of middle Georgia Bruce Harvey Law Firm by jolinmilioncherie

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           n a late summer afternoon,         It's to see that punishment is meted
    '.        Bruce Harvey is pacing the      out appropriate to the crime."
           . floor of a middle Georgia            Harvey just happens to think that,
Holiday Inn, stripped of everything           as a matter of individual liberty,
but his Alfani briefs, socks, and tat-        peddling crack ought not be a crime
toos. Harvey is stalking the floor, flip-     at all.
ping his ponytail off the back of his             But the fact is that come tomorrow
neck and cursing the air conditioner,         morning, his man is probably going
the hotel, and the whole damn case            to eat a life sentence because crack is a
that has brought him here and left            crime and, in reality, Harvey's got no
him muttering over and over again,            case. A state's witness is scheduled to
"Jones Counry ... here we are in              testify that Harvey's client sold him
Jooooones County, Georgia."                   the dope, and the narc cops "claim" to
     On top of the heat, Harvey is adrift     have subsequently pulled another
from the comparative flash and flow           sack from behind his client's washer
of Atlanta, where he is well-known for        and dryer. So until then, there's noth-
both his legal acumen and sheer               ing left to do but head back into the
image-mongering, where he can deal.           Jones County Seat and see if the local
Here in Jones County, Harvey is an            band and a few beers can jar loose an
out-of-the-know attorney hooked up            opening argument.
with a client who is facing a double              "What'll it be for night time in
life sentence for selling crack, but          Gray, Georgia? Jooooones County,"
who thinks Harvey's a Big City                says Harvey, mulling over the ques-
 miracle worker and therefore won't           tion of appropriate attire as if consid-
do the smart thing and cop a plea.            ering a new suit at Custom Clothiers
Aside from this penny ante case,              or The Image Factory. Finally, he opts
Harvey has his own problems.                  for the black leather riding boots and
     "So wha'd'ya think?" he says, un-        non-holey jeans look, and says, "You
 packing the neatly folded contents of        watch some TV. I'll be right back."
 a blue overnight bag. "Holey jeans               Harvey has a rendezvous with
 and flip flops, or non-holey jeans and       another client on a lower floor, some-
 boots?"                                      one whom he will not discuss because
     Harvey (M.B.A. '77, ].D. '77) had        "Well, you know, it's business." He
spent the day striking a jury for the         disappears down the smoke-dank
 case. Not a bad jury, either- a good         hallway for fifteen minutes, then
 number of women and several minor-           returns with his associate, David
 ity members, with whom "the race             West, and a heavy-set, country-sound-
 card" could play well. But rest assured      ing fellow who calls himself Lee
 that if Harvey had it his way, this guy,     Stevens. The entourage heads first to
 who has already been inside once for         Long Horn Steaks, where Harvey or-
 selling, wouldn't even be in court.          ders salmon because, as Atlanta's
 Harvey would like nothing better             preeminent long-haired, left-handed,
 than to see his client go skipping.          anti-establishment liberal lawyer and
     "Yeah, I'd feel cool. I'd feel very      quasi-vegetarian, he does not fancy
 cool that the system has worked how          "dead bovine."
 it's supposed to work," Harvey had               From there, the plan is to drive
 said on the way to the hotel.                back into the small community of
     Even ifhe's guilty?                      Gray and try to relax, even though
     Sure, says Harvey, because the man        Harvey knows that his client, a forty-
 would have been tried by a jury of his       something black man named Jesse
 peers.                                        Brundage, will not. Brundage insists
     "My job is not to set free the guilty.   on having his day in court, and by the


                                                              G EO R G I A          R
                                                                             DECEMBE 1995 11
Harvey talks about legalizing cocaine with as JIluch self-entranced
fervor as when he s'peaks of the horror of a ward full of crack babies.

