1 ORGANIZATION AND MEMBERSHIP OF THE MACON BAR 1 While there are few records of the Macon Bar Association from the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, some idea of the early structure can be inferred from newspaper reports and from later references. From the beginning, the Judge of the Bibb Superior Court was considered the head of the Bar. If a lawyer called and convened a Bar meeting, the judge was then called to the chair. If a meeting was called when there was no available judge, as when the Bar met to memorialize the late Judge Bernard Hill, some other lawyer was called to the chair. There was no formal organization or officers for the first fifty years. The local attorneys did, from an early date, hold semi-annual social gatherings, called reunions. In November of 1859, such a meeting was held at the establishment of Henry Horne, Confectioner, on Cherry Street. This was a downcast affair because of the recent deaths of two young lawyers. Leadership was from some senior attorney, on a First Among Equals basis. It can be inferred from a few newspaper accounts that the old 1812 war veteran, Christopher B. Strong, had occupied this position until he removed from the city. The same inference makes Washington Poe his successor. In 1870, when the cornerstone of the Bibb County Courthouse was laid with great ceremony, Mr. Poe made the principal address. It was he who referred to the new structure as the Temple of Justice. The following list of Macon lawyers was placed in the cornerstone: Carlton B. Cole, Superior Court Judge; Washington Poe, Sr., B. Hill, E. A. Nisbet, John Rutherford, John J. Gresham, R. F. Lyon, James Jackson, R. S. Lanier, W. K. DeGraffenried, R. W. Jemison, James T. Nisbet, Samuel Hunter, H. W. Coles, A.W. Persons, E. F. Best, G. W. Gustin, R. W. Stubbs, R. A. Nisbet, Sidney Lanier, M. B. Guerry, H. M. Green, L. N. Whittle, S. D. Irvin, John B. Weems, Clifford Anderson, T. J. Simmons, A. O. Bacon, John P. Fort, T. B. Gresham, J. E. Schofield, Washington Poe, J.; there were thirty-two in all. Presumably, every eligible lawyer would see to it that his name was on this important list, making it, in effect, a picture of the Macon Bar at the time. The list is not in alphabetical order. The Superior Court Judge s name leads the list. It is notable that Washington Poe, Sr. s name comes next. The first dozen names on the list, at least, represent the senior members of the Macon Bar at that time. A few senior lawyers, i.e. Clifford Anderson, T. J. Simmons, do come further down the list. Perhaps they were late in signing. On February 28, 1874, Macon lawyers met at the new court house to organize a Bar Association. A constitution and bylaws were adopted but no copy exists. On March 4, the lawyers met again and elected Washington Poe (of course) as the first President of the Macon Bar Association. Clifford Anderson and James T. Nisbet were elected as vice presidents. Meetings were to be held on the first Tuesday night of each month. Notice of Bar meetings in the late nineteenth century was sometimes given by a small newspaper ad. 1 Excepted from Chapter 2 of The Judges and Lawyers of Macon, , Their Doings, Sayings, and Memorials, Frank M. McKenney, Indigo Custom Publishing, LLC/Henchard Press, Macon, GA. ISBN 10: Used with permission. Footnotes excluded. Available from Frank M. McKenney, 302 Oldham Building, Macon, GA or at
2 The next public record of a President of the Macon Bar Association, was in 1877, when John C. Rutherford, best known as defense counsel for Tom Woolfolk in Bibb County s notorious criminal case, so styled himself on a meeting notice. There is not another example of this designation until Isaac Hardeman signed an ad in The next person publicly designated as Macon Bar President after Hardeman was the remarkable Washington Dessau. He was President of the Macon Bar Association from at least 1899 until his death in Washington Dessau s entire life was high drama, from the time he served as a Confederate drummer boy, and then participated in the battle at Walnut Creek, until he dropped dead before the Supreme Court of Georgia. Highly respected as a lawyer, and loved as a man, Dessau was a leader in every worthwhile legal cause of his time, from standardized bar exams to a local law library, to the Georgia Bar Association. While in his early fifties, Dessau was warned that his health was failing, and that he must curtail his activities. He refused, saying, I will die in harness, with all my buckles polished. And so he did. Dessau loved to attend Confederate veterans gatherings. At one such gathering, the old men asked him to lead them on parade with his drum. As he once had done during the War. All of these men were at least ten years older than the portly, middle aged lawyer, but he was ailing. Nonetheless, he marched the distance, drumming away vigorously. Some thought the exertion stained his weakened heart. Some time later, Dessau was arguing a difficult case before the Georgia Supreme Court. One of the Justices questioned him closely. Dessau replied, I welcome the suggestion. For in the friction of minds the sparks of truth will often scintillate. With these words, Dessau fell back into his chair, and was dead when help reached him. Dessau had a hand in everything, and