TBA Law Blog

Posted by: William Haltom on Apr 2, 2009

Journal Issue Date: Apr 2008

Journal Name: April 2008 - Vol. 44, No. 4

My wife, Claudia, is from South Pittsburg. Not Pennsylvania. Tennessee. She is a seventh generation Tennessean. Her favorite song is "The Tennessee Waltz," she knows all the words to "Rocky Top," and she looks fabulous in orange.

No doubt about it, Claudia is a peach. But she ain't no Georgia peach no matter what a bunch of pointy-headed, bulldawg-loving Georgia legislators say.

Well, keep your powder dry, my fellow Volunteers. We may soon be fighting the second Battle of Lookout Mountain!

Believe it or not, the Georgia legislature recently passed a resolution that amounts to nothing less than a declaration of war against the Volunteer State. These crazy Georgia lawmakers claim that the Georgia-Tennessee border was erroneously set by a faulty survey in 1818, and the Tennessee-Georgia state line should actually be 1.1 miles further north than where every atlas in the world for nearly 200 years has shown it to be.

The legis-nerds in Atlanta don't have Georgia on their minds. They have Tennessee in their greedy little devious half-brains. If they have their way, portions of Marion County (including my wife's birth place), Chattanooga and East Ridge, as well as the entire town of Lookout Mountain, Tenn., will soon become part of the Peachtree State.

Now why in the name of Lester Maddox is the Georgia legislature taking dead-aim at Rock City? Well, it all comes down to one word: water. We Tennesseans have it. Georgia doesn't. They want it, so they're going to try to steal it fair and square, as if the Tennessee River were the Panama Canal.

You see, my fellow Tennesseans (and when I say Tennesseans, I mean Tennesseans), there is now a major drought in the southeastern United States. Folks down in Georgia are thirsty and in need of a bath. Heck, these days if you are standing in South Pittsburg facing south, you can smell the Georgia legislature.

Well, when these stinking Georgians peek over the Tennessee-Georgia line, they see the majestic Tennessee River and the pristine waters of Lake Nickajack. And when they see all of that beautiful H20 ... well, in the words of a famous Georgia peanut farmer, they lust in their hearts for it!

So now the newly found Georgia Boundary Commission is going to try to roll into southeast Tennessee like a Trojan horse. If we let them get away with it, they will "annex" Lake Nickajack in much the same manner that the German army once annexed Paris (France, not Tennessee).

Well, it ain't gonna happen. We Tennesseans will give up Lake Nickajack when they pry our cold dead fingers off the Evenrudes on our bass-fishing boats. First, you don't have to be Matlock to figure out that the Georgia legislature doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. I'm not a property lawyer, and I've never played one on Ted Turner's superstation. But 30 years ago, I studied property law at the Big Orange College of Law under the tutelage of the legendary Professor Elvin Overton. He is the only professor in the history of the American legal education to lecture while tap-dancing. I wasn't the smartest of law students, and I didn't understand everything Professor Overton tried to teach me. To this day, I don't know the difference between a springing use and a shifting use, and when it comes to rule against perpetuities, I am a regular Ned Racine. But one thing I clearly did understand from Professor Overton's lectures 30 years ago was the concept of adverse possession. Basically, under this concept, if you openly occupy a piece of property for a long time (say, for example, 190 years), that property belongs to you. Apparently, the concept of adverse possession is not taught at the University of Georgia, which isn't all that surprising since very little is typically taught at that institution of lower education.

And if the Georgia legislature can't grasp the concept of adverse possession, here is something those dim-witted peach heads can understand: guns. Lots of 'em. Big orange fire power, baby. If these crazy Georgia boys invade Marion County, they will be driven back by a battalion of Tennessee Volunteers who were the direct descendants of Andy Jackson, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and Sgt. York. The Second Battle of Lookout Mountain won't be pretty. We will kick their peachy fannies in much the same manner that the Tennessee Vols kicked the Georgia Bulldogs when they tried to invade Neyland Stadium last October.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm headed to Lake Nickajack for a little fishing. Eat your hearts out, you thirsty, smelly bunch of Jawja crackers!  

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a partner with the Memphis firm of Thomason, Hendrix, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell. He is past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and is a past president of the Memphis Bar Association.