Title: Robert M. Montgomery
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006356/00001
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Title: Robert M. Montgomery
Series Title: Robert M. Montgomery
Physical Description: Book
Publication Date: 1987
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006356
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Interviewee: Robert Morel Montgomery, Jr.
Interviewer: Denise Stobbie
Date: October 27, 1987

Robert Montgomery was born and raised outside of Birmingham, Alabama. He
went through school there, including the University of Alabama. After graduation in
1957, he entered the military for two years through ROTC, and then came to the
University of Florida law school, where he graduated in 1957 with a J.D. Lately, he has
been devoting time and energy in philanthropic endeavors, particularly in the community
and the arts.
His father was an outstanding criminal lawyer in Birmingham, and Montgomery
attributes his interest in law and early success to that exposure to the profession. After
UF, Montgomery went to work for Howell, Kirby, Montgomery, and Sands in
Jacksonville, a firm which dealt mostly with insurance corporations. Montgomery was
fortunate to receive considerable case work early, which is somewhat unusual for a
novice lawyer. As Florida grew, the firm expanded into Daytona Beach, West Palm
Beach, Boca Raton, and Ft. Lauderdale.
By 1975, Montgomery diverted his practice from corporations to the plaintiffs.
He speaks at length of insurance companies and the trouble dealing with management,
and how the consumer usually loses. Malpractice in particular was a bone of
contention for him. As a result, Montgomery formed his own company, Rumger, to
insure lawyers, and has been quite successful.
Montgomery vividly recalls how rough times were when he was in school here,
but those hardships built a strong camaraderie among the students. He would like to
see a different manner of selecting students for the law school, but has no suggestions
at present. Competition is tough; even he acknowledges that when he was in school,
the attrition rate was quite high. He recalls course work with professors Henry Fenn, V.
W. "Danny" Clark, James Day, Karl Kastin, Frank Maloney, and Clarence TeSelle. He
notes how different how specialized law is today. To this day, he holds the highest
regard for the University of Florida law school and feels a tremendous debt of gratitude
to the University for providing him the training to make a successful career.
Montgomery's advice to fledgling lawyers is simple: work hard, always think of
the client first, and be trustworthy. On ethics, his counsel is equally succinct: "If there is
a question of whether it is right of wrong, do not do it. That is how simple ethics is."

S: This is Denise Stobbie interviewing Mr. Robert Montgomery, a 1957 alumnus of
the University of Florida College of Law and a senior partner with the law firm
Montgomery, Searcey, and Denney. Would you please state your full name and
your date of birth?

M: Robert Morel Montgomery, Jr.; June 9, 1930.

S: You started your higher education at the University of Alabama. What was your

Page 2

major there?

M: Chemistry, with a minor in biology.

S: Were you raised in Alabama?

M: I was born there in 1930 and lived on the outskirts of Birmingham, in a place out
in the country called Roebuck Springs. I attended public school in Birmingham
at Woodlawn High School, where I graduated in 1948. I went to the University
of Alabama from 1948 to 1952. Then I spent two years in the service in the
Korean War. After one year in the service I married my wife, whom I met at the
University of Alabama. In September, 1954, after I got out of the service, I
entered law school with the GI Bill.

S: How did the move to Florida come about?

M: We were always vacationing in Florida. My wife's family at one time lived in
Tallahassee. Her father was with Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. I had
always loved Florida, and coming here was the best decision that we ever made.
My grandfather had been a lawyer and my father was a lawyer, but I just did not
feel that I could go back home and practice law with him. I wanted to be
independent, so we came here on the GI Bill. Mary worked as a secretary with
the psychological clinic at the University during the time we were here, so she
was working and I was going to school on the GI Bill.

S: Did she attend school, also?

