really operate in teams and our teams are
intersectional. We tend to cross over to
help one another. So when I say we, that’s
what I’m talking about.
Q: Do you tend to remember the cases
you win or the cases you lose?
A: One of my old friends, Duross
Fitzpatrick, who was a federal judge in
the middle district, once said, “You like
to remember that one, don’t you?” Those
were the big successes. Jim Donnan’s case,
the one I tried last year, is perhaps the
most recent example of a euphoric win.
But there are certainly those dramatic
losses that stick in my mind. The most
obvious is probably United States v. Walter
Leroy Moody, who was charged with and
convicted of killing a federal judge in
Birmingham, Alabama, and a prominent
lawyer in Savannah, Georgia, among many
From those types of cases, you learn,
first of all, an awful lot about the dark side
of humanity and secondly about various
individuals’ personality disorders and how
they got to where they are. Oftentimes it’s
a novel area of the law or it’s an area of
the law that requires you to push. In this
case I just described, it went to the United
States Supreme Court four times. Finally,
you oftentimes learn a new subject matter
or you learn about some new technology.
I just tried a federal murder case in
Q: In the Walter Moody case, did you
Savannah in February, and when we got
through with the trial, the trial judge
commented that if there was ever any
doubt that big brother is watching us, that
doubt has been resolved because the case
involved the amazing ability of the FBI to
track Americans no matter where they are
and no matter what they’re doing.
represent him just in Georgia or also in
A: I represented him in two Georgia
cases, which were both federal. I did not
represent him in Alabama. He was initially
represented by a very good Alabama
lawyer, but at the trial he chose to
represent himself and received the death
penalty from a state jury in Alabama. He’s
still on death row.
Q: This was a man accused of killing
both a judge and a civil rights attorney.
What was the reaction from the legal
community when you were representing
A: From some people it was, “Thank God
the judge didn’t call me.” But for the
most part, lawyers are semi-intelligent
people. They understand the obligations
and duties of a lawyer. I really didn’t have
any blowback from anyone, including
the federal judges, because everybody
understood that it was a case that had
to be tried. Those are cases that you do.
Your brother and sister lawyers, and your
brother and sister judges, they understand
Q: What about civilians?
A: The uninformed civilian always has the
same question: “How can you represent
somebody that’s guilty?” I answer that
question depending on how I feel that day.
Q: What’s the good-mood answer and
what’s the bad-mood answer?
A: The bad-mood answer may be as
short as, “That’s what I do.” The good-mood answer is, “Well, you understand
that we are an adversary system, and the
Constitution requires a vigorous defense
and a vigorous prosecution, and that’s how
we ensure that an innocent person is not
convicted.” That’s the long answer I give at
Q: How did you get into the law in the
A: I was a soldier. I went to the
University of Georgia undergrad and I
went in the U.S. Army. I came back and
started on a master’s degree in business
and took the law school entrance exam
almost on a lark, and did quite well on
it. A number of people at the Georgia
Law School were friends that I had in
college. I just decided to try it. It turns
out I liked it.
Q: You seem to have a predilection for
the University of Georgia.
A: I have three degrees from the
University of Georgia, so it’s a fair
assessment. I married a woman who
has four degrees from the University
of Georgia. We like to joke that we
have more degrees together than a
thermometer. But I do love the University
of Georgia. I’ve been privileged to
handle cases with them and for them
on a number of occasions. I got a great
education there. My son graduated from
there as well.