The Russell Report

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Judge Richard W. Story announced this week that  he will soon take senior status. The AJC’s Bill Rankin broke the news. Judge Story will remain on the bench, but we will see less of him. Judge Story told Bill: “I look forward to doing the work of the court, but at a different pace. I still love what I am doing.” One of Judge Story’s former law clerks, Edward A. Marshall, recently wrote a marvelous profile of his former boss. The encomium will ring true for every one of us who has practiced in front of Judge Story.

Last week, President Trump nominated J.P. Boulee to the Northern District of Georgia bench. If confirmed, Judge Boulee will fill the vacancy left by Judge William S. Duffey Jr.’s recent retirement. For the past three years, Judge Boulee has served on the Dekalb County Superior Court. In that post, he founded a Veterans Treatment Court. Before his appointment to the Dekalb County bench, Boulee spent 15 years at Jones Day, where, among other duties, he represented clients charged with crimes in our own federal courthouse. In the late 1990’s, Judge Boulee served in the United States Army JAG Corps, where he was both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. The judge began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge Orinda D. Evans. You may follow the nomination’s progress at Judge Boulee’s Ballotpedia page.

Meanwhile, the seat vacated by Judge Harold Murphy remains open. Although fourteen months have passed since the President nominated Judge William “Billy” M. Ray, II, to fill that seat, the nomination remains pending. Judge Ray’s Ballotpedia page is here.

We will soon have a new United States Marshal. In June, President Trump nominated Michael S. Yeager. Once the Senate confirms him, Yeager will replace Beverly Harvard. Yeager has been the Sheriff of Coweta County for 25 years. The AJC reported the story here.

Our city’s United States Courthouse, or rather, its namesake, Richard B. Russell, Jr., has been in the national news these past two weeks. A group of senators (Democrats and Republicans alike) have proposed that the Senate remove Russell’s name from the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., and replace it with John McCain’s. The news drew objections from Russell’s family and political friends and heirs, who offered all the familiar responses. His niece, Sally Russell, began a statement to the Washington Post this way: “Dick Russell was a racist, but . . .” Former Senator Sam Nunn, who took over Russell’s Senate seat in 1972, and whose own name graces the federal building across the street from our federal courthouse, offered a statement to the AJC that began like this: “Richard Russell was wrong on civil rights, but . . .” But? But what? Nothing that follows that word can possibly repair Russell’s legacy enough to justify keeping his name on the Senate building, or on our own house of justice here in Atlanta.

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