M: No. She graduated from the University of Alabama. That is a rather funny
story. In Georgia there were only had eleven grades. In other words, you went
through eleven years, and then you either got out of school or you went to
college. In the state of Alabama we had twelve years. Consequently, she was
a year ahead of me, so there was a year that I had to pull at the University of
Alabama before I graduated. We obviously could not get married until I got out
of school. She was an airline stewardess for Delta from 1952 until we got
married in 1953. Then, of course, the Korean War was on, and I did not know
when or if I was going to have to go overseas. They handed me my degree in
one hand and my orders through ROTC in the other. So we were married the
last year I was in the service.
Another reason for coming to Florida was I had discovered that Dean
Henry Fenn from Yale was the new dean at the University of Florida College of
Law. Everyone had great hopes for the law school at that time. They were
studying from the same materials and the same format used at Yale. That
intrigued me, because I did not have the money or the grades, for that matter -
to go to one of the Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or

Page 3

Columbia. So that also motivated us to come to Florida.

S: It seems that it would have been easier on you to stay in Alabama. With your
father's background and your grandfather's, you would be more established

M: Yes, but everyone has a little rebellion in their nature at that age anyway. I
guess I have always had it I just wanted to get away. Of course, I had a lot of
help from my wife Mary, and from the GI Bill, which is the greatest thing that ever

S: Had you always planned on studying law?

M: I had, but my father had not. He wanted me to be a doctor. He said, "As long
as I am paying for your education, you are going to take what I tell you to take."
I said okay, and that is why I majored in chemistry and biology. I was actually in
pre-med at that time.

S: Were you interested in law?

M: I had not the slightest desire to become a doctor.

S: How far back did your desire to be a lawyer go?

M: I used to tag along with my dad, who was quite an outstanding criminal lawyer in
Birmingham, since I was a tyke. They used to hold court on Saturdays, and
even when I was in the small grades first, second, third, fourth I used to go
with him to court on Saturday. I was always interested in hearing him in
sensational cases. He represented many notorious folks, and he had a great
deal of notoriety himself. Listening to him speak to his clients over the
telephone, having them come to the house, having to meet a murderer or the
fellow who held up the First National Bank in Birmingham that was quite
fascinating. I think I probably had a leg up when I went to law school, and also
when I began practicing law, because of the experience I had in the home, both
with my grandfather and my father. I do not think you can be around that
atmosphere and not have it rub off, insofar as the way you treat your clients, the
respect you have for the court system, and things of that nature.

S: When you entered law school, were you putting yourself through school?

M: Yes, we put ourselves through. We got no help.

S: Was that a choice? Was your father still interested in your pursuing a medical

Page 4

M: He was not happy with my going to law school. He felt that the law was, as he
used to call it, the queen of all professions. But at that particular time, I guess
there were a lot of young lawyers who were not making it; all the young doctors
were. I think he probably looked at it through an entrepreneurial eye, as
opposed to considering what I wanted to do. But he was dead set against my
becoming a lawyer. As a matter of fact, he and I hardly spoke for several years
after I went into law school. My mother and father divorced when I was quite
young, so, consequently, there was no family unit, and I did not have a mother to
argue for my position.

S: So at that time there were some lawyers who were having a hard time making it?

M: It was tough back then. I was the last man in my class to get a job, and I started
at $300 a month. My first big raise was $25 after six months. I believe after
my first year, my salary was $375.

S: Was that a problem just in Florida, or the Southeast?

M: I think it was universal. Back then, lawyers were trained to carry a briefcase for
years; you did not just go in and try a lawsuit. That is one of the things that I
changed as much as I could. In the first place, I tried to receive a liveable wage
once I got to be a partner in the then firm of Howell, Kirby, Montgomery, and
Sands. That was the senior Mr. Charles Cook Howell, one of the most famous
railroad lawyers and legal personages in the state of Florida. It was then Howell
and Kirby. I persisted and used every means I could to get a job with them. I
would not take no for an answer. William M. Howell, who still practices in
Jacksonville, and T. Malcolm Kirby gave me a job in February, 1957. I began
working for the then Howell and Kirby firm of Jacksonville. They represented
what was then the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. Mr. Howell had represented
Atlantic National Bank. But primarily it was insurance defense
work--representing insurance companies. We had more business than we could
say grace over, so all of a sudden, right out of law school, I started trying
lawsuits. This was a real break in the mold.
My first year out I must have tried a dozen cases, which was a lot of
cases. Of course, you could try a case in a day. We represented insurance
companies on all types of subrogation work. We did not have no-fault back
then. The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure had just taken affect in 1954. The
firm seemed to like what I was doing, so all of a sudden I was a young lawyer at
twenty-eight years old making quite a name for myself, simply because I was
always in court. I represented 7-11 in regard to the blue laws in Jacksonville.
People forget that thirty years ago you could not buy a loaf of bread on Sunday,
much less a beer, because everything was shut down. So we attacked the blue
laws, and that was one of the first that I had a lot of interest in. It was a lot of
fun. I represented the Southland Corporation, which is 7-11.

