Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On Bristol's Judge Flannagan

Yesterday was the portrait hanging in the Bristol Circuit Court for Judge Charles B. Flannagan. The speakers included Judges Smith, Lowe, and Kirksey, among others, and every word they said was true, or close enough.

When it came time for him to speak, Judge Flannagan took the opportunity to point out the other six portraits in the courtroom. Three of those judges have articles on Wikipedia: William Rhea, Joseph Kelly, and Floyd Roberts. Each of the three went on to "higher" office - Rhea was a controversial selection to the State Corporation Commission, Kelly was twice named to the Virginia Supreme Court, and Roberts was briefly a judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia, a recess appointee denied confirmation by the Senate. The other three are Judges Cantwell, Davis, and Bell, who were before my time but well-known to Judge Flannagan. Judge Bell was a college classmate of Judge Flannagan and was in the courtroom yesterday.

On the way out, I caught up with Judge Kirksey and we told each other a story, standing in the street. My story was about how I asked the judge for a letter in support of my application to join the bar in Tennessee, and told him that I realized in making this request that he might tell the Tennessee authorities all that he knew about me. Sometime later, he sent me a copy of what he wrote to Tennessee, with a cover letter to me that he hoped I did not find his reference letter to be "too honest." Judge Kirksey told me that when he put in for the judgeship, Judge Flannagan had disclosed that he had once been cited for fishing without a license (on a church trip), and the committee picked up on this, as in he must be a pretty good guy if that's the only thing he ever did wrong. Judge Flannagan is that good and you can't be too honest telling stories about him.