It is an honor and a privilege to talk about John Denney. John was my friend, my law partner, my mentor, a truly outstanding lawyer and a great person.
John's reputation with his clients, his friends and fellow lawyers was always one of integrity, dedication and professionalism. I first met John in 1974 when I interviewed with him and later practiced law as a young lawyer at the Kelly, Champion, Denney and Pease law firm. I have known and respected him ever since.
For some of you who may not have known John for years, I'll give a little background: John was born in North Carolina in 1934. At an early age, his family moved to a farm in Harris County, Georgia, where young Johnthen called Billygrew up.
John's achievements and his successes started early; he was the first in his family to go to college. John had to borrow money to help pay his college tuition and he worked his way through college and law school with jobs as an investigator and claims adjustor. After John graduated from Mercer Law School in 1957, he and [his wife] Loma came to Columbus, where he practiced law for 55 years. John learned law from the ground up all aspects of law. He started by checking titles at the old Muscogee County Courthouse.
Early on, John was appointed to defend and try a number of cases. He did so well defendingand winning acquittals in these casesthat he soon was appointed assistant solicitor of the Muscogee State Court.
In 1962, John went into private practice and, shortly after that, he was asked to join the Kelly Champion law firm, one of the leading law firms in Columbus. For 50 years, John was a member of that firm and its successor firms. John was the senior partner at Denney, Pease, Allison & Kirk for 30 years and trained lots of bright young lawyers.
During John's career, he tried virtually every type of case you can imagine. He represented insurance companies, major corporations, small businesses and individuals; he did real estate work, workers' compensation and corporate work, and he served as general counsel and director of a sizable construction company.
A while back, John and I were talking, and he reminded me that he had tried over 20 different types of cases. John was a zealous advocate for his clients and an effective lawyer.
John was always prepared. At docket call, John's stock answer when the judge asked if he were ready was, "Ready, your honor," whether he had five cases or 25 cases on the docket. Once, we tried five cases to jury verdict in two weeks.
In 1975, John was recognized by his peers and he was elected a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 1997, John received the State Bar of Georgia General Practice & Trial Section's Tradition of Excellence award as the outstanding defense lawyer in Georgia. In 2000, John was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the American Board of Trial Advocates.