Partial Transcript: You know, before we get too far, let's explain George T. and George L....
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about his early life in Mitchell County, Georgia, growing up in a family of farmers, and describes life in the 1920s and 1930s, including the early growth of cotton.
Keywords: Mitchell County, Georgia; agriculture; boll weevil; cotton
Partial Transcript: I stayed at that place and went to school at--
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about dropping out of school after eighth grade, going back to finish high school at age eighteen, and attending first Middle Georgia College in Macon, then transferring to Abraham Baldwin College in Tifton. He talks about being president of the student body and working his way through school.
Keywords: Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College; Middle Georgia College; education
Partial Transcript: I got out of that, ABAC, and got in the Navy.
Segment Synopsis: Smith recalls signing up for the Navy, attending officer training school, and working on a transport-guard submarine. He talks about visiting Hawai'i on a transport ship expedition, and recalls being bombed in the Atlantic Ocean.
Keywords: Hawai'i; Hawaii; Pacific Theater; U.S. Navy; World War II; bombing; conscription; submarine
Partial Transcript: So I came back home and went to the University of Georgia.
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about attending law school at the University of Georgia after World War II and working with a law practice in his hometown of Cairo, Georgia.
Keywords: Cairo, Georgia; Grady County; University of Georgia; World War II; law school
Partial Transcript: Grady County had a terrible record for representatives getting into politics.
Segment Synopsis: Smith recalls how he decided to enter into politics at the behest for better representation from locals constituents. He mentions the committee appointments he received as a freshman senator.
Keywords: Appropriations Committee; Judicial Committee; University of Georgia Committee
Partial Transcript: Carl Sander ran then.
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about deciding to support Carl Sanders in his race for governor, the effect that the abolition of the county unit system had on elections outcomes, and becoming Speaker of the House after Sander's election.
Keywords: Carl Sanders; Marvin Griffin; Speaker of the House; county unit system; governor
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about his decision to run for the Court of Appeals. He highlights his distinction of being the only person to be elected to three high-ranking political positions: Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, and Court of Appeals judge. He also talks about working as Lester Maddox's Lieutenant Governor, as well as the story behind the letter "T" in his name.
Keywords: Lester Maddox; lieutenant governor
Partial Transcript: So in 1976, you ran for the Court of Appeals.
Segment Synopsis: Smith talks about his race for the Court of Appeals, the support of Judge Charlie Pannell, and the major influence the "good ol' boys" network had on selecting judges. Smith also talks about the way he approached his role on the Georgia Supreme Court and his frequent dissenting opinions.
Keywords: Charlie Pannell; Georgia Court of Appeals; Georgia Supreme Court; dissenting opinion
Subjects: good 'ole boy
Partial Transcript: Let me ask you this question about evidence: DNA.
Segment Synopsis: Smith comments on the still limited implementation of DNA evidence during his time on the Supreme Court in the 1980s. He also reflects on memorable cases, including the Atlanta Child Murders case and a case regarding marital rape.
Keywords: Atlanta Child Murders case; DNA evidence; death penatly; marital rape case; oral arguments
Partial Transcript: You were Speaker of the House, Judge Smith, during the period when Julian Bond was denied his seat.
Segment Synopsis: Smith recalls how Representative Julian Bond was denied his seat in the House in response to Bond's speaking out again the Vietnam War draft. Murphy recalls how, as Speaker of the House during the incident, he implemented preventative measures to manage the tension and arranged for a judiciary hearing.
Keywords: Civil Rights Movement; Georgia House of Representatives; Julian Bond
BOB SHORT: Im Bob Short and this is Reflections on GeorgiaPolitics, sponsored by Young Harris College, the Richard B. Russell Library and the University of Georgia. Our guest is George T. Smith, the only Georgian in modern political history to be elected Speaker of the House, Lieutenant Governor, Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals and a Supreme Court Justice. What shall I call you: Mr. Speaker, Governor, or Judge Smith?
GEORGE SMITH: George T.
SHORT: George T. You know, before we get too far, lets explain George T. andGeorge L. You probably would not have used your middle initial, would you, if there hadnt been a George L.?
SMITH: No, no.
SHORT: And both of you were Speakers.00:01:00
SMITH: Yeah. He was Speaker and I was Speaker, and he was Speaker and I wasLieutenant Governor, and they never got us straight. The news media never did get us straight.
SHORT: Well ...
SMITH: It helped us because whenever they printed something in there bad aboutme, I told them that was George L. they was talking about. (laughter) And whenever they started on George L., he said that was George T. youre talking about. (laughter)
SHORT: Well, it all began for you in Mitchell County.
SHORT: Do you...
SMITH: No, no, no Cobb Cobb? Grady County.
SMITH: I was born oh, yeah, I was born and raised in Mitchell, youre right.
SHORT: Mitchell County. You were born there and what was it like growing upback then in Mitchell County?
SMITH: Well, I was born October 15, 1916. Of course, I was about 6 years oldbefore I remember anything because I started school when I was 6 years old. We were all farmers, no automobiles, no trucks, all wagons, buggies and riding 00:02:00mules and horses. I dont remember an automobile. There were just scattered automobiles. I dont remember automobiles until 1924. I was 8 years old. There were scattered automobiles, but I didnt get to go to town, so I didnt see any of them. I was born at my grandmothers house. My mother was the baby girl, and I was born in the community of Greenwood I mean, Hopeful. I was born in Hopeful at my grandmothers home and came back to the old log cabin house that my grandfather built when he came back from the War between the States. By the way, he went to the War between the States. He was at the first Battle of Manassas and he was at Appomattox. He went through the entire war and didnt get a crippling injury. Its amazing. I followed him several years 00:03:00later and I was just glad I got through without a crippling injury. But I was born and raised there, and we went back to that small little old small farm 125 acres. And I lived there for a couple of years and then daddy moved to Flint to be an overseer. Then he came back home to the home farm, and he came back because cotton was just coming in big and was making so much money he decided hed come back home and start back farming again with cotton because it was so it made so much money than what he was. He came back in 1920 or 21; I dont remember which year. But it was the first year that the boll weevil invaded the South. He had 40 acres of cotton and made one bale. Lost all of it to boll weevils. Well, he tried again the next year and made another bale 00:04:00of 40 acres and, ultimately, lost his place as a result of because the money he borrowed to farm on those two years, he paid interest on it until he lost his place in 1935. The interest was the only thing in the world thats higher than it is now. Interest was 8 percent. And he lost his place because he couldnt pay 8 percent interest on $3,000.
SMITH: Listen. You dont know what a hard time is if you didnt go throughthe 1929 to 19 til the war started. You don't know a thing about it.
SMITH: Hogs, 2 cents a pound. Cotton, 3 to 5 cents a pound. Peanuts, $20 to$22 a ton. Corn was about, I think it was 24 cents a bushel. And you dont 00:05:00know what hard times were. The difference is this. We never had known any better, so we didnt know any better. Thats exactly the difference.
SMITH: What it is now? [Indiscernible] wed have a revolution now if thingswere as cheap as they were back then. I went to I didnt go to town but two times a year. That was when the bought the first load of guano in the spring and the first bale of cotton in the fall. Daddy gave me a nickel every time I went, and a nickel bought more than you might think. Its just usually change now, but back then you could buy something for a nickel.