his name will often appear in this book. His name appears as Treasurer on the first slate of Bar officers elected in The next reference in print to a constitution or bylaws of the Association appears in At that time, a constitution drawn by Harry Strozier, Walter Defore, R. C. Jordan, and E. C. Herring was adopted at a Bar meeting held on February 6. The news article calls this constitution the first since reorganization twenty years ago. This would indicate a constitution was drawn at about the time Dessau was first referred to as president. There is a 1962 letter from Judge Lawton Miller sending a Bar constitution to Hendley Napier. Quoting Maurice Thomas, Judge Miller refers to this as a copy of the 1897 Bar constitution. This date would be within the same time frame as the 1920 newspaper reference. After the disruption of World War I brought most legal activity to a halt, a meeting of the Macon Bar was called by President R. C. Jordan, to re-organize the Bar. The lawyers met as usual in the Superior Court courtroom. Seventy lawyers attended, many of them young veterans eager to modernize the Bar. It was then voted to abolish the distinction between a Senior Bar and a Junior Bar. No previous reference to this distinction has been found. It was provided that monthly luncheon meetings would be held, at which research papers on topics of interest to lawyers would be read. The seventy lawyers even adopted a brief minimum fee schedule, with of course, some dissent. This meeting of May 16, 1919, should be considered the birthday of the modern Macon Bar Association. The 1920 constitution was an outgrowth of the 1919 meeting.
3 THE MACON LAWYERS CLUB On December 13, 1928, a separate organization tried to revitalize the Macon Bar. A group of younger lawyers met to form the Macon Lawyers Club. Among the participants were A.H.S. Weaver, Cubbedge Snow, Sr., J. D. Carlisle, and John J. McCreary. The purpose of the organization was described as to meet monthly, present papers and hear speakers on legal topics. Since these goals mirror the objectives of the 1919 organizational meeting, it must be assumed the Bar had rather quickly lapsed into inactivity. The Lawyers Club existed for about ten years. It not only had speakers of state-wide reputation address the club, but often invited the Macon Bar Association to meet with them on these occasions. Doug Carlisle was president of the Club in At that time, the Georgia Bar Association referred to the Macon Lawyers Club as the most active, progressive and worthwhile in the State. In 1935, R. Lanier Anderson was President of the Macon Lawyers Club, which then had twenty-two members, a very respectable percentage of the Bar, which then numbered about a hundred lawyers. The demise of the Macon Lawyers Club can be attributed in part to a revival of the Macon Bar Association, to the Great Depression, and to the dislocations of World War II. A Bar memorial to Felton Hatcher credits him with revival of the Macon Bar Association, which, it states, was moribund in the 1930s. Hatcher was elected Bar President for the year His stated goal was to revive the organization. In furtherance of that goal, he planned a grand reunion of Macon lawyers who had moved away. Invitations were sent out to scores of former members of the Macon Bar scattered about the state and nation, to attend a Homecoming Party. The idea was well received. On January 11, 1934, many former Macon lawyers gathered with the local Bar at the Hotel Dempsey for a banquet and an evening of music and dancing. About 135 lawyers and spouses attended; among them were: Gen. Blanton Winship, retiring Judge Advocate General of the Army; Judge Max Isaac of New York; Judge E. C. Collins of Florida, Judge Will Gunn of Atlanta, and Judge A. L. Miller of Savannah. President Hatcher presided, and former Maconite Clem Powers, then practicing in Atlanta, was the principal speaker. Powers reviewed the many new federal programs then pouring out of Washington. He warned presciently of the danger that programs and federal controls meant to cope with the crisis of the Depression would remain long after the crisis passed. The evening was a success, and marked an upswing in the Bar Association. Miller was elected to serve another term as Bar president, but unfortunately died in midterm. He was succeeded by the Vice President, Lloyd D. Moore. Moore protested that, at 78, he was too old to be president, but he was persuaded to serve. He was also reelected for another term. At age 79, he is the oldest person ever to be elected president of the Macon Bar. President Hatcher had favored an active, civic club form of Bar organization, with regular meetings, programs, and committees. This was the form advanced by the 1919 meeting, but not carried out. It was also the form of organization of the Macon Lawyers Club. Many of the older lawyers seem to have preferred the nineteenth century lodge form or organization, with annual meetings, or called meetings, and officers who served for indefinite terms. It was only when Cubbedge Snow, Sr., refused to accept nomination for a second term as president in 1938 that the single term precedent was set. Since that time, only Hendly Napier - as it happens, a law partner of Snow s - has served two terms, 1962 and 1963.
