Three generations of Garlands: John and Edward standing before a portrait of Reuben.
“The world revolved around my father
and his trials and clients,” Garland adds.
“He tried close to 500 murder cases with
hundreds of acquittals, and never had but
one man die. Among my earliest memories,
my dad would answer the phone and the
conversation would go, ‘Hello? Yes, this is
Reuben A. Garland. You’re in jail for what?
Now lemme tell you something—don’t you
talk to anybody! A fish wouldn’t get caught if
it kept its mouth shut. Talk to no one except
Reuben A. Garland!’”
In many ways Garland, of Garland,
Samuel & Loeb, is more low-key and
measured than his father, but he takes
after him in this way: He’s the lawyer
you go to if you’re in serious trouble in
the South. Just ask Pittsburgh Steelers
quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Baltimore
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, former
Atlanta Thrashers hockey player Dany
Heatley or rapper T.I.—a few of Garland’s
more famous clients.
Garland wasn’t pushed to go into the
family business; he just never thought about
anything else. “That was the world that
surrounded me,” he says. “I grew up idolizing
my father, and did throughout his career.”
Garland is also a master storyteller.
When it matters—when someone’s life is
at stake—he turns up the drama. You feel
yourself leaning forward to hear what he
has to say.
Consider his press conference in
the Ray Lewis case. In 2000, Lewis, in
Atlanta attending a Super Bowl party,
was on the scene when two men were
stabbed to death in a fight. The case drew
enormous media attention, and Garland
immediately seized the opportunity. He
started the press conference sounding
like an old-time Southern preacher,
referencing the man wrongly accused
in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing. “I
can hear the whistle blowing on the
prosecution train,” he said. “And the
first person on it is Richard Jewell. And the
second seat they are reserving for Ray Lewis.”
“That was a lot of fun,” says Garland,
chuckling. “We kept up a relentless
counterattack. We were on the edge of what
is proper. But sometimes a lawyer has to be
willing to walk up to the edge to fight for his
client.” The prosecution ultimately dismissed
murder charges during the trial, and Lewis
pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.