SMITH: I stayed at that place and went to school at I started school when Iwas 6 years old. Walked three miles each way every day, and I went to Pine Cliff. The reason I went to Pine Cliff, because the young lady that was teaching 00:06:00at Pine Cliff, her name was Ella McCoy and she was from Tennessee. She had a record of being a very fine teacher. And she was; she was absolutely a gem of a teacher. Daddy had something about not going to start school until youre 6 years old. Well, I was 6 years old in October, but I didnt start school until January 1st. Well, when I started January 1st, Ms. Ella had four classes. And it was a two-room it was a one-room schoolhouse split in two, so we had two rooms and the other teacher had from 5, 6 and 7. Ms. Ella, Ms. McCoy, had the first four. So I had seven months of school. My class was the last one in the day, 4:00 in the afternoon. School opened at 8, by the way. I walked three miles. You imagine what time I left home walking three miles in December to 00:07:00school every day? Whenever she started with me, she took me the last class at 4:00. And she took me in her lap. So she taught me the first half of my school time sitting in her lap. So I passed the 1st grade the first year. Went there until I finished the 4th grade and went through the 5th and, when I got through the 5th, the teacher the other teacher 5th grade (by the way, she married a cousin of my daddy), she was horrible. So he switched me to Greenwood. It was about the same distance I walked to Greenwood. Ms. Helen I cant think of her last name Helen, anyway, she taught me down there. She was a good teacher but she couldnt touch Ms. Ella McCoy. She was one of the best I 00:08:00ever had. I went there one year, and then they put on a bus route to Hopeful. I lived about three, four about five miles from Hopeful, so they put a bus route on and I started riding the bus. That was a new adventure. I went to school until Christmas of 7th grade and daddy took me out and put me to work at Christmas of the 8th grade. I finished the 7th grade, had all As. Went to Christmas in 8th grade and had all Ds. So my father said, Son, are you tired of going to school? I said, Yes, I am. He said, Well, all right then. Said, Monday morning, said, you hitch up Rowdy and Roddy 00:09:00and start breaking that land back yonder next to the Pollocks. Well, it took me about two weeks to really realize what I had done. Id made a terrible error. Five years later, I started back in the 8th grade at 18 years old. I had learned to appreciate it. Whenever I first got to be Speaker of the House and Id be talking to school people that particularly wanted to make a point, theyd say, This is the young man who went to school and dropped out of school, and he realized that education was so good he went back in school to get an education. I always corrected, That wasnt the reason. You plow a mule in south Georgia five years, and dog gone if you wont do anything to get back in a classroom or wherever it takes. (laughter) So I started school at 00:10:00Hopeful at Christmas when I was 18 years old. I finished school at Hopeful when I was 21. Went to Middle Georgia when I was 22 for one quarter. And going to Middle Georgia was a misguided place. Middle Georgia was a junior college society school. I was out of my class literally and figuratively, so at Christmas I went and switched to Abraham Baldwin. The main reason I switched to Abraham Baldwin, Id run out of money and didnt take but one year. Tuition was only 69 dollars and a half. You had to buy your books, but tuiton, food and board were only 69 dollars and a half. So I went to ABAC, as we called it, 00:11:00Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton. Its strictly a rural school. Most of the folks there were working their way through, and I went there because I could work my way through. I know the last year, I didnt spend but $6. I worked my way totally through the last year because during the summer between my first and last year of college, I worked in tobacco there and they paid me to work in tobacco in the summertime. And then I did the rest of it after that. One reason I got to work so like that, I was elected President of the student body at ABAC. The way I did that, I guess thats the first time. Well, I was elected President of my class at high school. But I reckon the reason I did that was because I wanted to keep working because that was the only way I could get 00:12:00through, and I tried to figure out the best way I could to get elected President of the student body. Didnt tell anybody. And I came up with the idea that if I would learn everybodys name on that campus, one way or the other, it would help. I could call everybody by one name it may have been a nickname or something whenever I ran for it and I won, and theres no doubt in my mind thats what did it. I was able to recognize those people on the street some. So I, the last year, I spent $6. I worked the tobacco and I got 10 cents an hour. Thats unbelievable, 10 cents an hour. And when the tobacco season got through got up to the point you would pull the tobacco and cure it I came to find out that, see, when we was curing tobacco at home, you had to use 00:13:00logs and a furnace. When I got over there, they had a thermostatic-controlled gas system for the tobacco farm. That was heaven, you know. So I just moved me a cot back there, set the thermostat whatever I wanted, get up every 30 minutes until I just worked it all the way around. I charged 23 hours a day. And the second school year when it started the first week, I got a message from the President he would like to see me in his office. I couldnt imagine what in the world the President wanted to see me about. Thats Mr. President King. He was about 62 or 3, bald-headed as a cue ball. They called him Cue Ball, but not to his face. I walked in and sat down. He said, Thornewell. See, that was the T in George T. Thats Thornewell, and Ive never been called that after I got out of ABAC. I said, Yes, sir? 00:14:00He said, I was just perusing your record for work this summer, and I noticed that you charged 23 hours a day. Would you care to explain that? I said, Yes, sir. And I explained it to him. I said, I wasnt getting but 10 cents an hour and I needed all that I could get and I figured out where I could use that thermostat and I did it for 23 hours a day. I took an hour out to go to lunch and supper. And I was just right out maybe a quarter of a mile where you went to eat. He folded up the paper and he says, Well, that was a novel idea, wasnt it? And shut the paper. But they made a rule right then you couldnt work more than 12 hours a day and get paid for it. (laughter) But 00:15:00thats the way I did it. I got out of that, ABAC, and got in the Navy. When I got in the Navy, I went to I realized that I was going to get in the Army or the Navy or something because they were saying they were going to start conscripting everybody October 15th that year. So I decided I would get in the Navy because my granddaddy had told my daddy about all the times he had to sleep when it was cold and hed wake up in the morning with icicles 12 and 15 inches long up around him where hed slept all night. Clothes would freeze on him in 50 yards after they waded a creek or something during the war. So I got me a place. I said, I may not have it but one night, but at least Ill sleep dry til I get wet for good. (laughter) So I went up there and took the exam at 00:16:00Albany. When I got through, the guy that was giving the exam was a Navy he had a lot of stripes on him; I dont remember what he was and he said, Why didnt you, he said, I see you got a two-year college degree. I said, Yes. He said, Well, why didnt you make application to go to the V7 program? I said, I dont know what the V7 program is. He said, Well, if you get in the Navy and youve got two years college, you can make application for an officer in the Navy. You can get in the V7 program. They send you to the state pier in New York and you get on a ship. You go to sea for a month. And after you get back, if they recommend you, you can go to Northwestern University and get a midship an officers degree in the Navy. I 00:17:00said, Give it to me then. So I got that and went up in Macon and passed it. I went up to Macon and got the final and passed it, and, oh, a funny thing happened now. I tried to get in the Air Force before I did any of the rest of it. I came to Atlanta, stayed up here two days, one of em all day and all night in the bed. I passed everything but the blood pressure. My pressure was around 110 or 15 to about 170 or 80, and here I was 21 years old. And that was unbelievable. So they wouldnt take me. They tried to because, as somebody said, They take anybody in the Army and the Air Corps that day if you could look through one ear and see out the other one, because they were looking for em. That was the best thing that ever happened to me though because, if Id 00:18:00have got on a the airplanes back in that day at that time was just a bunch of - - ramshackle things. So I went to New York. Never been north of Albany but one time. And I got to New York and I was scared to death. You can imagine a farm boy from south Georgia never been any further north than Albany but one time, in New York City. So I got there and I was, you know about getting your tonsils blistered by the sun? I was typical because I fit that. But I got up, got on this ship the old USS Quincy; it was sunk at the Battle of Savo Island. I spent the month on it and they took me into the Navy. I made it. A story needs telling that happened there. When I took the see, I had only two 00:19:00years. I didnt have a single year of advanced math. Our little country school in Hopeful - wasn't but four hundred people there, not a I had good grades in it, had all As in everything I did, but I didnt have anything past half a term of geometry. So I went up there and the crowd I my floor, I was in the 7th Division we called it. And it was tough. Navigation was what was really tough. I memorized navigation. I didnt have a background or basis of arithmetic, math, to really ever grasp it, so I memorized it. So we had our 00:20:00final test and they gave us what they call a days work. You start at 3:00 in the morning and go all the way at 24 hours. Well, I set out on my days work and, by the time I got to noon the next day, I was off the paper. They just gave you the paper it was supposed to fit on. Well, by the time I got through traveling til noon of that day, from 3 to noon, I was off the paper. Well, to make a long story short, I got off the paper every time I returned. I said, Well, nothing like going back to the farm. So I it wasnt quite that much. I was devastated. Got on the I got on the elevator, went down the elevator stuffed with the members of the class, and it was like a tomb. I noticed, I said, My God, this is like a tomb! Everybodys just hang-dog 00:21:00look. So one fellow finally got courage enough to say something and he said, How many of you didnt get past noon? None of us did. They had given us an advanced problem in navigation that they had not taught us about. We all flunked it! And so they just gave everybody 2.5 and let us go. Boy, I tell ya. Nice to have ignorant folks with you sometimes. I went on and got in the Navy and got on the USS Quincy for a month. Got