than a cemetery and therefore the city
of Savannah has immunity from claims
such as interference with a burial that
arise in that cemetery.
The one judge who dissented was a guy
named George T. Smith. George T. Smith
is the only lawyer in Georgia who has ever
served in all three branches of government.
He was the lieutenant governor of Georgia,
he served in the state Legislature and
he was on the Georgia Supreme Court.
George T. Smith wrote a dissent—and you
can Google this case, it’s called Radford
v. Mayor and Aldermen of the City of
Savannah—and it starts out this way: “A
cemetery is a cemetery is a cemetery, and
a park is a park is a park, and never the two
shall meet—except in this Court.” Then
he goes off for 10 pages excoriating the
court for making that decision. When that
happened, I was just fired up as you have
ever, like a kid in a candy shop, because on
my own I had come up with this theory that
essentially created law in Georgia.
Q: You were judge pro tem for a period
during this time. Did you learn anything
as a judge that you carried with you into
A: Yes. You get to observe what good
lawyers do, what average lawyers do, and
what not-so-good lawyers do. And that
helps make you a better lawyer.
Q: Such as?
A: Preparation. The lawyers who do the best
job are the ones who are most prepared.
Q: What drew you to the law?
A: My dad and granddad both graduated
from Georgia Tech. When you grow up in
small town South Georgia and you’re a
Georgia Tech fan, which I was because of
them, you were the butt of every joke of
the Georgia Bulldog kids. So I had decided
I wasn’t going to Georgia. Well, I had an
uncle who had gone to Auburn who was
a veterinarian. I had another uncle who
had gone to Duke University who was a
judge. I wanted to either be a veterinarian
or a medical doctor and so naturally I went
to the school where my uncle who was a
veterinarian had gone, instead of Duke,
where the lawyer, later judge, had gone.
After about a year and a half of calculus
and chemistry and physics, it was clear to
me I was not going to med school or vet
school. So I re-evaluated. My strengths
have always been writing and speaking,
so I switched to journalism, with minors in
political science and English, and basically
made A’s from that point forward, then
went to law school. It turns out that it was
a very good decision for me.
A lot of kids go to college and they don’t
know what they want to do. You’ve got to
hopefully find where your aptitudes are. I
was able to do that. I have really enjoyed
practicing law all these years. It’s been
good to me and my family.
This interview has been edited and condensed.