer’s Newton Award, the honor given each year to the school’s top graduate in the College of Liberal Arts. Scott also graduated with highest honors from the English Department, a distinction earned over a student’s time in the department, from the results of the department’s exit examination, and from the completion of a thesis. Scott was a section editor for the school’s newspaper and the general editor for the school’s literary magazine.
Scott went on to attend Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree. He was graduated from Emory magna cum laude and as an honors graduate, a distinction earned by completing the honors program and a thesis.
From there, Scott received a full scholarship to attend Georgia State University College of Law, where he was invited to participate in the Bleckley Inn of Court. He also was on the school’s Mock Trial team, which finished second nationally at an invitational tournament in Chicago. Scott was also recognized for the best cross examination at that tournament. While attending law school, Scott clerked for Willis, McKenzie & Long, in LaGrange, Georgia, where he worked on medical malpractice, municipal and county governmental law as well as a significant copyright case. Scott also worked for Kam & Ebersbach in Newnan, Georgia, where he worked on personal injury cases and in the area of criminal defense.
Sexton & Morris: Immediately upon graduation, Scott began working for this law firm, where he quickly gravitated toward major felony cases and criminal appeals. He served as counsel in the case of State of Georgia v. James Lamar Watson, a month long murder trial in Fulton County, which was featured on Court TV and Dateline NBC. He also was appellate counsel in Graham v. State, a significant decision involving venue in criminal cases. He was also trial and appellate counsel in Handschuh v. State, a case where Georgia’s appellate courts struck down a portion of the implied consent statute in DUI cases.
Sexton & Key: After making partner, Scott achieved success in multiple felony and misdemeanor trials, and continued his success in the appellate arena. He was counsel in State v. Carol Carr, a high profile murder case in which Ms. Carr was accused of killing her adult sons, who were suffering in the latter stages of Huntington’s disease. Scott, along with partner Lee Sexton, successfully negotiated a plea to the reduced charge of assisting the commission of a suicide. Ms. Carr received first offender treatment and was shortly paroled.
J. Scott Key, P.C.: Scott left his partnership to form a new practice in McDonough. Scott continued to find success in the courtroom, in school disciplinary hearings and tribunals as well as the appellate courts. He was counsel in Ling v. State, the case that established the right to an interpreter in Georgia for non English speaking defendants.
Mercer University, College of Liberal Arts: Scott has taught undergraduates through the University’s College of Liberal Arts in its Senior Capstone Program.
Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law: Scott co-teaches Appellate Practice and Procedure with Chief Judge Stephen Dillard of the Georgia Court of Appeals. This is a class where upper level law students get a glimpse into the appellate world, discussing everything from motion for new trials in superior courts to petitions for certiorari in the Supreme Court of Georgia. This class features writing components and involves numerous class speakers, including current Justices on the Supreme Court of Georgia. Scott has also taught in the school’s habeas corpus program, a course for upper level law students that features a classroom writing component as well as a clinical component. Scott has supervised students authorized to practice under the third year practice act. And in addition to teaching, Scott has also assisted in the law school’s mock trial and moot court program.
Miller & Key, P.A.: After a brief stint in Decatur, where Scott began acting in an of counsel to Peters, Rubin & Sheffield, Scott has returned to McDonough, where he represents the accused before trial courts around the state, the convicted in the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Georgia, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals as well as in various habeas courts around the State. Scott also successfully represents clients before the State Board of Pardons and Paroles, the Sexual Offender Registration Review Board, school tribunals, school boards, and the State Board of Education. Most recently, Scott was involved in the case of Elliott v. State, a pivotal case in DUI defense law, where the Georgia Supreme Court held that when a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, it is unconstitutional to use the fact that they refused the test against the accused at trial. Scott has also represented petitioners on habeas corpus to help them avoid deportation and to save professional licenses.
- Georgia Superior Courts
- Georgia Court of Appeals
- Supreme Court of Georgia
- Northern District of Georgia
- Middle District of Georgia
- Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
- United States Supreme Court
State Bar of Georgia, Appellate Practice Section: Scott has held every officer position there is in the Appellate Practice Section. He currently serves as chair of the section.
Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers: Scott is the most recent past-President of GACDL, a 1600-member criminal defense lawyer association. Scott served as GACDL President from January of 2019 until January of 2020. In addition to serving as president, Scott has served on numerous committees in GACDL in the past, including being the Parliamentarian and Legislative co-chair of GACDL. He has served as a regional vice president of the organization. And for two years he was the chair of the organization’s amicus committee, where he has coordinated the writing of amicus briefs on the organization’s behalf to the Georgia Court of Appeals, Supreme Court of Georgia, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. In particular, he was the author of the amicus brief in Cisco v. State, a case that struck down as unconstitutional the civil forfeiture provisions of the state’s racketeering statute. He was also the author of the amicus brief in Ellington v. State, a case where a death sentence was overturned. And most notably, Scott was the author of the amicus brief in Elliott v. State, a pivotal case in DUI defense law, where the Georgia Supreme Court held that when a person refuses to submit to a chemical test, it is unconstitutional to use the fact that they refused the test against the accused at trial. Scott is a frequent lecturer on criminal defense subjects through GACDL’s seminars and CLEs.
Henry County Bar Association: Scott has served as president and secretary of the Henry County Bar. He is also a frequent speaker at the local bar’s programs.
Scott is active in his local church, the First Baptist Church of Griffin, Georgia, where he has served as the Chair of the Board of Deacons.
Scott is a native Georgian and a graduate of Henry County High School.
Scott enjoys traveling to new places, spending time with his children, and great coffee!