back. Then I was put on a naval submarine supply ship. We supplied the subs. We had a lot of them, but they weren't any good. And I stayed on that from October well, from June when I 00:22:00got out of school to February. Then they transferred me to Norfolk to go to midshipman school, to go to aval I was an officer in charge of a naval gun crew on a supply ship. All of these supply ships, we were taking stuff to Murmansk, and they were sinking off the coast out there just like well, they were just sinking em day and night. So I went there and we went to Battle Creek, Virginia. Went through training there for we had the crowd with me that I was going to use, my group. There were 11 of us 9 of us, 10 with me. 00:23:00And we got on the SS Yaquima[ph]. It was a civilian ship, merchant mariner, but it was run by merchant mariners. The only part that we did, we took care of the guns and we shot the guns and handled the guns if we were attacked. And its too long to go into detail there, but I learned I got well, I learned what labor unions were. Whew! dont get me on that one because I tell you it was anyway. So I made a I was in the first American convoy that went to Murmansk. And we had quite a time. We were shot at, torpedoed at, bombed, and 00:24:00they sunk only one ship going over; but coming back and the reason only one going over is because we got into a fogbank three days out of Murmansk and the fog didnt lift. And the Germans never could get to us because the airplanes, they couldnt find us. Went on into Murmansk. I was bombed three times when they was in Kola River, and they finally sunk my ship. And, but it was in the river so when it settled on the mud flats, they went in there and pumped it out and put it in drydock and prepared it repaired it because we were sunk by a bomb that did not explode. And the reason it didnt explode, I was on an 00:25:00old 1919 liberty ship which had what they call a fidley in it. That was when they used coal nothing but coal and there was a place about that wide all the way from the fore plates in the bottom of the ship out the top right in front of the boilers. And that was for a place to let the heat out from the use of coal. Itd get so hot down there and thats the only way it could come out. And that bomb, as it was coming down like bombs would come down, theyd be straight up and moving like that. That bomb was moving like that and it hit the side of my ship. It never did get to the water; it hit the side of it and it knocked a hole right out you could drive a freight train through and went all 00:26:00the way out the bottom before it exploded. And, well, it hit right where that fidley was and, going sideways like that, it didnt the point didnt hit anything. You had to hit the point of it to set the bomb off. It hit nothing, so it went all the way through and went out the bottom of the ship. Thats when it contacted and when it contacted, it blew up and blew a hole in the bottom of the ship. So we had holes all over the place. And they pumped it out and we came back to America. I was standing so near that door to where the bomb went through the side of the ship, all I had to do was look over the side and there it was. We were bombed a couple of more times before we left. Now we were in drydock three times from bombs. One time we was sunk. And when we finally got back, on the way back, at 9:00 on the 5th of July, 1942, we lost seven ships in 15 minutes. They always told us that wed run into a German 00:27:00wolf pack, and thats what I believed until I got out of the Navy and years later read a book. Wait a minute. We didnt run into a German wolf pack. The stupid pilot had led us into our own minefield.
SMITH: We sunk seven of our own ships. And Ill never forget that one becausethe crowd that I went through midshipmans school I mean armed guard school with, the two officers that I knew, we were in a line of 18 ships, nine on each side, two, two, two. One of my friends was number one, I was number two, and the other was number three. His ship was sunk. I missed the mines. I 00:28:00dont know why, but I did. Mine was not sunk, but the one right behind me was sunk and the one on my left, the bow was blown off. So I was sitting there just providence picked me out to live another day, and I dont ever know what happened to those boys. I got back to America and my ship, by being bombed and drydocked for so long, I missed a lot of the I missed all the convoys that went to places where they were [indiscernible]. The one I really missed was North Africa. Went to North Africa and Sicily and Italy. I didnt make that trip, thank the Lord for that because that crowd, they were they were gone a year and had a terrible time. And I just, there wasnt a real convoy for me to pick up on, but they had an Army transport that was going to go to Hawaii so 00:29:00they put me on the Army transport to Hawaii. And we went all the way down to the Panama Canal, came up to San Diego and then went on out to Hawaii. I stayed on that ship for seven months going inner island. Ive been to every one of the islands of Hawaii and didnt have to pay a thing but seven months of my time. And it was quite a place. We never did have any problems out there. We'd get to talking about it and all like that. I saw what the Japanese did to us because they never had cleaned it up much, just to get in and out. And I stayed there for a while. I spent two years in the Navy, and then I was put on Naval Land 00:30:00Force Equipment Depot in Albany, Alabama Albany, California. And thats where all the equipment that was an invasion for forces in the South went through us. We were the we dispensed it. They ordered it from us and picked it up from us in San Francisco Bay on the Albany side. And I stayed there for two years. When I went there, they took me off the ship that I was on and transferred me to the Port Directors Officer with the directions that and with the directions that whenever the ship Id just got off of was decommissioned from a commercial ship to a Navy ship, that I was go back on it as Gunnery Officer. Two years later, I went back on it. What happened was they 00:31:00lost me. They lost my orders somewhere or another. I had three sets of orders sent to me. They sent them all back, Lost. And I reckon wed have never they would never have found me, but one of the fellows, the ship he had been sent to the same time mine was sent somewhere was sunk. All everybody was lost, so his people were notified that he was unaccounted for, the ship and everything; he was sunk. And he went up there and said, I aint dead. Im very much alive. Well, they found out that all our orders was in the corner of a warehouse over in San Francisco. Well, they soon got the orders to send us to the South Pacific, but before we could get to the South Pacific, they dropped the atom bomb, you know, and it saved us as far as Im concerned because I had 00:32:00orders to the USS Harrison, which was a troop ship and I was supposed to report to some of the islands right there close to Hawaii I mean, Japan. I dont know where it was. But I wouldve been we were supposed to invade them on November 11, 1945, but it never did come around because they surrendered before that was over with. So I came back home and went to the University of Georgia. I was 29 years old. Went to law school. They let me in because they let a lot of them in. There was 125 or 126 in my class. We didnt have enough seats for all of them. If you didnt there early, you sat in the window. And we went through 00:33:00law school like that and went through. We took a full course in law school and eight quarters. Thats when youd go on a quarter. And if youd go straight through eight quarters, youd get a law degree. I had only two hours I mean, two years I had 125 units but wouldnt but 84 of them count toward law school and it took 92. So I was eight short. And the registrar up there at the University, he pulled a lot of strings and he gave me eight points for being on a ship and shooting the [indiscernible] out and gave me trigonometry, I believe it was. I never I had a minor in trigonometry. I 00:34:00mean, I had my minor in mathematics and never did go but four years down at--only one year at Hopeful High School. (laughter) Thats how hard they wanted them. I went through law school there and then went to Cairo, Georgia. Mr. Sam Caine had a sn that was killed, and I went into law practice with him. And I went into practice on January 1, 1948, making $60 a week, and I bought a house and a new car on $60 a week. Id like to see you do that now. Cant go you cant go to a football game for $60, much less. But, anyway, I stayed 00:35:00there and practiced law with Mr. Caine in Cairo in 1948 January 1, 48. But while I was there, I was elected City Attorney, County Attorney, Solicitor of the State Court, represented the EMC and also the School Board attorney. That was a lot of work and mighty poor pay. I got $50 a month for being County Attorney. Can you believe that? And $50 a month to be City Attorney. And when I went there, Mr. Caine took me because he said I wasnt interested in politics and I wasnt. I really wasnt. I just wanted to get out and get me a job and I wanted one in south Georgia. I asked for south Georgia. I said, I want a rural county in south Georgia. They said, Thatll be no problem. 00:36:00Everybody wants to go to Atlanta. One story Im going to tell you, it pays you to do right because you dont know whos looking at you. When I got back and was finished up at law school at the University, I went over to all of us took a day out and went over to Atlanta looking for jobs, so I thought, Well, Im gonna start off with Hartford Insurance Company for a job for an appraisal, automobiles. And I went up to their place and they took me, and I went in and I sat down in the room to be interviewed by the fellow. And the room was about a big square from me to that door there; that was about as a big as the office was in. And you could sit down and it had wood up to just about your eyes; the rest of it was glass. And I sat down and he sat down, and I noticed he 00:37:00kept looking. He kept looking and he didnt do anything, and I was wondering when he was gonna start something. And in a minute he got up and said, Excuse me. And I watched him and he went about as far as from here to that wall over yonder to another cubicle and went in and stood up. He never did sit down. And they talked some little bit and when he came back, he sat down and he said, Well, youve got the job. I said, Got the job? You didnt even interview me. He said, You see that fellow I went to talk to? I said, Yes. He said, He tells me that you were a security officer at the Naval Land Force Equipment Depot. Thats the same as Chief of Police over 3,500 people. And a bunch of wild sailors, that wasnt easy. And he was in the fire Department and he said the Fire Department was under your jurisdiction. I said, Thats right. And he told me that he had worked under me and knew 00:38:00me well and to hire me. You don't know who's looking at you. Now we had switched places. I was his boss over there. He was the Vice President of an insurance company there and he was my boss there. I went to practice law. But it really pays; you dont know whos looking at you, and that old saying about be nice on the way up because you dont know who youll meet coming back down?
