HCBA Highlights from 25 years ago  

Linda A. Thompson

Article by Linda A. Thompson Featured Author


They say it’s a sign of old age when you can remember events from 25 years ago better than those that happened last week. Glancing through the HCBA News issues from 1989 illustrates that point in a personal way for me. That year Judy Johnson became president of the HCBA; Jay Travis was advising as past president; Leonard Van Slyke was president elect; and Richard Montague was secretary-treasurer (president elect elect).

The HCBA Directors were Pat Bennett, Richard Courtney, Tommy Furby, and Hal Miller. There were many HCBA committee chairmen, to name a few who appeared in pictures: Zeke Downey and Harrison McIver, Bench and Bar Relations; Lynn Fitch, Women in the Profession; Robert Gibbs, Black Lawyer Participation in the Profession; Spencer Gilbert, Legal Aid; Katie Hester, Professional Ethics; John Maxey, Library Services; Peyton Prospere, Program Chairman; Belinda Stevens, Wellness; Carter Thompson, Social; Fulton Thompson and Ben Piazza, Membership.

In June of 1989, the headline story was about the new executive director — Pat Evans, and her appointment effective May 1. At the time, Pat had been serving as Director of Admissions and Placement at Mississippi College School of Law for two years. Before then, she served seven years as Director of Public Relations and Marketing for the Jackson Symphony Orchestra Association. In that capacity, she was awarded ten marketing and communication awards from the International Association of Business Communicators. I don’t know how many awards or trophies Pat has received for her work with HCBA/CABA, but it should be at least ten.

Jackson Mayor Kane Ditto was the speaker at the August 1989 membership luncheon (the individual cost for which was $8.25!) In October, the luncheon speaker was Louisa O. Dixon, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety since January 1988 at the appointment of Governor Ray Mabus. Other special guests pictured after the October meeting were District Judges Walter J. Gex, III, Tom S. Lee, Dan M. Russell, Jr., and Henry T. Wingate. With them was pictured Hinds County Circuit Judge William F. Coleman.

F. Lee Bailey, celebrated attorney and author, was the speaker at MC Law School’s Law Day banquet. His picture, taken with MC Law Dean Alton H. Harvey and Presiding Justice Dan M. Lee of the Mississippi Supreme Court, was featured in the October issue.

George H. W. Bush had begun his first term as U. S. President after succeeding Ronald Reagan, but Captain Equity was off on the state bar convention’s move to Florida after a long tradition of meeting on the Gulf Coast. The Captain noted there were complaints in Sandestin, however, with the comment,

“Of course, it would be naïve to think everybody could be happy with anything these days — up to and including world peace. Take for instance the Mayor of Biloxi, who moped amidst a sea of happy convention goers with his hands in his pockets and his lip poked out. And then there were a score or so of artificially cheerful officials from the Mississippi Gulf Coast who arrived with burlap sacks of Mississippi oysters and enough Jack Daniels sour mash to make Exxon’s Captain Hazelwood take the LSAT.”

All of this casually intertwined with quips about the HUD Scandal of 1989, of course.

Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest speaker invited to the bar convention by the Young Lawyers Section of the Mississippi Bar. He was pictured in the October newsletter and mentioned by Captain Equity, who suggested that Justice Scalia may have been the second choice of the Young Lawyers. “Prompted by a joint resolution of the Real Estate Practice and Criminal Law Sections, the YLS leadership had previously invited former Housing and Urban Development Secretary ‘Silent’ Sam Pierce to deliver his motivational pantomime, ‘Nothing Down and All You Can Stuff in Your Pockets — But I Don’t Want to Know About It.’ Unfortunately, when we called to confirm this report, the former cabinet official whispered, and we quote, ‘I don’t know about it.’”

There were pictures of various capital area lawyers and judges who attended the bar convention in Sandestin. Among them were Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Reuben Anderson and Hinds County Chancery Judges Pat Wise and Denise Sweet Owens.

Christy Jones wrote an article about the establishment of the Charles Clark American Inn of Court in 1989. Hal Freeland of Oxford, one of the organizers of the William Keady American Inn of Court there, was instrumental in the organization of the Inn of Court in Jackson. The Inns of Court aspire to promote professionalism, understanding, and respect among lawyers and good will between the Bar and Bench, with Benchers and Barristers who represent all facets of transactional, trial, and appellate practice and Pupils drawn from promising baby lawyers and law students. The program at the May meeting was entitled “Reflections on Jury Service: The Views of a Group of Jurors.” Eight jurors who had recently served on state and federal juries discussed their observations and objective criticisms about the experience.

The Christmas Social invitation appeared in the October 1989 issue. At that time the event was held under the harsh fluorescent lighting at the Mississippi Bar Center. Perhaps the Old Capitol Inn was still the YWCA then?

In October 1989, the World Series Earthquake shook the San Francisco Bay area and interrupted the Giants and the Oakland A’s. A young quarterback and Gulfport native named Brett Favre drew national attention to the University of Southern Mississippi.

Ray Charles turned 59 in September of 1989. Fats Domino was 61; Jerry Lee Lewis turned 54; Bob Dylan was 48; and B. B. King was 64. Jimmy Buffett turned 43 on Christmas Day 1989, and Elvis had been dead for 12 years.

On April 21, 1989, the Queen of England had her 63rd birthday. Princess Diana was only 28. Nelson Mandela was in his 26th year of imprisonment. On July 2, 1989, we celebrated the 25th birthday of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Willie Morris published Good Old Boy and The Witch of Yazoo in 1989, and John Grisham published A Time to Kill. The movie version of Driving Miss Daisy was released to great acclaim and subsequently won an Oscar, and Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles won the Tony for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Of course, there’s more. You can make the trip back in time yourself by going to the CABA website archives at www.caba.ms and to your memories and to history.