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Interview with Jack Etheridge, June 30, 2010

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:18 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: I'm Bob Short, and this is Reflections on Georgia Politics, sponsored by the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer Bob Short introduces interviewee Jack Etheridge.

00:00:44 - Early life / Interest in politics

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Partial Transcript: are what is becoming a rarity in these parts, and that's a native Atlantan.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge recalls his upbringing in Atlanta and credits his father with sparking an interest in politics.

Keywords: Albany, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Cancer; Charlotte, North Carolina; Darlington School; Davidson College; Emory Law School; Emory University; Empathy; Eugene Talmadge; Herman Talmadge; Lenox Square; Military service; Peachtree Road; R.L. Hope Grammar School; Rhetoric; Rome, Georgia; Stump speech

00:03:32 - First political race

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Partial Transcript: So you ran for the state House of Representatives.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge speaks about his decision to run for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives at the urging of Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr..

Keywords: Attorney; Campaign finance; Fundraising; Georgia legislature; Hoke Smith Jr.; Ivan Allen Jr.; Law practice; Mentor; Muggsy Smith; Political campaign; William Hartsfield

00:07:04 - Resolution to consolidate Georgia's counties

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Partial Transcript: So you go to the State House; what were your goals?

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge discusses an unpopular resolution he proposed as a young senator to consolidate Georgia's numerous counties.

Keywords: Constitutional review; County consolidation; County seat; County unit system; Echols County, Georgia; Local government; Margaret Mitchell; One man, one vote; Pension; Reapportionment; Reelection; Rural Georgia; Status quo; Steve Mitchell; Unconstitutional; Urban Georgia

00:12:19 - Transition to New South / Integration of the House

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to 1962, the year you first ran, there was a historic governor's race between the old and the new.

Keywords: African-American; Atlanta Police Department; Black neighborhood; Carl Sanders; Civil War; Conservative; Ellis Arnall; Federal occupation; Highway Department; Integration; Liberal; Marvin Griffin; New South; Old South; Paved roads; Segregation; Speaker of the House; Taxes; Transportation

00:18:15 - Julian Bond / Racial strife in the House

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Partial Transcript: Who were some of the first black members of the Georgia House of Representatives?

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge recalls some of the first African-American state senators to serve in Georgia, and describes a controversy which resulted in the delayed swearing-in of senator Julian Bond.

Keywords: Appellate court; Capital City Club; Capitol building; Charlie Brown; Draft card; Elected office; Federal district court; Grace Hamilton; Julian Bond; Legislator; Martin Luther King Jr.; Nonviolent protest; Oath; Patriotism; Southern Christian Leadership Conference; Special judiciary committee; Unpatriotic; Vietnam War; WGST

00:26:17 - Legislative efforts

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Partial Transcript: What is some of the legislation you worked on there while you were in the House?

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge speaks about some of the bills he proposed while in the senate, including some that proved more controversial than he would have imagined.

00:33:48 - Fight over Georgia's liquor laws

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk about some legislation that really affected the city of Atlanta and, and some of the urban areas of the state in that transitional period.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge discusses the protracted struggle to pass legislation allowing Atlanta's hotels to serve mixed drinks, clearing the way for attracting conventions to the city.

Keywords: Alcohol sales; Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Birmingham, Alabama; Blue laws; Bob Cohn; Carl Sanders; Cocktails; Convention center; Convention hotel; Criminal court; Druid Hills Baptist Church; Hospitality industry; Hotels; Howard Tamplin; Jeannette Hirsch; John Barleycorn; Local application; Madison, Georgia; Marriott Hotel; Prayer meetings; Preacher; Solicitor general; Tom Watson; Wine

00:41:22 - Passing legislation leading to MARTA

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Partial Transcript: The, uh, the idea of MARTA was alive when you were in the legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge describes some of the resistance to the implementation of a rapid transit system in Atlanta and surrounding suburbs.

Keywords: Clayton County, Georgia; Consolidation of government; DeKalb County, Georgia; James Mackay; New York Port Authority; Police force; Public transit; Public transportation; Rapid transit; Referendum; Right-wing; San Francisco, California; Toronto, Canada; Transportation authority

00:45:23 - Transition to career as a judge

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Partial Transcript: And then you left the legislature.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge describes retiring from the state senate to run for a position as a judge on the Georgia Superior Court, and opines that judges would ideally be appointed rather than elected.