4 Presidents of the Macon Bar Association Washington Poe 1874 John Rutherford 1877 Isaac Hardeman 1895 Washington Dessau 1899 Washington Dessau 1900 Washington Dessau 1901 Washington Dessau 1902 Washington Dessau 1903 Washington Dessau 1904 Washington Dessau A. L. Miller 1907 John P. Ross 1908 John P. Ross 1909 Charles H. Hall 1911 Charles H. Hall 1912 N. E. Harris 1913 N. E. Harris 1914 Dupont Guerry 1916 R. C. Jordan 1918 R. C. Jordan Malcolm Jones Charles L. Bartlett 1921 Roland Ellis 1922 Roland Ellis 1923 Warren Grice 1924 Gen. Walter A. Harris 1925 J. Ellsworth Hall 1926 W. A. Harris 1928 Wallace Miller 1929 Pope F. Brock He probably succeeded Dessau in 1906, but there is no record of that. All of the gaps in this list could probably be filled with the name preceding or following the gap but there is not written evidence of that. 3 He was the first Superior Court Judge to be officially president of the Bar. 4 Rep. Bartlett is the only former Congressman to become Macon Bar Association President. Jim Marshall, MBA President in , was elected to Congress after his term. Pope F. Brock 1931 W. C. Turpin, Jr Charles Akerman 1933 M. Felton Hatcher 1934 M. Felton Hatcher Lloyd D. Moore 1935 Lloyd D. Moore 1936 E. P. Johnston Cubbedge Snow, Sr Harry Strozier 1939 Grady Gillon 1940 Arnold Jacobs 1941 A. H. S. Weaver 1942 A. O. B. Sparks 1943 Luther Bloodworth 1944 Oscar L. Long 1945 Hallie Bell 1946 Maurice Thomas 1947 Edward S. Sell 1948 T. Coleman Bloodworth 1949 John M. Hancock 1950 Hal Bell 1951 John D. Maddox 1952 Lawton Miller 1953 Frank C. Jones 1954 David L. Mincey 1955 John D. Comer 1956 S. Gus Jones 1957 T. Reese Watkins 1958 Denmark Groover 1959 Neal D. McKenney 1960 Buckner F. Melton Hendley V. Napier 1962 Hendley V. Napier Moore succeeded on the death of Hatcher and is the oldest person to serve as Bar President. 6 When he refused nomination for reelection, it set the precedent for a single term. 7 He was the first president to serve more than one term in twenty five years.
5 H. T. O Neal 1964 J. Alton Gladin 1965 Phillip R. Taylor 1966 Cubbedge Snow, Jr Rudolph Patterson 1968 Tully M. Bond Doye E. Green Timothy K. Adams Lester Zack Dozier F. Kennedy Hall Edward J. Harrell Carr G. Dodson John W. Wingate David B. Higdon Ronald T. Knight Tommy Day Wilcox Benjamin M. Garland Hubert C. Lovein, Jr G. McGregor Jordan, Jr Lamar W. Sizemore John C. Edwards Sallie Jocoy Thomas C. Alexander Frank H. Childs, Jr H. Randolph Aderhold Richard M. Katz R. William Buzzell W. Louis Sands James C. Marshall Robert R. Gunn Martha C. Christian Thomas H. Hinson William P. Adams Mary Katz Gregory J. Leonard Susan S. Cole Robert C. Norman John P. Cole Pamela White-Colbert Paula Kapiloff Charles L. Ruffin Thomas W. Herman Elizabeth F. Thompson Jeffrey B. Hanson The terms of office for Macon Bar officers was changed to conform to the State Bar terms; Green therefore served 18 months as president. 9 An administrative law judge, she was the first woman elected President of the Macon Bar. 10 He was the first black lawyer elected President of the Macon Bar. 11 He subsequently was elected to Congress.