SMITH: Thats really a test of it. So we got to we had Cairo, GradyCounty, had a terrible record for representatives getting in politics, and they had a fellow that got in politics and he weighed about 300 pounds, was elected, and he went two terms, four years, as a House Representative. And the people 00:39:00that know politics and all, they kept sending word back to the people in Cairo says, Yall better get you somebody else up here. Said, This man sleeps all the time. He dont know whats going on. Said, Get somebody up here. So they came to see me. This is the closest I ever got to being conscripted to go somewhere. And they came to me and I said, I cant get in politics. They said, Why? I said, I promised Mr. Sam Caine Id stay out. And Im just he gave me a job and Im gonna live up to it. So what they did then, they got a committee of three and went to see Mr. Caine, not I knew nothing about it. And he said, Yeah, okay. He can go. Its all right with me for him to go. So I went to see him before I ever gave them the answer and he said, No, its all right for you to go. It might do you good. So thats how I got in politics. I ran. The editor of the paper ran 00:40:00and then the incumbent ran and I ran. And I got more votes than both of them put together. So, I was in politics. Well, that was 1958. My first term in legislature was 1959. Vandiver had just been elected. And Frank Twitty[ph] was Floor Leader and George L. Smith was the Speaker and Vandiver was the Governor. And I was born and raised in Mitchell County. Frank Twitty had known my folks and we had known him. They voted for him and supported him always. And you're talking about some committee appointments? I got committee appointments that people lived and died in that place and never did get. I was on the Judicial 00:41:00Judicial Committee University of Georgia Committee and the Governors Committee and the State of the Republic Committee, those three. You could stay there a lifetime and never get a one of them. Well, I stayed that way for two years and, at the end of two years, Frank came to me and said, You want to be on the Appropriations Committee? I said, Yeah. So he took me off the University Committee and put me on the Appropriations Committee. Can you imagine being there two years and on the Appropriations Committee?
SMITH: It aint what you know; its who you know, friend. Dont everforget that.
SMITH: And I went over there and they made me Vice Chairman of it and, in oneyear, I was Chairman of the Appropriations Committee for the House of Representative in three years. Thats what a break is. Carl Sanders ran then 00:42:00and, when Carl ran, he started off as Lieutenant Governor and I told him Id help him. And then when he moved over against Marvin Griffin, see, Marvins from Bainbridge and I was from Cairo; theyre 24 miles apart. And I was supporting Carl because he and I were classmates. Well, I thought he could do it too. And people got so mad at me in my county, theyd walk across the street to keep from speaking to me. They just didnt like me because I wouldnt support old Marv. Well, Carl won. Whenever Carl won, everybody got in good humor with me quick. (laughter) I'd sworn I found out how fast people can quit hating you. And, by the way, Marvin didnt beat Carl but 264 votes in my county. I really went to bat for him. 00:43:00
SMITH: But then Carl was elected in 62, and then I had I would leaveCairo Thursday night after work, drive to Atlanta, and work with Carl until Monday night. Id go over and stayed over the weekend and do speeches for him and telephone, and I really worked with him. And so whenever he won, I know the afternoon they finally said that he won it was on Wednesday afternoon we were all sitting around there in the big lobby of the headquarters, and, all at once, I really realized that I had noticed that everybody was gone and I was left alone. About that time, Bill Trotter you remember Bill Trotter? 00:44:00
SHORT: Oh, yeah.
SMITH: Little short fellow?
SMITH: Bowl-legged as a he went with a he was a AAA ball at one time.Good player. He said, The Governor wants to see you. And so I walked in the room where they were and everybody was in there. They had silently gone in there, and Carl said, Sit down, George T. or George. I still wasnt George T. So I sat down and he said, Howd you like to be Speaker? I said, Id like it. (laughter) It didnt take me no two days to figure it out, you know, to I aint worthy! To heck with that kind of crap! (laughter) You dont get anywhere saying, Im not worthy. Im not worthy, but Ill take it. I said, Yeah, I will do. He said, All right. Go get on the telephone. And he had what they had come to, theyd all sat down there and talked it out they said that I was the only man they thought that could become qualified to be Speaker. They didnt think 00:45:00I qualified to be it, but wasnt anybody qualified theyd trust because theyd all supported Marvin Griffin. So thats hw I got to be Speaker. (laughter) And it was a we had a rough time the first year or two. Boy, I tell you what. It was rugged. But we made it. And then I liked it so well, I decided I wanted to be Lieutenant Governor. I didnt want to stay in politics all my life, but I wasnt ready to get out. And so I ran against...
SHORT: Peter Zack Geer.
SMITH: ...Peter Zack Geer. Peter Zack was no, I wont what I said. PeterZack was smart as a whip, a great speaker, lazy as a foxhound in June. And just he never did take it serious. He never did take me serious at all. The first 00:46:00time anybody ever asked him about it was on the street walking, and they asked him, said, What do you think about the Speaker running for Lieutenant Governor against you? He said, Well, I never did go bear hunting with a rabbit gun. And that just made me mad. It just burned me up, you know it? I worked harder. It was easy to get up at 3:00 in the morning, but Zack didnt work any. He didnt work. He just he just figured that he had the Talmadges behind him and the Vandivers behind him and Campbell behind him, and he knew it and he figured it would be all right. I cant remember the challenger, the County Commissioner from Clarke County, but he ran. There was three of us. And I he was an odd man out. That was a man also fixing to 00:47:00tell something Ive never told before except on something like this.
SHORT: Randall Bedgood.
SMITH: Randall Bedgood, youre right. So I when I was Speaker of theHouse, I said, I aint gonna stay here always. I might want to be Lieutenant Governor and I cant beat Peter Zack Geer Lieutenant Governor with a plurality. So the second year I was Speaker of the House, I very quietly got a bill passed that you could not be elected to an office unless you had 50 percent plus one. Well, that paid off. (laughter) Because first when I ran, the three of us, Zack was #1 with 49.2 percent of the votes. I had 44 percent. Well, we had a runoff and, in the runoff, I beat Zack 139,000 votes. Thats the most 00:48:00amazing thing I ever Zack, I mean, Peter Zack just would not he wouldnt he wouldnt work. He just simply wouldnt work. He always was talking ugly about me, but he never would work. One of the biggest mistakes he made was they asked him back then, if you was a Democrat (and the Republicans were making noises), if you was a Democrat, you did, in 1966, you had to sign a pledge to support the nominees, the Democratic nominees. But, you didnt have to swear to it. So he and I, in a speech I gave to the Junior Chamber of Commerce over at DeKalb County one night, and they asked him if he 00:49:00was going to support the nominees. He said, I dont know. They said, Why dont you know? He said, I dont know whos gonna be elected. They said, Well, you signed an agreement, didnt you? He said, Yeah, but I wasnt under oath. And I was next up. He got off and left. He wasnt there to defend himself, and that was a stupid thing to do. Thats always if he was the first one to speak, hed go; he wouldnt stay around. I always stayed around. They talk about you if you left, you know. You wanted you needed to be there to defend yourself. So he left, and I knew they was gonna ask me about that question as sure as I knew my name. And I went to racking my brain on what kind of answer Id give. And, as I was walking up to the platform to answer it to hazard, to say what Id say to that question it came to me, the answer did. So they asked me about that. They said, What do you think about that? I said, Well, ... And they 00:50:00said, Now, the Lieutenant Governor said he wasnt under oath, so... I wasnt there when he made his talk, so they highlighted and said he wasnt under oath. What have you got to say? I said, Ive got only one thing to say. I dont believe the people of the state of Georgia would elect a man Lieutenant Governor thats got to be under oath before you can believe what he says. It killed him. You just I just had all those papers all over the state with little, short editorials just reporting what he said and what I said. It just killed him. He was careless that way. He never planned anything. The first thing up was out. And that, plus another very involved thing complying--dealing with the House and the Senate was the liquor because he lost every newspaper in the state except Albany Herald when he put that boner about 00:51:00the liquor deal. They he had promised them he would not put a bill on the floor without letting them giving them a chance to appear before the committee. He not only put it out of committee, he passed it, and they never did know about it until they read it in the paper. He lost them all because they just he thought he was in so deep.
