(The Return of) Ignatz, by Sam Heldman

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Howell Heflin
Not to take anything away from Johnnie Cochran, a great criminal defense lawyer, but here's to former Alabama Chief Justice and U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, who died yesterday.

Senator Heflin was, for his time and place, a real progressive on many issues. He had a real sense of fairness. He brought the Alabama Supreme Court into the 20th century. He had such an accent. Every Alabama lawyer, in the heat of the moment during argument or trial, sometimes subconsciously exaggerates his or her own accent. I have done it myself, embarrassingly enough. I think that maybe we're trying to be Howell Heflin.

He also stole a very lame joke from me once. One summer when I was about 18, I was an intern at the Birmingham public radio station, and the one-person news department sent me off with a microphone and a cassette record to cover the groundbreaking for some new building. Before it started, I found myself standing next to Senator Heflin, in front of a huge hole in the ground with backhoes and bulldozers in it. I said, "Gee Senator, we're here for a groundbreaking but it looks like they've broken quite a bit of ground already." Then the ceremony starts, and he stole my joke, and everybody laughed.

posted by sam 7:26 AM 0 comments


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