6 MEMBERSHIP Macon seems to have a peculiarly suitable background for the production of lawyers. Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice William Hanzel Fish. Macon Telegraph 24 Jan 1923 The first Macon City Directory after the War (1866) lists the following lawyers and law firms: A. O. Bacon, S. T. Bailey, N. H. Bass, Emory Best, Joel Branham, C. B. Cole, Cobb & Jackson, W. K. & M. degraffenreid, Harris & Hunter, B. Hill, Lanier & Anderson, Nisbets, (there were three of them, E. A., J. A., and J. T.), W. Poe, Greer & Poe, Whittle & Gustin, O. A. Lochrans, and John P. Fort. These represented approximately the same number of Macon attorneys as in the immediate pre-war years, although many of the individuals had changed. There would be many more changes in the next five years. Firms broke up and reformed, lawyers retired or moved away, and new lawyers arrived. The firm of Robert Lanier and Clifford Anderson endured, with permutations, for many years. The courthouse cornerstone list, previously referred to, shows a membership gain in only four years, of twenty-five percent. Seventy lawyers, probably most but not all of the active lawyers, attended the post WWI Bar meeting of 1919, more than doubling the membership in forty years. Subsequent Bar Association membership figures cannot be taken as the total number of lawyers in Macon. In 1938, the Association treasurer, Hendley Napier, reported sixty-seven lawyers had joined the Association. Other sources indicate about a hundred lawyers in Macon at the time. Napier probably was only reporting the number of lawyers who had paid their dues. In 1938, the economy had not recovered from the Depression, and Depression times were hard. A much later, undated membership list of the Macon Bar Association names 149 members. Internal evidence would place this list circa Another list from the file of Hendley Napier s administration as president, dated 1962, and not including judges, lists 141 members. In each of these last two lists, the number given probably represents 90 percent of the practicing lawyers at the time. In the 1970's, the Bar began to expand rapidly. The Macon telephone directory for 1979 lists 235 individual attorneys. This number does not include many of the privately employed lawyers, nonpracticing lawyers, and judges, nor most lawyers employed by the law school or the Federal District Court. These would raise the total to something over 250. The all-inclusive State Bar Directory for 1995 lists 565 lawyers in Macon. The same Directory for 2004 lists 670. Making all allowances, the increase in licensed attorneys since the 1970s is startling. In 2004, approximately 440 lawyers were dues-paying members of the Macon Bar Association. As previously stated, for roughly the first seventy-five years of the local Bar, every lawyer practicing in the Bibb Superior Court was considered a member of the Macon Bar Association. It cannot be determined with certainty when any additional membership qualifications were added, but such qualifications were probably in place by 1920 and certainly by The Bar Association constitutional amendment adopted at a meeting that year set out that a member must be: actively engaged in the practice of his profession as his principal vocation, or a judge of a State or Federal court having jurisdiction in the county, and must be of good moral character, not knowingly engaged
7 12 in conduct calculated to bring the profession into disrepute. The constitution sent to Hendley Napier in 1953 makes additional people eligible for membership: Mercer law professors, lawyer employees of the courts, and bank trust officers. Retired lawyers who practiced in Macon may be elected honorary members. Somewhere over the years since 1938, the good moral character clause has been deleted from Association membership requirements. On rare occasions in years past, lawyers have applied for and been denied membership in the Macon Bar Association. The last, and only, denial of which there is a record occurred during the presidency of Buckner F. Melton. The rather raffish applicant had a DUI charge pending at the time of his application, but that alone would not have barred him. Such charges were not unknown among lawyers who were already Bar Association members in good standing. The membership committee had other reasons for denial in this case. The applicant had a law office elsewhere, as well as in Macon, and was thought to have a previous criminal conviction. President Melton, ever the gentleman, wrote the smoothest letter that could be composed under the circumstances, denying the applicant membership. Retired Macon lawyers are now honorary members of the Association without action by the membership. They