SHORT: He was a County Unit politician.
SMITH: Thats right. Thats right.
SHORT: Lets talk about that for a minute.
SMITH: All right.
SHORT: Going back to the Sanders-Griffin election...
SHORT: ...where everybody thought Marvin Griffin would win.
SMITH: He would if it hadnt have been for the County Unit System beingthrown out.
SHORT: So they threw out the County Unit System...
SHORT: ...and that just completely changed politics...
SMITH: Thats right.
SHORT: ...in Georgia forever.
SMITH: And forever and Marvin Griffin didnt know what to do with it. Therewasnt nothing he could do with it. Now that was another reason I was so positive in helping Carl Sanders. Dont tell me how I knew this, but I knew this. We knew that the court was going to throw out the County Unit System 00:52:00before the election.
SMITH: But time enough to know that we could run in that direction, so we justCarl just hit the high spots. He worked on the cities...
SMITH: ...and didnt fool with little rural areas much.
SMITH: And thats what happened. It was a plurality I mean, it was amajority vote thing rather than a County Unit System, and Carl won.
SHORT: And he wouldve won either way.
SMITH: Yeah, he would have won either way, as it turned out, but we didntknow that then.
SHORT: Right, true.
SMITH: And its never been but I changed, got it changed way back there...
SMITH: ...so I could win. I didnt know it. I didnt. And I needed it. Idhave lost; Id have lost if it hadnt been for that. Zack, like I said, must have been sick when he lost it by 8/10 of a percent. Well, I got out of the 00:53:00legislature and was elected Lieutenant Governor. I got beat for Lieutenant Governor and I then started practicing law up here. And I was going back to Cairo. I had interest in a bank down there and all that, and my secretary at that time said, I thought you wanted to get on the Appellate Courts. I said, I do. And she said there she sits right over there; shes been working with me 42 years she said, Well, how? She said, You go back down to Cairo. Thats almost out of the state. Said, You get down there and you gonna never get your name in the front where you can get on the Courts. Now if you leave up here, you can just forget about that. Well, I thought about it a little bit and I got I agreed with her. So I went to work with 00:54:00 what was that guys name? Itll come to me in a minute.
SHORT: Here in Marietta?
SMITH: Yeah, in Marietta. He was a very prominent lawyer in Marietta.
SPEAKER: Harold Willingham.
SMITH: Harold Willingham.
SMITH: Harold Willingham. And while I was with Harold Willingham, I also ranfor Governor and lost that. And then I ran for Court of Appeals in 1976. Now Im the only person that has ever been elected to all three positions with opposition. Now theres only two or three other people and I dont know who they were; one of them was Brown and they all served in all three of 00:55:00them in the 1800s. Nobodys ever served since the 1800s in all three of them in any capacity.
SHORT: You were elected to all of them?
SMITH: I was elected with opposition.
SMITH: And I told them I was such a poor politician such a poor politicianI couldnt get anbody to appoint me to anything, but I was elected to all three of them. And so when I served out as-- the Supreme Court, I was on there 11 years and the Court of Appeals four years and four months. And I got out of that and then I started to see if theyd I came back to Cairo came back to Marietta practicing law. And I've enjoyed practicing law up here, and I tried my best; I had two governors tell me a tale. (Ill put it nice.) Two 00:56:00governors told me if Id get the House and the Senate to pass a bill doing away with the cap on the age that judges could serve, theyd sign it, both of them.
SHORT: Didnt sign it.
SMITH: Neither one of them signed it. Never would. Never talked to them. [Gap]
SHORT: If you dont mind, lets go back to 1966 when you were electedLieutenant Governor and Lester Maddox was elected Governor. How did you and Governor Maddox get along?
SMITH: We got along all right because he didnt fool with me and I didntfool with him. But, see, he called me a liar in public on four different times, and I never did lie to Mr. Maddox. He just you just couldnt depend on you couldnt tell him anything. I got to where I would not go in his office 00:57:00without I had a witness because hed deny what he said to you. You couldnt agree with him; he wouldnt make an agreement with you. And when he called, I got tired of being called a liar, so I just never would go in there. [Overlapping conversation]
SHORT: So you didnt have a day-to-day relationship...
SMITH: Oh, no.
SHORT: ...about issues that affected the state?
SMITH: Issues? He didnt know what an issue was. No, we never--no issues.
SMITH: Never were discussed. And thats when I got when I got to beSpeaker of the House, in fact, before I got to be Speaker thats when I got tagged with George T. and George L. George L. was Speaker of the House then under Vandiver...
SMITH: ...but he was Speaker of the House before that too with Talmadge.
SMITH: And Twitty was Frank Twitty was Floor Leader to Talmadge and00:58:00whats his name?
SMITH: Vandiver. And whenever he was the Speaker of the House and I was inthere on committees and all, they got to calling me George and him Good George. And, finally, he told me, he said, Im tired of being called Bad George. They called me George and him Bad George. Thats the way he put it. He said, You're going to get another name. And so they said, Well, well call you George L. and him George T., and thats how we got the names George L. and George T.
SMITH: And we would, sure, wed both get accused sometimes of what the other00:59:00one said. We stuck to our guns. If it was about me, I said, He did it. If it was about him, hed say, He did it. And you know what? We never did anybody that followed up on it. (laughter) That just shows you how much interested folks are in politics, generally speaking.
SMITH: They never did.
SHORT: You know, in some states, they require the lieutenant governor to run ona ticket...
SHORT: ...with the governor. Do you think thats a good idea?
SMITH: Well, for party unity, it is; but I you just about have to, Bob,because you couldnt have everybody running for lieutenant governor. You just have to have a ticket with them.
SHORT: Well, youve been Speaker and youve been Lieutenant Governor. Which01:00:00did you enjoy the most?
SHORT: Why? Why is that?
SMITH: The Speaker had power. The Speaker was the most powerful man in stategovernment next to the Governor and, if you had a weak Governor, he was the most powerful.
SMITH: George L. ran the legislative part of it when I was speaker; and when Iwas Lieutenant Governor, he was Speaker because all the money bills started in the House, you know, as you know. And by the fact that they all started in the House, he ignored the Governor. He ran that House like he wanted to.
SMITH: And I joined with him.
SMITH: Wed do things well, he didnt care, Bob.
SHORT: Are you speaking of the Governor?
SMITH: Yeah, the Governor didnt care. The first day of the legislature, thatI was Speaker of the House the first term, the last day of the session, the 01:01:00Conference Committees were out trying to figure out the Appropriations Bill and the Governor had had a pork barrel with somebody over in Columbus, Georgia, $200,000. He wanted it appropriated for $200,000 so he could do a little politicking. Well, George L. and I discussed it [coughing] excuse me George L. wouldnt agree to it, and I said, Oh, he only wants $200,000. He said, I aint gonna agree to it. He would not agree to it. At 5:00 on Friday afternoon, everybodys sitting around waiting for the Conference Committee and thats all they were stuck on. I told my board, I said, Dont. We promised together and weve got to stay with it. By 5:00, I saw that George L. was heck bent; he wasnt gonna move. So and I wasnt 01:02:00gonna move unless the Governor released me, because Id promised him Id do it and I was gonna do it. I went down to his office and I told him, I said, Id like to see Governor Maddox. He says, He aint here. I said, Not here? I said, Doesnt he know this is the last day of the session and the Appropriations Committee is still out? Where is he? Oh, he said, hes down in Macon, Georgia riding his bicycle backwards for the entertainment of the school children down there.
