Memorials, 0521 ALBJ, Vol. 82 No. 2 Pg. 207 (June, 2021)

PositionVol. 82 2 Pg. 207


No. Vol. 82 No. 2 Pg. 207

Alabama Bar Lawyer

May, 2021

James H. Evans, Louis B. Feld, Ben L. Zarzaur

James H. Evans

Although 34 years have passed, in my mind's eye I am transported back to that day in March 1987, when I first met James H. "Jimmy" Evans. I was a 24-year-old newly minted lawyer looking for direction. He had already long established himself as the corruption fighting district attorney of Montgomery County. I sat across a huge antique deskfrom him, flanked by his administrative assistant, Bob Bryant, and Chief Deputy Ellen Brooks, as he sized me up. To this day, I'm not sure if it was the interview or my almost-daily follow-up calls over the next couple of weeks, but I finally received a call from Jimmy on a Friday afternoon advising me to report to work the following Monday.

Jimmy was a man of large stature. He seemed particularly imposing to me when, on occasion, he admonished me to "not make any exotic moves on his dance floor." Yet, it was the kind of scolding that a father would give a child. Never harsh or demeaning, but rather a reminder to do better. We were all family to him. As I'd go on to learn over the years, his heart was equally as large, with a desire to seek redress for those who had been wronged.

Life at the DA's office was chaotic and challenging. From shepherding cases through grand jury, district and circuit court, to rushing into the courtroom to strike a jury as I read through my green file folder, to finding a live tiger in the office who'd stopped by for a visit, to lively lunches with Jimmy at Tony's Pizza followed by chasing the Snap-On tool truck down Bell Street, it would be the best job I've ever had.

Like so many of us Jimmy mentored over the years, the lessons that I learned from him, both in and outside of the courtroom, are too voluminous to reduce to writing. The most important of those for me have been empathyforand championing the causes of those who have been victimized by crime, preparation, fearlessness in the courtroom, and, above all, to do justice. Jimmy was quite simply put the best courtroom trial attorney I've witnessed. His rapport with a jury was magical to watch.

I would go on to work with Jimmy for seven years, both at the DA's office and at the Attorney General's Office. Although our career paths diverged in 1995, I've tried to apply those lessons learned so many years ago every day since then. I...

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