Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Goolsby "War Story" About Bridges, Trains, and Getting to Court on Time!

[Photo from]
As a Georgia trial lawyer and history lover, I have always enjoyed times spent sitting around in court and talking with other (older) attorneys, while waiting for the judge to take the bench.  Some of these conversations and "war stories" about the "good ole' days" of practicing law in Georgia are priceless!

One recent conversation involved the topic of the importance of getting to court on time for a trial.  After all, you never want to keep a judge waiting!  A fellow lawyer, from a nearby town, described his experiences as a young lawyer.  He pointed out that the railroad tracks ran between his law office and the local courthouse.  Inevitably, a train would always be passing through town whenever he was running late for court.  Incredibly, the lawyer said his solution was to park his car, grab his briefcase, jump aboard the moving train, climb down on the other side, and dash off to court on foot!

I recounted my own experience about getting to court on time.  As you will see, I took a different, more conservative approach.  As a former federal prosecutor, sometimes, I had to travel to federal court in Brunswick, Georgia.  The late famous federal Judge Anthony A. Alaimo held court there.  The judge, a former p.o.w. during World War II, was well known for holding in contempt any lawyers who were late for court.  You never wanted to keep this venerable judge waiting, or cause him to look down from the bench in disfavor at you!  As a young lawyer, I was convinced that his piercing eyes, staring down over his eyeglasses, could burn a hole through any disobedient attorney! 

Do you recall what happened, in the first Indiana Jones movie, when the Nazi officer looked into the ark of the covenant!?  He got zapped!  I didn't want to get zapped!

So, here was my dilemma.  When staying overnight, prior to his court, in Brunswick, I had a choice to make.  I could either stay in town, or stay out at Jekyll Island, a nearby beach.  The beach idea was much more appealing!  But the problem with the beach idea was that there was a drawbridge located between the beach and town.  As a result, if you stayed at the beach, you ran the risk of being late for court, if the bridge was raised to allow a ship to pass through.  

I'll be honest here!  I was afraid of being late for Judge Alaimo's court!  So, I always stayed in town! 

What would you have done?  Would you have stayed at the beach and risked the judge's ire?  (Trust me!  You would never want this judge to zap you!)  Or would you jump aboard a moving train to get to court on time!?  You just never know what you will learn while sitting around in a courtroom and telling war stories with other lawyers!

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