Keywords: Appellate judge; Atlanta Bar Association; Georgia State Superior Court; Lower court; Non-partisan; Opposing views; Political process; Probate; Probation; Statutes; The bench; Trial judge; Verlin Moore

00:51:49 - Georgia's judicial system

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Partial Transcript: Let's talk for a minute about the Georgia judicial system.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge describes what he sees as some inefficiencies in Georgia's judicial system, especially in criminal courts.

00:54:57 - Notable trials during judicial career

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Partial Transcript: Do you recall any major trials over which you presided?

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge describes some of the notable cases he heard while on the bench, specifically the high-profile Aneewakee case which alleged crimes against troubled children at a reform camp.

Keywords: Anneewakee Treatment Center; Carnegie Library; Damages; Doctors; Douglasville, Georgia; Drug abuse; Eminent domain; Insurance; Jury; Juvenile offenders; Louis Petter; Misconduct; Physicians; Plaintiffs; Preliminary motions; Probation officer; Real estate value; Sexual abuse; Small business; Televised trial; Verdict; Wayward children

01:01:14 - Leaving the bench / Teaching law

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Partial Transcript: After--what, eleven years?--you left the bench.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge indicates that he resigned from his judicial position due to the emotional conflict he left presiding over bitter divorce suits and issuing mandatory criminal sentencing, and describes his transition to the teaching of law.

Keywords: Academia; Associate dean; Criminal justice school; Department of Corrections; Deputy sheriff; Domestic relations; Education; Ellis MacDougall; Emory University; Harvard University; National Conference of State Trial Judges; Prior offenses; Prison; Settlements; Teaching; University of South Carolina

01:05:09 - Work in legal mediation

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Partial Transcript: I, uh, I left because I wanted to go into mediation full-time.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge discusses his work as a mediator and suggests mediation has become a valuable part of the judicial system.

Keywords: Arbitration; Attorney General; Business relationships; Contract; Expert witness; Impartiality; JAMS; Jimmy Carter; Judicial Administration and Mediation Services; Malpractice; Mediators; Negotiation; Neighborhood Justice Center

01:11:30 - Notable mediation cases

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Partial Transcript: One of the first cases we had was, uh, mediated by a young and very capable woman, who graduated, I think, from Smith College or Wellesley, or somewhere like that...

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge describes two notable mediation cases he oversaw, the first involving fueding families who shared a duplex, the second involving a steel mill's byproducts causing illness in children in an African-American community.

Keywords: Chemicals; Class-action; Courthouse; Duplex; Farmers; Fertilizer; Fraud; Illness; Macon, Georgia; Medical clinic; Peace warrant; Pollution; Restitution; Shotgun house; Soot; Steel mills

01:19:39 - Mediating the Georgia lottery law

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Partial Transcript: You mediated a very famous case that involved the beginning of the Georgia lottery.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge recalls presiding over mediation concerning Miller's proposed educational lottery.

Keywords: Appropriation; Court reporter; Educational lottery; HOPE Scholarship; Judicial authority; Zell Miller

01:21:44 - Career summary

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Partial Transcript: Well, you've certainly had a wonderful career.

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge recalls his life and career fondly, stating that while he hasn't been perfect, he has no real personal or professional regrets, other than not seeing combat while in the military.

Keywords: Combat; Europe; Family; Hamburg, Germany; Heritage; Integrity; Kindness; Korean War; Soldier; South Africa; Teaching; Travel; World War II

01:25:53 - Work as a resettlement officer after World War II

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Partial Transcript: I'm sure, Jack, that you have, uh, many more memories; can you think of any you'd like to share with us before we end our conversation?

Segment Synopsis: Etheridge speaks about his experience working with Eastern European refugees as extremely formative to his life.

Keywords: Adversity; Australia; Canada; Communism; Communist; Displaced persons camps; Eastern Europe; Latvia; Lithuania; Nazis

01:28:19 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, Jack, on behalf of the Richard Russell Library at the University of Georgia and Young Harris College, I'd like to thank you for being our guest.

Segment Synopsis: Short and Etheridge conclude the interview.