need pay no dues after reaching the age of 75. J. HARRY BURNS Despite all of the above, the Macon Bar Association has had one non-lawyer member, J. Harry Burns. Harry Burns was for forty-one years an employee in the Clerk s office of the City Court of Macon (now the State Court of Bibb County). He was Clerk of that Court for fourteen years, until his death in Burns was a Steward at Mulberry Methodist Church from the time he was seventeen years old, and very active in other civic areas. Harry Burns and his wife had no children, and so he made the young Macon lawyers coming into practice his children. For a lifetime, he was helpful and considerate to generations of new lawyers, far beyond the requirements of his office. In such high esteem was Harry Burns held by Macon lawyers, that he was elected a member of the Macon Bar Association, constitutional limits to the contrary notwithstanding. He even acted as treasurer of the Association for several years, and when he died, he was given a memorial by the Bar. There has never been another lay member of the Macon Bar Association, nor is there any other known memorial by the Macon Bar for a lay person. DUES Macon Bar dues were required to be set annually by vote of the members. Dues in 1953 were $2.00 per year. There was a move to raise the dues, which according to a letter from Frank Jones to Lawton Miller, brought spirited debate. Macon Bar dues nevertheless were doubled by 1959 to 12 A word about the constitutions, amendments, by laws, and minutes of The Macon Bar Association. They are adopted, distributed, filed, and then often lost or forgotten. The very limited Bar archives that exist contain plaintive inquiries into the location of the Bar constitution or bylaws.
8 $4 per annum. Georgia Bar dues that year were $6 per annum. By 1961, annual Macon Bar dues were $8. In 1970, dues increased to $12, and to $20 in By 1985, the Bar dues had reached $40. At that time, the dues covered the cost of the meal at meetings. Entering the twenty-first century, Macon Bar Association dues were $60. LOCAL TAX AND LICENSE FEES In 1952, the City of Macon, perennially short of money, sought to levy a $50 annual license fee on professions, including the Bar. The Bibb County Medical Society at first agreed to this. What s $50 to a doctor? Macon accountants also acquiesced in the new fee, but not so the Macon Bar Association. The Bar Association formally objected to the fee on the grounds that only the State has the right to license lawyers. After the principal involved was explained to them by the lawyers, the doctors and accountants withdrew their approval. A Bar committee was appointed to meet with the city council finance committee. There were implied threats of a possible law suit. Eventually, a $35 professional fee was adopted. Macon s ordinance was said to be the first such city professional license fee in the state. The local doctors, architects, Certified Public Accountants, and most of the Macon lawyers, paid the fee. Some dozen Macon lawyers had to be first threatened with prosecution in Recorder s Court, but they paid. The lawyers, however, were not through with the issue. They took their case to the General Assembly, where there were then many lawyers. Since other municipalities were also adopting professional fees, Macon lawyers found a lot of support. The State of Georgia imposed a $15 per year limitation on all municipal professional licenses, and there the matter rested for some years. This was not the Bar s finest hour. Every little beauty shop, drugstore and filling station had to pay whatever license fees the city imposed, and these licenses were often high. They had no sympathy whatever for the professional limitation. Soon a Bibb County candidate for the General Assembly saw the professional license limit as a good political issue to run on. He was elected and succeeded in changing the State limit to $200. In 1970, Macon raised lawyers annual license to $100. Doctors were stuck with the full $200. In 1972, six Macon lawyers filed suit in Bibb Superior Court, challenging the constitutionality of Macon s license ordinance, all in the furtherance of a high principal, mind you. Bibb Superior Court Judge George Culpepper threw out the Macon ordinance on technical grounds. Lawyers were winning the battles, but losing the war. The City corrected technical flaws in its license ordinance, and, by 1974, Macon lawyers were paying the full $200 City license permitted by state law. The Macon license fee for lawyers remained at $200 for many years. Now under a complex license system, the present professional license fee for lawyers can be less than $100 per year.
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