SMITH: Shoo, I walked back up and I didnt even knock. I opened the door. Isaid, You know that $200,000 yall are tied up on? They said, Yes. I said, Throw it out the door, pass that Appropriations Bill, and lets go home. They did it. He never mentioned it. Never mentioned it. He didnt know. He forgot about it.
SHORT: Hmm-hmm-hmm. So in 1976, you ran for the Court of Appeals.01:03:00
SMITH: Yeah. And that was a little deal made there. The Court of Appeals wasCharlie Pannell. He was on the Court of Appeals.
SMITH: And he wanted to run; he was gonna quit. He tried to get the thenpresent governor to appoint Charlie, Jr., as a State Court judge in Seminole or something up there, and the governor wouldnt do it.
SHORT: That was Busbee.
SMITH: Right. He wouldnt do it. Well, Charlie and I were very close becausewe both worked in Carls headquarters. We got to know each other real well. So he came to me and said, I tried to get Busbee to appoint my boy, and he wont do it. He said, Its just a little old state state court. And he said, You want to be Court of Appeals? I said, I dang sure 01:04:00do. He said, All right. Stand ready. I aint gonna tell them Im not gonna run for the Court of Appeals until Wednesday before deadline on Monday for doing it. So he called me and says, Im gonna do it this morning this afternoon. And so the next morning, I already had it arranged. I had my people lined up and all, and I announced for Court of Appeals. And nobody that could beat me would run because several of them tried it and Charlie helped me a little bit. He said, Now you remember he ran two years ago for Governor. He said, Hes got an organization out there. And said, The time you get yours put together, hed be elected because you cant do it. And that did keep anybody from, well, being a real threat because of that, so I was 01:05:00elected to the Court of Appeals. And I wasnt satisfied with the Court of Appeals. I always wanted to be on the Supreme Court, and I wouldnt I knew Busbee wouldn't appoint me but I wanted to clear it to keep him from saying, Well, if hed asked, so I went and asked him. His answer was a slick political answer, a smile behind the hat. He said, I never make those decisions til I find out the openings there. I thought, I said, George, dont tell me that. Ive been around here and you know that better than that.
SMITH: And I announced for it. Ill say this. He didnt get involved in it.
SHORT: Uh-huh. We elect our judges the people elect our judges; some areappointed. Do you think tat politics and judges races mix?
SMITH: Oh, yeah. Dont let anybody kid you. See, Charlie Pannell elected me01:06:00because he just didnt resign until it was too late for anybody else to do anything.
SMITH: No, there was no money nobody trying to buy anybody like a famouscase going on now but it was just politics. Friends. Good ol boys.
SHORT: Well, you served on the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
SHORT: Which one did you like the best?
SMITH: I liked the Supreme Court better than any elected position Ive everhad, Speaker of the House or anything else.
SHORT: Tell us about being a Supreme Court Justice.
SMITH: Well, theres a lot of responsibility there really because thatsthe last, and you need to take that seriously because thats the last thats the last place that a mans got a chance to get any help, so you ought to be real careful about that. I wrote a lot of dissents a lot of 01:07:00dissents. I just thought that before any man had the final judgment passed on him, the evidence ought to be unassailed against him. And there was one thing there were two things that I did when I got on the Court of Appeals before I ever got on the Supreme Court. When I got on the Court of Appeals, all opinions were written like this. Take in the evidence. Whenever they affirmed if a man lost a case, they had to affirm it. Thatd be civil or criminal. Theyd always say, Taking the evidence as being in favor of the words 01:08:00to this in favor of the state as found by the lower court, we find thus, and then went on and approved the lower court. I didnt start my opinions that way. I didnt think it ought to be that way. I just started off from scratch. I thought, by golly, that just because the lower court found the man guilty, that ought not to cause you to run it that way. Why do you have Appellate Court?
SMITH: And I didnt write them that way.
SMITH: And I always theres another thing I did that nobody else did. Thefirst paragraph, Id say what the case was about and all like that, and then 01:09:00when I finished that paragraph, Id add a new paragraph of one sentence that Id either affirm or deny the other court and then write my opinion. My reason for that, I thought that being having been a trial lawyer and on the Court of Appeals for the first time, what the trial lawyer taught me most, I thought I ought to let the judge know in the first paragraph, after I put out the facts, what I had done. So then he could read the whole brief from the court below knowing why I had how I had held the case. Otherwise, if you 01:10:00didnt do that, he had to read the whole case before you could find at the end what it was all about. And that, you see some judges doing that; not many. They quit both of those things. Ill tell you another thing that we tried, that we changed in the Supreme Court. The first day I was on the Supreme Court the first day they assigned my cases. And there was a case dealing with the county commissioners, and I want to say it was from Augusta, but Im not sure. And I caught it and I wrote an opinion and reversed it, and the other guys of 01:11:00the court went 6 to 1 against me. Then I said, Alright now, Mr. Chief Justice, who are you going to assign this case to? He says, To you. I said, What do you mean, to me? I said, Ive just found against them and you all are for it. He said, Thats the rule of this Court. The man that has the case, if he writes an opinion reversing it and the rest of the Court goes against him, then he has to write the opinion affirming it. I said, How do you write upstream? I said, I cant write it. he said, Well, thats the rule. I said, All right. We had a Rule 36 and a Rule 59, and the Rule 59 of the Supreme Court was and I got that rule changed too; thats the way I I was the one that got that rule in if the evidence and the judges charge there was no error in that, we would affirm 01:12:00the trial court without an opinion. So I just took that case and I said, The trial court, blah-blah-blah, like that, affirmed this opinion by Rule 59. And then I wrote one of the dog-gonedest decisions youve ever seen in your life. Thats the last time that ever happened. They changed that rule immediately. It didnt make no sense, Bob! How you gonna write a for it and against it all in the same time?
SMITH: It didnt make no sense.
SHORT: Let me ask you this question about evidence: DNA.
SMITH: That had not come about when I was it was just coming into Inever had to deal with an opinion with that. That shows you how it just 01:13:00wasnt there.
SMITH: And I havent gone to the trouble to try to learn about it in privatepractice because I dont do that much criminal work.
SHORT: Uh-huh. It seems, Judge Smith, that modern juries seem to prefer asentence of life without parole over the death penalty.
SHORT: Do you think that that will do away with the death penalty?
SMITH: No. Oh, if they keep doing that, oh, sooner or later, theyre gonna quit.
SHORT: Uh-huh. The Supreme Court handles quite a few death penalty cases.
SHORT: Uh-huh. Another question, modern jurisprudence: What effect has theinternet had on appellate courts? Now you can file over the computer and without oral arguments. Is that a good idea?
SMITH: Not for me. I like for a lawyer, stand him there and argue the case, and01:14:00let me look at him and have the opportunity to ask him questions. Sometimes you change your mind; not often, but sometimes you do. I had a little trick. Sometimes lawyers you didnt believe that theyd read the case good or something like that, and I had a trick Id pull on them. Id pick out some little obscure point in his case that nobody with good sense would ask about and Id ask him about it.
SMITH: And I did that for one thing. I wanted to make him shoot straight withme the whole case because he I know what was running through his brain. That stupid jerk knew about that little old unimportant thing, he has read this thing.
SMITH: It worked. It worked every time.
SHORT: Well, you decided many cases as an Appellate Court Judge with the Court01:15:00of Appeals and the Supreme Court. Are there any that stand out in your memory?
SMITH: Oh, yeah, several of them. I the Williams case. Remember theWilliams case?
SHORT: The child [overlapping conversation]...
