Day 4

CITY FOCUS: Augusta Still Feels the Influence of John Ruffin

, Daily Report

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In a city that takes its history seriously, it makes sense that the 340-member Augusta Bar Association is one of the oldest in Georgia, founded in 1895.

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  • Mark Wortham

    I was Judge Ruffin‘s first law clerk. He was sworn in about a month after Chief Judge Fleming hired me as the Circuit‘s sole law clerk. For whatever his reason, Jack took me under his wing. We established a deep friendship and over the years we kept in touch. After a few years in Augusta, I moved to Atlanta to practice. A few years later Jack moved to Atlanta after his appointment to the Court of Appeals. I miss him frequently, particularly when I have a question about appellate jurisdiction, or just want to hear a good story. And there are the times when I reflect on our many lunches, sometimes with Don Hollowell, and the many stories about the Civil Rights movement. And there are fond memories of walks around town with me watching Jack, with his deadpan humor, befuddle people on the street, wait staff, the nice lady at the counter, or just about anyone. I know there are many others more close to him than me, and I cannot imagine how much they miss him.

    Jack had a lot of stories, and one story, early in our friendship, sticks with me to this day. When he was sworn as a member of the Bar, Roy Harris, a local lawyer and Speaker of the Georgia House, refused to shake Jack‘s hand. Many years later, after Jack had made a reputation for being a man of his word, a very hard worker and fine lawyer, Mr. Harris stopped Jack in the courthouse, shook his hand, and apologized. Things do change, though slowly. And while they are imperfect to this day they are much better. Both Jack Ruffin and Roy Harris, and many folks like them, are both responsible for that.

  • Vicky O. Kimbrell

    Jack Ruffin was a true gentleman who fought for justice and civil rights in Augusta long before it became the acceptable thing to do. He was an inspiration to young lawyers. He had a dedication and an unerring sense of doing the right thing in his everyday practice and in life.

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