high honor and the plain economic       more Road Atlanta than Dunwoody        for Lawrence that could have him o ut
realities of practicing criminal de-    Country Club"), and what he really     of prison in as little as seven years,
fense, Harvey's gonna give it to him.   wants is an old 442, maybe a GTO,      with a college education.
    Since graduating from law school    something with red-blooded muscle.        Harvey also does a lot of pro bono
in 1977, Bruce Harvey has become           Harvey makes a good living          work. He and West are representing
one of t he highest-profile criminal    specializing in drug defense and has   the plaintiff in a battle to remove the
defense attorn eys in Georgia. He is    represented more than his share of     Confederate emblem from the state
known fo r creativity in the court-     high-profile nasties over the years-   flag. He also tried the notoriou s
room, a keen knowledge of criminal      the Columbus Strangler, mail bomber    "Shit Happens" bumper-sticker case
law honed on years of hard-scrabble     Walter Leroy Moody, and Eddie          in Cobb County as a free-speech issue
cases, and for applying what he's       Lawrence, the middleman in Atlanta's   and was successful in bringing down
learned with a zealot's intensity.      highly sensationalized Sarah Tokars    a plaque of the Ten Commandments
    "I'd see him down at the federal    murder case. Harvey brokered a deal    in the Cobb County courthouse. He
pen wh en he was just get-                                                                 has been an active watch-
ting under way, working                                                                    dog in Georgia'S jury selec-
these little cases and losing                                                              tion process, helping to
them-as you do nine out                                                                    ensure that everyone is
of ten times anyway- then                                                                  called to serve, and he is a
trying another one," says                                                                  popular public speaker,
Marietta attorney and state                                                                recently discoursing at a
senator Charles Clay, who                                                                  seminar sponsored by the
was a year behind Harvey at                                                                state bar on "How to Fight
Georgia. "He's a very dili-                                                                Injustice."
gent lawyer who has paid                                                                      Harvey talks about legal-
his dues. "                                                                                izing cocaine with as much
    But it is Harvey's court-                                                              self-entranced fervor as
room volatility and his rebel                                                              when he speaks of the hor-
image that make him stand                                                                  ror of a ward full of crack
out in the Atlanta legal                                                                   babies. He' ll tell you
scene, and they are as much                                                                capital punishment is
a function of the lawyer                                                                   obscene and immoral, but
manufacturing a style, as                                                                  in the next sentence vow
they are the essence of who                                                                that if it were his wife that
Bruce Harvey really is.                                                                    someone had raped and
    In court or on TV, he's                                                                murdered, "Hey, the guy
decked out in thousand-                                                                    wouldn' t even get to the
dollar hand-tailored suits                                                                 trial. "
and monogrammed shirts.                                                                        And he takes such
But he wears Hawaiian                                                                      delight at confounding the
shirts and jeans around his                                                                system, at pushing the
office, which is located in                                                                spirit of "innocent until
an old down town ware-                                                                     proven guilty" so far
house and is such a small                                                                  toward the gray area
operation that the recep-                                                                  between crusader for
tionist also helps keep the                                                                justice and self-serving
books. Until recently,                                                                     egomaniac, that some may
Harvey drove a black                                                                       be left wondering whether
whale-finned Porsche with                                                                  Harvey represents a goodly
th e vanity license plate                                                                  part of what is wrong with
ACQUIT. But he was tooling around       Harvey and associate Pete Whitlock     the American justice system, or one of
Gray in a bone-white Corvette ZR-l      (at left) are involved in the court    the few remaining things that is right
("Better profile potential, you know;   battle to change the state flag.       about it.


12 DECEMBER 1995 . G EO RG I A
B            ruce Harvey moved to         parking lot in the back of a Chrysler             Other than studying, Harvey says
     .     • Athens when he was           station wagon. One morning, while              his only collegiate ambitions were
.         . thirteen years old. He'd      driving to the beach, Harvey did a             rugby and sleeping. He didn' t want
 grown up in Worcester, Massachu-         slow rolling "Hollywood stop" at a             much to do with his peers, who were
 setts, the product of a solid family,    red light. A cop hiding behind a bill-         given to wearing ties and toting brief-
 but surrounded by the late-fifties,      board pulled him over. Harvey had an           cases to class. "I mean, would you
 northern industrial melting pot icons    outstanding jaywalking ticket and the          want to hang out with a bunch of fu-
 of zip guns, switch blades, and gangs.   cop carted him to the courthouse.              ture lawyers?" he asks.
 He landed at Alps RoadJunior High,           "I told the judge, 'This is bullshit,' "      After a year oflaw school, Harvey
 and as a Yankee Jewish city kid who      says Harvey. "And the judge says,              hit the road. He ran out of money in
 wore pegged pants, a duck tail hair-     'Nobody talks to me like that,' and I          Idaho, got hired as a smoke jumper,
 cut, and pointy-toed "fence climbing     ended up in jaiL So here I am, a               and says he jumped into two fires in
 boots," Harvey's die as an outsider      decent kid, not poor, not really doing         Idaho and Oregon. Convinced he'd
  was early cast.                         anything wrong, and I end up in jail           rather make a living with his brain than
     Though he recalls sneaking out of    with all these people who have no              his back, Harvey returned to law
 bed at nigh t as a kid to watch Perry    money, who can't take care of them-            school, graduated, passed the bar on
 Mason, Harvey says he had no real        selves. And I said to myself, I can do         his second try, and began practicing
 career focus until late in his under-    this. I can prevent this."                     in rural counties.
 graduate years at North Carolina             It was his first awareness of the             "I've heard him say how Judge
 State, where he studied economics        power oflaw, but Harvey was unable to          Oack) Gunter and the court reporter
 during the late sixties.                 get into law school. To prove he could         in Clarkesville and Habersham taught
    As a collegiate swimmer, Harvey       do graduate-level work, he spent a year        him how to practice law," says his
 traveled to California one summer for    getting his M.B.A. at UGA, where his           wife, Atlanta artist Paige Harvey.
 a training camp. He was working part     father, Irwin, was a business school              It was in those small-town court-
 time at a place called Apple Andy's      professor. The following year he was           rooms, long before the salt-and-pep-
 Pizza Parlor and sleeping in the pool    accepted to the UGA law schooL                 per ponytail and sartorial polish, that


