Remembering Chief Justice Hines

by Michelle Barclay. Published in November 2018.

For many years, I worked as staff for the Supreme Court’s Committee on Justice for Children, and had the privilege of working closely with the Chair of that Committee, Chief Justice P. Harris Hines.  His insights and concern for Georgia’s children were a constant inspiration to me and to many others.  For the last couple of years, CJ Hines talked about how, in general, we need to care and to express our love for each other more as colleagues.  I think Justice Hines’ main point was this: we spend so much time together, often doing intense work, and while we are not family we are something pretty close to it.  Thus, we need to express care, concern or love for each other.  I know CJ Hines was concerned about the mental health and pressures on the lawyers of Georgia.  I mostly listened to his musings on this subject and often fell into teasing mode. He teased right back – just like family.

In March 2018, I heard Presiding Justice Melton introduce Chief Justice Hines, who was receiving an Emory Public Service award. Now Chief Justice Melton told the audience of students and lawyers that Justice Hines is the only workmate who ever told him that he loved him, and it was not at all weird.

This past August, Justice Nahmias remarked at an awards event for Judge Peggy Walker that CJ Hines is always saying lawyers need to tell each other that we love each other more. Go to min. 2:50:

This past summer, the CJ and his wife Helen, their two adult children and spouses held a shrimp boil at their Cobb County home.  I received an invitation, and assumed it was a big party to celebrate his tenure.  It was not.  I should have asked more questions (and been on time!) because it was a small gathering just for staff and their spouses.  His grown children and their spouses helped serve us and joined us at our tables.  They also had many desserts (including yummy homemade ice cream) for all of us.  Before dinner started, CJ Hines made some remarks about how much he loved all of us, how much we helped him, and that he and his family wanted to honor us before he retired.  It was a deeply touching gift because it was apparent how much work and effort the whole family had put into giving us this party.  Throughout all the years I knew him, the CJ showed his kindness in this way.

For a long time, but especially during this past year, a lot of love and affection has been expressed to CJ Hines and he gave it right back to us.  Remembering all of this gives some comfort right now.  I’m reflecting on his theme of “love each other more” – and I am going to work to weave that theme into the fibers of my life.  CJ Hines will be so dearly missed, and he was exceedingly loved.