SMITH: Yeah. I dissented in that case, and there was a lot of furor. I wascalled a lot of names. And I told them, I said, What yall dont understand is Im not saying hes innocent or guilty. Im just saying there was not evidence enough the preponderance of the evidence to point to him being, I mean, evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to point to him as being guilty. I just think that the evidence didnt support the verdict.
SHORT: That was the Atlanta child murder case...
SMITH: Thats right.01:16:00
SHORT: ...decided basically on fiber evidence?
SMITH: Thats right. And the thing they called it child murders. The twopeople they tried him for were both grown men; wasnt no child or no children involved. It was grown men.
SMITH: And I wont go into this, but I think I know how they got theevidence, the fiber evidence. See, the fiber evidence never had been proven beyond a scientific to a scientific verification in the state at that time, and that certainly was no case to determine on whether or not there was a scientific verification from the fiber evidence.
SHORT: Well, there was a feeling among some that that case was hustled to aconclusion; that they wanted to stop it, so they, you know, the guy was 01:17:00convicted. I dont know whether that holds any water or not, but there was a feeling among some people at that time that that fiber evidence was a weak...
SMITH: Weak tool.
SHORT: Any other cases you remember?
SMITH: Well, I dont know why this one sticks in my brain, but it does. WhenI was on the Supreme Court, the law in Georgia the case law in eorgia; well, the law in Georgia said that a married man could not rape his wife. And one of those came up, came to our court, and I caught it. I did a lot of background work and I wrote an opinion that said not only can a man rape his 01:18:00wife, this one raped this one. See, theyd separated and so...
SMITH: ...he came back. And then I went into some detail, the background of howwomen how that ever became law where a wife couldnt be raped by her husband. And it came from the old rule, an old law like that that women when they married, they were chattels. They were treated as property by their husband and the offspring from that was that the husband that they were treated like cattle or chattel itd be just like he owned a cow or horse or something and he took the position that he could do whatever he wanted to, from beating her on up or down because she was just a chattel. She wasnt a person. She 01:19:00just was his property totally and he could do as he pleased. I got a lot of comment on that one. Most of it wasnt favorable.
SMITH: But, I mean, I got comments on that from men that wouldnt dare touchtheir wives and I knew it, but they couldnt didnt like the idea of the way it went through.
SHORT: Well, youve certainly had an outstanding career. If you had all thoseyears to go over again, is there anything you might have done differently?
SMITH: Yeah. Id have run for Governor in 1966.
SHORT: I meant to ask you that question. Why didnt you decide to run forGovernor in 1966?
SMITH: Well, my supporters had already agreed to that, and Mills Lane was mybig supporter and he had already given a 100 percent assurance of supporting me 01:20:00as Lieutenant Governor. But whenever Vandiver you remember Vandiver got out?
SHORT: Uh-huh. And Talmadge almost got in.
SMITH: Yeah, almost. But what held me up, Mills Lane was on an extendedEuropean trip. I wasnt about to call him in Europe to ask him to switch his allegiance to me for Governor without being able to talk to him. I knew him too well for that. And I was not going to switch from a sure support to a didnt know whether I was gonna get support or not.
SMITH: And I just told them flat out. They I was called about it. I said,No. And I said, Dont go telling it that Im thinking about it 01:21:00because Im not, because thats all you have to do is say a person was thinking about it and theyve got you running and half a dozen other people are now for lieutenant governor and youre out in the woods.
SMITH: And I just wouldnt do it on that very reason.
SHORT: Looking back, what do you think was your greatest accomplishment?
SMITH: Holding all three of those positions. Thats just about impossible todo. Youre talking about having to be in the right place at the right time a lot of times; you had to be.
SHORT: How about your biggest disappointment?
SMITH: Not ever being Supreme Court Justice I mean, Chief Justice of theSupreme Court.
SHORT: Time ran out?
SMITH: Thats right. I got old. I reached 75 years old before I could make it.
SHORT: Uh-huh. How would you like to be remembered?01:22:00
SMITH: As an honest, hard-working, truthful politician.
SHORT: Well, youre that.
SMITH: I hope so.
SHORT: And I want to thank you for Young Harris College and the Richard RussellLibrary at the University of Georgia and myself for being our guest.
SMITH: Thank you. Appreciate being asked.
* * * * *
SMITH: In 1966, when I was running for Lieutenant Governor, the last Saturdaybefore the election the following Tuesday, Bainbridge, Georgia, which is right next to Mitchell County where I was born and raised and right next to Grady County where I practiced law, had a shindig and they invited everybody down, all the candidates, to speak on Saturday. You know, they held them back in there. Television got rid of all that now. 01:23:00
SMITH: So I knew what they was aiming at. Marvin was supporting Zack. Zack wasborn and raised in Colquitt, 24 miles up the road, and his wife was born and raised in Bainbridge. And it was plain as the nose on your face what they was gonna do. So Friday afternoon, I found out I was told about it and they said, Were gonna have one person to introduce all of you. Said, You and Zack down here are so close, itd be hard and fair and all that kind of stuff. And I told them, [indiscernible] Eloise, I said, Thats a crock. Theyre gonna wind up selecting somebody to introduce them, which will be Marvin Griffin, and theyre gonna start at the bottom end of the alphabet for the first one to speak, not the top like usual. I said, This is a setup. now dont give me any... It worked out just exactly like I at 5:00, 01:24:005:00 Friday afternoon, got a call. Well, theyve changed the rules on you. I said, Im supposed to speak first, right? They said, Thats right. I said, That aint no surprise to me. Ive been knowing they was gonna do that all the time. Got down there the next morning and they had a big old long flatbed trailer that everybody got on where we was gonna speak. We got up there. Peter Zacks wife was sitting on the platform right behind him. They put Eloise at the other end of the trailer the last person at the other end in the second row. You couldnt even tell she was back there. Shes small, you know, anyway; you couldnt even tell she was back there. If she was to hiccup, shed have fallen off. And we were up front. Maddox had his few little words to say and sat down. Only reason they was few, you had a limit. (laughter) Then the next one was me, three minutes. Well, I 01:25:00had I had racked my brain, What in the world am I gonna say? What am I gonna say? I dont want to make it sound no use in jumping on. I couldnt match either one of them oratorically speaking. I knew better. Each one of them was better on the stump than I was, so dont challenge that. You just got to do something else. Next morning, Saturday morning, we was gonna fly down. I was shaving. I came out of the bathroom and I said, Eloise, I made up my mind. She said, What you gonna do? I said, Im gonna brag on Marvin Griffin for the whole three minutes and never mention Zack Geer. They called me up there and got me up there, and Zack and Peter Zack was sitting down there. I mean, Zack and Marvin was sitting down there. And Marvin had a piece of paper in his hand, and I couldnt imagine that. I didnt think anything 01:26:00about it when I saw it, but, looking back on it, that was unreal for him. He didnt use anything to introduce anybody, particularly in a situation like that. They put me up there and the only time I mentioned Zacks name was when I recognized him, and I spent three minutes. I tell you what I did the greatest job of lathering a man thats ever been on the former Governor: How great he was for our community. How he had-- Im just 24 miles away, you see. How much we appreciated him being that close to Cairo. How much hed done for us. And how much hed done for that part of the country. And what a great Governor he was. I got six interferences clapping, and I noticed he looked at Zack about halfway through that thing and held that paper like that. It turned out he had 01:27:00written his introduction of Zack down and had released to the news media! Now that was an insult to me. Now he just took that he didnt have anything in his hands to worry about, so to heck with it. But you could tell that he was bothered. Whenever Id finished and just feel so full of syrup til you never could get it out of him. He didnt have anything to say about me, but he did. He used it he had to use it he turned me every way but loose. He called me what was his favorite expression for McGill?
SHORT: Rastus. Ralph McGill?
SMITH: Yeah. He said I was he called he referred to me all the waythrough as Rastus McGills something-or-other. It wasnt very nice. And he 01:28:00just ate me up. He didnt get a single, solitary interruption with applause the whole time. I got six. He didnt get a one. And you could tell the crowd was getting a little restless because ere was a local boy bragged on him and he was trying to take advantage of him, and you could see it was just it was coming out. Well, some people left before he finished. Then Zack got up there and not only did Zack eat me up alive, he used five minutes to do it. By the time he got through, wasnt anybody left except my folks. Not a single interruption did he get. Not a one. The only time in my life I ever outsmarted two smart politicians, but that just absolutely I left them, by them putting me first. 01:29:00
SMITH: Of course, Zack treated me the whole way through like I was an accident.So that was a, you know, thats a good way to have somebody run against you that thinks youre a damn fool because you can they dont ever expect anything out of you.