                                                                                                        G E0 RG I A   DECEMBER 1995 13
           It's hard to believe looking at him
      now, but Harvey (shown with associate
         David West) learned to practice law
                   in small-town courtrooms.


    Harvey learned the value of an image.
    Once, while representing a client in
   Judge Gunter's court, Harvey's client
   began pleading and gesticulating
   excitedly before the bench, when,
   according to Harvey, the judge with-
   drew a sizable handgun from beneath
   his robe and leveled it in both fists
   atop the bench, warning the defen-
   dant to back off.
      "I just dove out of the way and hit
   the floor," says Harvey. "And then I
  realized that everybody in the court-
  room was laughing, and Judge Gunter
  was barely concealing a laugh. It was
  his way of initiating new lawyers."
      It was also a lesson in the power of
  personal presence. Though certainly
  not the originator of the long-haired
  liberal lawyer look (a title that prob-
  ably belongs to famed San Francisco
  attorney Tony Serra, whose life was
  the basis for the movie True Believer),
 Harvey is its shrewd practitioner. His
 loft-style office of exposed brick walls
 and pine beams on Nassau Street, in
 the shadow of the Omni, is as much a
 professional statement as it is a per-
 sonal one. Sheets of white Plexiglas
 angle muted lighting at several Paige
 Harvey originals, which resound with
 ecological themes. The coffee table is
 strewn with copies of High Times, and
 a black 1979 Harley Davidson Super-
glide is parked under a stairwell that
corkscrews upward through spiraled
shelves oflaw books, up to Harvey's
office, where the attic-force heat is
just "the price of being cool," he says.
"When people walk in, I want them to             but he certainly hasn't got the silence    Attorney Beau McClain to a fight
know that this is not the law office of          part yet. Out of court, he is as person-   right there in the courtroom.
the normal lawyer, with oriental rugs            able and often as subdued a guy as            The conflagration was over
and Queen Anne chairs, sitting                   one could find, his office a meager        McClain's closing argument in the
around serving tea."                             offering to urban renewal, himself a       trial ofJeffHenry, who stood accused
     Tattoos crawl along Harvey's wrist,         Braves fan, a devotee of pop legal         of murdering his twin brother, with
up the forearms. His latest is a                 fiction, a guy who goes on bird-           whom he had been entangled in a life-
serpent, with fangs barred, sprawled             watching trips with his wife. But then     long love-hate relationship. Harvey's
behind his right thumb.                          there's his other half who, in the heat    client admitted to the shotgunning
     "Yeah," says Harvey, looking at the         ofbatcle last spring in Douglas County,    after a drunken fight in the brothers'
snake and wiggling his thumb . "Silent           was sent to jail twice for contempt-       shared apartment, but said it was an
but deadly."                                     the second time for ripping offhis tie     accident, and ultimately an act of self
    Harvey may or may not be deadly,             and challenging Assistant District         defense after years of abuse from his


14 DECEMBER 1995 . G EO R G I A
Does Harvey re'present 'part of what is wrong with the Americanjustice
system.? Or one of the fewrem.aining things that's right about it?

