Give me a Break, We’re Both Lawyers

Nathan Deal and Roy Barnes are both lawyers, one just has been in Congress for the past few decades. Although I am not surprised by the Georgia GOP’s new line of attack – Roy Barnes’ law firm has made appearances 37 times before Judges he appointed and in some cases obtained favorable verdicts for Barnes’ clients.

The Augusta Chronicle has the full story, but here are the pertinent facts and quotes. The Barnes Firm appeared before some Judges that the former Governor appointed, some of those Judges had donated money to Roy. One particular case yielded a 459 million dollar verdict.

“Roy Barnes made millions suing businesses and destroying jobs, and he used his handpicked judges to do it,” McLagan said.

“It’s like Bonnie getting Clyde a job as a bank teller prior to the inevitable robbery – and Georgians paid the price.”

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Barnes used campaign staffers such as Carpenter and Runge to lie about his role in the cases.

“Roy Barnes is the Mark McGwire of Georgia’s legal system. He rigged the system and then lied about it,” Robinson said. “McGwire wanted to get in the Hall of Fame. Barnes wants to get in the governor’s mansion.”

But Lester Tate, president of the State Bar of Georgia, said Barnes’ clients didn’t benefit from having cases heard before his appointees.

“The idea that it gives you any marked advantage I think is just preposterous,” he said. “I am sick and tired of politicians trashing lawyers for political gain.

“If you as a lawyer believed a judge had some bias against your client,” he said, “it would be your duty to move to recuse them.”

Moreover, he said, judges for most cases are picked at random.

“You don’t get to pick a judge of your liking,” he said. “You have no idea of what judge you’re going to get.”

If those Judges did anything in favor of Barnes’ clients, then the adverse party’s attorney should have appealed. No Judge wants his ruling to be overturned by the Court of Appeals, nor face the Qualifications Commission. I’m not buying the Georgia GOP’s theory that the outcome of these cases were influenced by some bias. We’ve got some problematic Judges in Georgia, particularly a certain Federal Judge in Atlanta, but this just seems to be the Georgia GOP grasping at straws.

But this tactic does not surprise me. People hate lawyers. Which makes this a tricky tactic, as Deal and Barnes are both lawyers.  I don’t like Barnes. I don’t hate him as much as this guy. I just don’t like him. But I think this is the wrong route to take in this campaign.

If I were Barnes, however, I would quote that well spoken lawyer in Ghostbusters II – “Give me a break, we’re both lawyers.”


  1. The GOP is not complaining that Barnes is a lawyer. This is not hypocrisy.

    They’re simply observing that Barnes argued cases before judges that he himself appointed, which is, you have to admit, somewhat unusual.

  2. Steve says:

    Wow, I knew that you were a big Ghostbusters fan… but I’ve never seen even a hardcore DragonCon-level fan speak of that horrible sequel or quote from it. THAT’S dedication!

  3. griftdrift says:

    “They’re simply observing that Barnes argued cases before judges that he himself appointed, which is, you have to admit, somewhat unusual.”

    He was Governor for four years which means he appointed judges. He went back into private practice in Georgia. Amazingly, in pursuit of this profession, he appeared before judges.


  4. bgsmallz says:

    “Bowers said Deal’s son, Jason Deal – whom Barnes had appointed – was the district attorney.”

    So, using the logic put forth by the GOP report, Jason Deal is biased in favor of Roy Barnes because of his appointment?

  5. Tyler says:

    Barnes tried cases in front of judges he appointed.

    Well did he use his political office to maintain a business venture with the state?

    Sorry, but Ron is right. If these cases had adverse rulings, there would’ve been appeals.

  6. Erick's Mortal Enemy says:

    This whole thing is a desperate load. It shows the desperation Deal’s folks are feeling right now, attacking the inane and unattackable.

  7. fishtail says:

    I got a big laugh in this article from the media whore Dan McLagan’s pontificating remarks about Roy Barnes. McLagan, now a Deal employee, only a couple of months ago was quoted as saying that Nathan Deal could be arrested at any time by Federal FBI agents for his criminal activities related to Deal’s auto salvage business. Of course, McLagan was on Handel’s payroll then, and when she lost McLagan approached the Deal campaign with his anti-Barnes files and is now prostituting himself to Nathan Deal. So, in sum, Dan McLagan is a whore.

    • B Balz says:

      You say that word ‘whore’ as if there is something wrong with it. Long ago, many realized taking the stigma out of being a ‘whore’ led to a fuller, happier life….

      • fishtail says:

        The ultimate in whoring your services would beDan McLagan approaching a newly-elected Governor Roy Barnes offering the secret files he smuggled out of Nathan Deal’s campaign office that contain all the dirty secrets on Deal. If I were Deal’s folks, I would keep an eye on McLagan and not leave him alone in the file room.

