Remembering United States District Judge Robert L. Taylor

Edited by Judge Charles D. Susano Jr. | Tennessee Valley Publishers | $19.95 | 220 pages | 2009

Robert Love Taylor was the federal judge in Knoxville from 1949 until 1985. This collection consists of war stories from lawyers who endured his wrath. Judge Taylor was not endowed with a judicial temperament. Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Charlie Susano has edited the many letters he received and arranged them in Remembering United States District Judge Robert L. Taylor: A Collection of Memories in chapters such as "Continuances" (rare), "Women and the Judge" (see "Mr. Lady" at page 59), and "Speedy Justice."

A widely repeated story comes from the trial of entertainer James Brown after a riot. A police officer tried to cleanse his testimony by using the abbreviation "M.F." Judge Taylor demanded to know what those initials stood for. The officer told him. "The court understands!"

Another true tale widely circulated stems from the sentencing of a car thief to prison. A woman in the back of the courtroom reacted loudly. Judge Taylor asked the clerk who the lady was. Upon being informed it was the defendant's mother, the judge commanded "Get that mother out of here!" The bailiff jerked the defendant out of his chair and hauled him off.

While we can enjoy a chuckle while reading these memories, we lawyers " and especially judges " need to remember Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct where it states: "A judge shall be patient, dignified, and courteous to litigants, jurors, witnesses, lawyers, and others with whom the judge deals in an official capacity ..."
My memories of Judge Taylor? I've tried to repress them.

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Donald F. Paine DONALD F. PAINE is of counsel to the Knoxville firm of Paine, Tarwater, Bickers, and Tillman LLP.