SHORT: Well, you sure turned that election around in a hurry in that runoff.
SMITH: Yeah, sure did.
SHORT: You were Speaker of the House, Judge Smith, during the period whenJulian Bond was denied his seat.
SHORT: Do you remember that?
SMITH: Yeah, it was 1965. I remember where I was when I got the call. I wasspeaking to an FFA group down at Sylvester, Georgia, got a telephone call from my secretary. Yvonne Redding was my secretary at that that was number one. Deenie, I dont know whether shes two or three or four, but anyway she was 01:30:00in the office also. I got a call in Sylvester and Yvonne said, I think youd better come to Atlanta. I said, Whats important for me? Cant the Governor take care of it? She said, Yes, but I think you need to be here to answer some questions too because theyre gonna be talking to you. I said, Well, what happened? She said, Well, Julian Bond burned his registration card and the (for want of a better word) segregationist group is really up in arms up here. Said, Theyre preparing a complaint to not seat him. And, see, this was before it started. And I said, Whos 01:31:00leading it? And I was not surprised. What was the representative from Statesboros name?
SHORT: Jones Lane.
SMITH: Jones Lane. Golly, Jones Lane; thats right. And said, DenmarkGruber is coaching him on his legal part. I said, Oh, God, Denmark. Denmark Gruber was smart, a smart legislator. He was really smart and hed been Speaker of the House had been the Floor Leader in the House so he knew what he was doing. And here I was Speaker the first time and Im thrown in a ring with him. So I went back up there and she said that he had burned it 01:32:00and then a big hullabaloo and they was against it and wanting to know what I was gonna do. And I said, Well, Im gonna preside over it if it comes around to that. So they the Senate passed it and refused to seat him, voted on the bill that would refuse to seat him. So whenever they voted to not seat him, I treated it like a bill. I referred it to the Judiciary Committee for yall to decide. Youre gonna be the jury. The Judiciary Committee is going to decide whether or not the evidence put up here for the House by the two parties in the argument and all like that, whether or not its sufficient enough to 01:33:00sustain what they say. Now, see, whenever they asked for everybody to stand to take the oath, the challenge had already been thrown out for Julian, and I hadnt been sworn in as Lieutenant Governor. I hadnt even been sworn into the House. So I they voted on me to be in the legislature and Julian Bond all at the same time, and Julian was in a seat that was right behind mine. And they told him to have a seat because hed been challenged. And Ive got a picture of me standing up taking the oath and Julian sitting down in there right behind me. And so they did that and then they gave me the oath, and then I took over from there on out.
SHORT: As Speaker?01:34:00
SMITH: As Speaker, and I tried the case like a judge just like a judge. Andwe had a fellow named Brown, Ben Brown. Do you remember Ben Brown?
SHORT: Ben Brown, yeah.
SMITH: He was my very close friend and he kept me I took him into myconfidence. I said, Ben, Ive gotta have some help. I said, Ive got to know whats fixing to take place to keep this thing on an even keel. So we talked at length and we agreed he agreed with me and some things he suggested. His first suggestion was, he says, Do not have any uniformed policemen in sight. He said, The people that are opposing whats taking place here and supporting Julian, said, you wont have any trouble out 01:35:00of em if theres no policemen around because there wont be anybody they can jump on; theyll get notoriety nationwide because theyll pick out a policeman to get in trouble. He said, If theres no policemen, nothingll take place. I said, That makes sense to me. So I put I had patrolmen there, but I brought them in before daylight, put them in the bottom of the Capitol. Nobody knew they were there except the Governor and me. And one or two other people had to know about it and Brown knew about it. I said, All right, Ive already got that solved. Im gonna put them in the basement. He said, Thatll save you more problems than you know. He said, Now what you're gonna do about the balcony? I said, Well, you 01:36:00know, weve already opened up the balcony and theres no you dont have to youre not seated in any particular place in the balcony; anybody can sit anywhere they want to. Everybody knows that. Its been announced. He said, Well, let me make one other suggestion. I said, Whats that? He said, Dont have anybody at the door up there passing out passes. Dont make them have to sign in for a pass. He said, If youll do that, youll take the sting and the whole youll just destroy their whole plan. I said, All right, thats done. Well, I didnt tell him that I was gonna have GBI men all through the place in regular clothes. I had about six or seven of them and one or two hanging around close. And so I told 01:37:00that we just took all of the doorkeepers off upstairs that allowed people to go in. Just opened the doors and nobody was there. So whenever that crowd got there, Brown told me, he says, Theyre on the way. I said, All right. Were ready for em. Everybody scattered. When they walked in there, they all came in a big van like, drove up right in here.
SHORT: These are Bond supporters?
SMITH: The Bond supporters, yeah. And they were out-of-town most of them. Andthey come marching through there and right upstairs and, when they got to the door, the doors wide open, aint nobody there, and they started milling around like a bunch of cattle trying to cross a firewall a fire line. They didnt know what to do.
SMITH: They didnt know what to do. So we had the hearing and they came inand sat down. No policemen to attack. And we just went through everything just 01:38:00like it was a Sunday school picnic. Got through and put em in the and then the crew went out. We were all day trying that thing. I was, I remember some prominent lawyer downtown called me up later and told me that he wanted to congratulate me on how well I handled that thing. Well, any time that nothing happens, its handled well, you know, whether it was handled well or not. I think if I hadnt have had Brown, I might have done what I did but I dont know. That guy is hes a never did get much, any credit because you couldnt give it to him. He didnt want no credit. He said, Dont tell folks what I told. He said, Good Lord, theyll be hanging me. So they didnt. And they came back, the committee, and the committee voted I 01:39:00dont I remember it was five voted to seat him, most of them DeKalb County. And five of them; Im sure it was five to seat. So when he came back and they read it, I read that out and I said, you know, Just dont show back up under, and he told me he was gonna appeal it. And Bond came to me after it was over with and said, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you something. I dont think anybody could have been any fairer than you were. Said, I have no complaints about the way youve handled that thing and I have no animosity towards you at all. And he told me more times than that down the lin. And, boy, that was a rough time. There was a lot of tension. 01:40:00
SMITH: Its just it was just a wrong word away from a riot.
SMITH: But wed already set one thing up. Whenever Carl and I got togetherbefore the session started and we decided that we were gonna issue a statement to the press not hold any press conference, nothing about it that the balconies to the House and the Senate (we cleared it with Zack, he said all right) that the balconies on the House and the Senate were open to all people. You did not have to get any permission; all people, it was open to them. Now that, that was the first one. That didnt make like that didnt make it look like we were being forced into it because if wed have waited until we 01:41:00heard the--itd look like and we had a lot of folks mad at us.
SMITH: Folks never did know it, but the first day of the legislature one blackman showed up. Thats the only black person that showed up the first day, and he came five days in a row, sat in five different places in the balcony. I dont know what happened over at the Senate, but he was testing to see whether or not we meant it. We meant it. It was a it wasnt so oh, by the way, I worked with Senator Leroy Johnson, and he was helping us. Leroy Johnson was an African-American in the right place at the right time because he had the right kind of temperament. He could work with white people and he didnt mind it. He 01:42:00had that confidence. And this state owes a lot to him, him and Ben Brown. Ill tell you that. Usually, a man whos in a place of leadership, he gets credit for everything hes doing. Credit for everything thats bad. Without Ben Brown and Johnson, we couldnt have pulled that thing off. Thats the wrong word. That thing wouldnt have gone off as smoothly as it did...
SMITH: ...because they we knew what was going to happen and we knew how toand by knowing what was going to happen, we could use preventive measures that didnt make it look like the folks that were supporting Bond made us do it.
SMITH: Because they never did get to raise a ruckus so they could get a01:43:00policeman there...
SMITH: ...because there were no policemen there. So they never could tell theworld what bad people we were.