  8. Jawgadude says:

    Yeah, about tha quote from State Bar Pres. Lester Tate – Mr. Tate is a lifelong Democrat, former communications director for former Congressman Buddy Darden, former Bartow County Democrat Chairman, and I bet you find Lester’s signature on a campaign contribution to Mr. Barnes.

    • ACCmoderate says:

      So? He probably knows more about the judicial system and the ethical standards lawyers are held to in this state than Brian Robinson does.

      In short, he’s an expert in regards to the subject matter at hand.

  9. ACCmoderate says:

    1) The baseball reference is incorrect. McGwire didn’t rig the system, he just took steroids. Rigging the system would involve paying pitchers to hang a slider. That point alone should qualify Brian Robinson as a bona fide moron.

    2) Did Robinson or the Deal campaign staff stop to think that Barnes and his firm may have been bringing suit against businesses that actually did something wrong? Certainly the judges and juries of this state seem to think so. I’m glad that Nathan Deal is so on his knees to big business that he’s willing to give them a pass when they violate the rules.

    3) If any opposing lawyers were concerned about bias, they should have made a motion to recuse the judge or appealed the decision after the fact. The fact they didn’t means that Barnes’ lawyers were going up against the most incompetent attorneys in the land OR, more likely, that the opposing lawyers didn’t feel like there was an unfair bias.

    So we’ve now concluded that the judges didn’t think that there was an unfair bias. The juries didn’t think that there was an unfair bias. AND the opposing lawyers didn’t think there was an unfair bias.

    We’ve also established that sports are not the strong suit of Mr. Robinson. But that’s neither here nor there.

    Its tempting to badmouth lawyers to gain a couple more points in the polls. Everyone hates lawyers until they need one. Chalk it up to the GOP running on fear and loathing. If you can scare the uneducated masses into thinking that your opponent brings the apocolypse… you’re sure to win (at least this year).

    I’m disappointed that someone who has been a lawyer AND a judge would stoop to this level. It shows a lack of trust in our judicial system and smacks of middle-school level mudslinging.

    • Doug Grammer says:

      Or opposing council is smart enough to know that asking for a judge to recuse himself is a gamble. If they don’t get the recusal, the judge is biased against them in the case. Sure, they can appeal, but that is more time and money from their clients.

      • ACCmoderate says:

        A) What lawyer doesn’t welcome more time and money from their clients?

        B) All kidding aside, you’re wrong about judges being biased after a recusal.

        Judges aren’t 16 year-old girls. They’re smart enough and know the law well enough that they can rule on a case without biases… even if a lawyers makes a motion to recuse the judge. Why? Because it’s their job. Stealing a line you love to use so much, have you ever actually met a judge?

        • Doug Grammer says:

          Yes. Some of the judges I know are very touchy and some of them are very professional. I’ll stand by my opinion.

          • ACCmoderate says:

            I’m sure the touchy ones will be glad to know that you think they suck at their jobs.

            Look, people can act a certain way on and off the bench. I highly, highly doubt that the “touchy” judges you know act with pettiness when the robes are on. Judges have too much of a respect for the law to act like that on the bench.

            • Doug Grammer says:

              I’ll agree that all judges are professional when you agree that all congressmen are statesmen.

          • Doug Deal says:

            I agree with Grammer here. I have met dozens of Judges and about half of them are good and the other half have no business in the business of law.

  10. objective says:

    Common Cause Georgia, a nonpartisan good government group, is working hard to ensure that whenever a judge may be biased, or appear to be biased, in favor of certain parties or their attorneys, because of campaign contributions or otherwise, that such potential bias be disclosed, allowing opposing parties and counsel to seek recusal of the judge in conjunction with established court ethics and procedure. I will shill outright: More at or

  11. John Konop says:

    I am deeply disappointed no one could come up with a good lawyer joke about Barnes and Deal with this situation.

    What do you call one lawyer calling another lawyer unethical?

    a) Projection

    b) A law firm

    c) He took my client

    d) All of the above


  12. ACCmoderate says:

    An ethical lawyer, the tooth fairy, and a sleazy lawyer are sitting at a bar. There’s a 20 dollar bill in front of them… the lights go out… when the lights come back on, the 20 dollar bill is gone. Who took it?

  13. gatormathis says:

    ….color me naive…..say i just don’t know……i don’t care……….but please allow me just one question………what’s the “normal” cut for the lawyer in the 459 million dollar verdict………and does anyone know if there is a website that shows how much each lawyer involved with the “tobacco settlements” got?…….it would make good reading i think…..

  14. Hmmm. Do I detect a pic of Ric Moranis from Ghostbusters II?

    And my favorite lawyer joke, told to me by a late attorney friend, is too long for this format, but it involves a pastor, a doctor and a lawyer – and the lawyer ends up being the only ethical one, but only in the legal sense.

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