brother. Harvey and co-counsel Billy
Spruell attempted to apply a male
version of the battered women's
syndrome argument to their case.
    "[The defense] spent the whole
                                            B
                                            .
                                                 .
                                                         ruce Harvey is at the
                                                       • Georgia Rib Company in
                                                      . Gray, doodling on a paper
                                              table cloth with a complimentary
                                             crayon. He pushes out a patch of
                                                                                         is a difference between coffee and
                                                                                         scotch, too, and they're both legal."
                                                                                             He looks at the menu, notices the
                                                                                         special, which is quail, and says, "God,
                                                                                         how could anybody shoot a little
trial speaking of the past bad conduct       color with no form or direction, sort       quail?" He wolfs down a sad-looking
of the victim in order to devalue the        of like his case. That morning, he had      tuna melt, and heads back to the
victim's life, to make it look like he       told the judge that he thinks his cli-      courtroom, where he spends the rest
deserved what he got," says McClain,         ent is foolish and should negotiate.        of the day querying prospective jurors
who in closing equated the defense           Harvey cites statistics on eligible Afri-   with surprising playfulness, coaxing
argument with the views of a racist, to      can Americans who have been given life      laughter from even the sternest mid-
whom all lives are not equal.                sentences for drug violations in the        dle Georgia conservatives, making the
    At that, Harvey jumped up with a         Ocmulgee Circuit (22 percent, accord-       ladies blush, speechifying where he
"major motion," showering McClain            ing to Harvey), versus the percentage       can- and obviously enjoying himself.
with obscenities and challenging him         of eligible whites (0 percent).                 One day after the trial was sup-
to a fight. "He started taking off his                                                   posed to open, Harvey calls up with
clothes and got in my face and acted                                                     the news: "Mistrial, big boy," he says.
like he was going to hit me, but he            In a recent case in                       In an unexpected turn ofluck for the
didn' t," says McClain.                                                                  defendant, Harvey says the state's key
    The judge threw Harvey in jail for          Douglas County,                          witness told the judge, outside the
contempt, his second trip in that case                                                   presence of the jury, that his state-
alone. The first had been for refusing
                                            Ha:rvey was sent to jail                     ment had been coerced. On the stand,
to turn over photos to the prosecu-          twice for contem.pt-                        he took the fifth. The prosecution
tion, a move that was calculated for                                                     then began asking the witness ques-
its dramatic as well as legal impact.         the second time for                        tions which Harvey argued were
    Was this outburst just a stunt, too,                                                 clearly illegal-intent, says Harvey, on
a display of righteous indignation to          ri.P'ping offhis tie                      a mistrial. The judge granted a mis-
galvanize the jury? Of course not, says                                                  trial over Harvey's objection, but he
Harvey, who continues to call
                                             and challenging the                         now has a double-jeopardy defense.
McClain's analogies "ludicrous, ste-           assistant DA. to a                            "If the state goads you into a mis-
reotypical redneck, and misogynistic."                                                   trial by doing something erroneous,
    Legally speaking, the day went to           cou:ctroom. fight.                       the state may not be able to retry
Harvey and Spruell. The case ended in                                                    him," he says. "There's a chance the
mistrial, with six jurors petitioning the                                                guy could skate."
district attorney not to retry the case,        It's the race card, and Harvey will          And so, from Bruce Harvey's per-
and to release the defendant. The            play it to the jury ifhe can. Anyway,       spective, in this case, the system
D.A. accepted a voluntary manslaugh-         he figures the prosecution is just          worked. The law was there, and the
 ter plea with first-offender status.        foaming to use this case to show a          law was clear. What may not be so
 Based on the two years he had already       long-haired city boy how it's done          clear, to some, is whether Bruce
 served,JeffHenry, who shot his own          down here on the banks of the mighty        Harvey has just spared an undeserv-
 brother in his brother's own bed-           Ocmulgee. And when he talks, a great        ing man from the living death of
 room, is now a free man.                    many of Harvey's sentences are pre-         prison, or helped put another crack
    "I'm sure there's some residual ani-     ceded by one of his favorite words:         dealer back on the street.
 mosity [on McClain's part]," says               Clearly, the system is prejudiced           "People should be happy that the
 Harvey, "but that's water under the         against the black man. Clearly, people      system does work, that it's working
bridge and we need to go forward. "          ought to have the right to do with          for the next time they or one of their
    McClain acknowledges Harvey's            their bodies as they please. Clearly,       loved ones get into trouble," he says.
considerable legal skills, but sounds        alcohol and cigarettes are drugs, too.      "The real winner here is the public.
less forgiving.                                  But isn't there a difference between,   They just don' t realize it."
    "I guess when you spend your             say, beer and crack?
whole life defending criminals, it rubs          "Just because one will kill you fast-   Steve Walburn is a freelance writer
off and you start acting like one."          er than the other?" says Harvey. "There     who lives in Atlanta.


                                                                                                        G E 0 RG I A   DECEMBER 1995 15

								
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