Page 5

S: They could not sell anything on Sunday?

M: No! They would come out and arrest you if you opened up on Sunday. It was a
city ordinance. That sure is silly.

S: That is amazing. I can understand prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages,
but not bread, eggs, and milk.

M: Ultimately, we did away with the ordinances as a result of certain pieces of

S: How much interest was there in that? I imagine there was quite a bit.

M: Quite a bit in the state of Florida. The old Howell-Kirby firm started the first
branch office concept. We had an office in Jacksonville, but then we started
finding ourselves going more and more to Daytona Beach, which is in Volusia
County. We thought about opening an office down there, and we did. When
we got situated there, we found out that we were going a little bit further south.
Then, all of a sudden, Sputnik came, and the boom was on in Brevard County.
We opened an office in Rockledge, and there was a lot of activity there. We
were still doing primary insurance work. Then we were asked by several of our
good companies and our self-insured clients, like Ryder Truck Lines, if we would
open an office in south Florida. We said no for a long time.
One week in Jacksonville I tried two cases at the same intersection. I
had the same investigating officers and the same independent medical expert. I
said, "This is crazy. I am getting bored to death." So we had a meeting--the
firm was pretty large then, with twenty-five or thirty lawyers--and I said, "Why not
open an office down in south Florida." I had never been to West Palm Beach
before, but in 1966 I opened the branch office here in West Palm Beach--Howell,
Kirby, Montgomery, D'Aiuto, Dean, and Hallowes. I had an office here in West
Palm Beach, an office in Boca Raton, which was also expanding, and then I
opened an office in Fort Lauderdale, so we were the pre-eminent law firm on the
coast at that time. Our work took us to Jacksonville, Rockledge, Daytona
Beach, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, and Fort Lauderdale. We then opened
in Orlando, and our final office was in St. Petersburg. That is when I got an
ulcer and decided the best thing to do was to put everything under one roof here.
In 1975, I changed my philosophy completely, away from representing what I
call the "vested interest"--banks, railroads, and insurance companies--to the
plaintiff's side and the commercial side. I do not represent any insurance
companies anymore. That was by choice, although everybody thought I was

S: Why the change?

Page 6

M: I was pretty much the darling of the insurance companies at that particular time.
I was trying an awful lot of cases, and I was pretty good at what I did. I had a
case one time that meant a lot to me. I defended a case for a corporation up in
Martin County and won it. It was a little girl with brain damage, and she would
never work. Between you and me and the gatepost, the lawyer on the other
side was just not good, and they lost. I said, "No more." Coming back from the
trial, I told my wife that I was giving up working for insurance companies; I was
not going to do it anymore, and I quit. As I said, everybody thought I was crazy.

S: Had that been coming for some time?

M: Yes, I was getting dissatisfied with the management. They were changing the
claims practice and using the M.B.A. boys that is, the money boys to
substitute the good, solid claims personnel they used to have the professionals.
If you were in an accident, they would get right out there and take a statement.
You were in partnership with [your company rather] than being a problem to
them. As far as I am concerned, the whole atmosphere changed, along with the
whole insurance industry. It was just not fun anymore. I was finding that I was
fighting more with the top management of the company than I was the opposing
lawyer. Some pretty good alumni were glad that I made that choice, because
when I told the insurance companies I was no longer going to represent them,
these young fellows got those accounts.

S: What type of work did you choose instead?

