March 8, 2013

Legal Seminar Extolls the Personal Touch in the Law

Participants and spectators enjoyed a day and a half of homage to the personalities of the local law.

The Georgia Legal History Foundation’s seminar Thursday and Friday, March 7 & 8 at the UGA law school, “Murder, Politics and Scandal: Famous Cases and Characters of the Athens Bar and Beyond” lived up to its billing. Former Congressman Don Johnson covered the slaying of Col. Lemuel Penn, local attorney John Timmons sketched the history of legal aid in Athens; Prof. (emeritus) Donald E. Wilkes, Jr. touched on the colorful characters in the Western Circuit, which includes Athens; Congressman John Barrow recalled his father, the iconic Judge Jim Barrow; Denny Galis conjured famous characters in the local law; Ed Tolley talked about the murder of restaurateur T.K. Harty; Rev. Dicky Hoard talked about the murder of his father, District Attorney Floyd Hoard; Ed Allen elucidated the case former UGA football coach Wally Butts won against Curtis Publishing Co., and among other speakers, Milton Leathers, in spite of his grief over the sudden death of his good friend Jim McGown, brought the house down with his insights into the Cobb family and others (all his relatives) and his information about the T.R.R. Cobb House on Hill St.

At the end, though, the theme of the two-day conference seemed to coalesce around the personal touch and the personalities of the local bar, who sparred and represented their clients, always in a face-to-face manner in a contentious collegiality personified by the two lawyers and friends, Guy Scott and Jim Hudson. Introduced by the man most likely to be a standup comic if he were not already a judge, Lawton Stephens, the closing panel—John Larkins, Denny Galis, David Montgomery and Dave Burch (all Esquire)—held forth on the exploits and idiosyncrasies of Scott and Hudson, who at the time and in retrospect were what all the lawyers now remember as the embodiment of the personal touch in legal representation.