M: Representing persons who were injured and who had been bringing suits. I also
did a lot of commercial litigation, in other words, partnership breakups, minority
stockholders suits, certain aspects of securities law, such as churning accounts
by brokers and negligent handling of accounts in some of the brokerage houses.
We look at ourselves as somewhat of a boutique. This is all we do. We do not
probate wills, we do not write wills, we do not close loans. We do not do
anything except litigation; we are litigation lawyers.

S: How many lawyers are in your firm today?

M: Twenty, but we have 110 employees.

S: Any more branch offices?

M: No, no more branch offices. No, ma'am. This is it. What you see is what you
have got. I have this building here and a little park out there. We have other
offices next door where we keep support personnel, like paralegals and

Page 7

S: You said you had an ulcer and you pulled it all under one roof. Why?

M: I had an ulcer and decided that I wanted to consolidate everything.

S: Just to simplify things?

M: Yes. Jacksonville spun off everybody just kept their offices and went back to
business. The firm broke up in 1975.

S: How do you feel about big firms as opposed to small firms?

M: You know, that is a very interesting question. I do not know what I think about it.
I know that I could not operate in that atmosphere, because the only way that
you can do as well in a large organization as you can in a small organization is to
use lower echelon folks to make your money for you. If you work forty hours a
week, fifty weeks a year, that is 2,000 hours. It is very difficult to honestly bill out
on an hourly basis more than 2,000 hours, considering bar work, cultural
activities, civic activities, family outings, two-weeks' vacation, pro bono, etc. It is
extremely difficult to get 2,000 billable hours a year. A person can say, "Yes, I
worked 1,500 hours," and you may work twelve or fifteen hours six or seven days
a week. But you are going to find that a lot of those hours are non-productive.
So the only way a large firm that charges on an hourly basis can do this is to
have a lot of young folks. Of course, as they rise to the top, they consequently
are more protective and are looking to be in management. All of a sudden,
there is no place to go you are top heavy. So what happens? You lose good
people. Our philosophy has been to keep our people the best we can through a
bonus system in which their achievements are recognized. That is the reason
we have kept our lawyers at twenty. We have about 118 employees all told.

S: Let me go back and touch on a few things that you have already talked about.
You said that you started the branch idea with the old Howell, Kirby firm. What
kind of response did you get from other firms and other members of the
profession at that time?

M: A lot of animosity, because we were encroaching on their turf. We were in a
unique position because we represented these companies on a national basis.
In other words, persons from Hartford, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York were
hiring us in Florida, as opposed to persons in Florida cities hiring us. Naturally,
when we went to another city, we already knew the leadership and top
management of the various corporations that we represented, so it was only
natural for them to follow us. That did not sit very well with a lot of people.
Others did not care, but persons doing the same type of work did not look at it as
very kindly.

Page 8

S: Has that changed with the branch idea being so widespread?

M: I think so. With the explosion of the population here in Florida, there is just
enough for everybody. If you are good, people are going to come to you. You
have to have confidence in what you are doing and confidence in yourself. I
know in the plaintiff's work, in doing what I do, it is absolutely contrary.
Everybody is helpful to everyone else, and they are cooperative in sharing
experiences and ideas. I think lawyers from the consumer or plaintiff side are
more welcome coming into the community than they would be representing the
commercial business.

S: You said that you were not having any fun anymore representing the insurance
companies. How about now? Are you having fun again?

M: Oh, yes, I love it. I love difficult, challenging cases. Like today, in this
atmosphere of medical malpractices, it is extremely difficult there in front of the
jury. Jurors are highly critical of lawyers. They complain that those of us in the
legal profession are the cause of this whole crisis in which doctors are going on
strike. It is very difficult to get a fair and impartial jury in this day and age.

S: If you are representing the doctor?

M: If you are representing the plaintiff.

S: The plaintiff? I would think that the jury would be more sympathetic, then.

M: No, because they say it is the high jury awards that have prevented these good
doctors from staying. They will not deliver babies anymore, they have closed
down trauma centers, and they have closed down emergency rooms.
Whenever they are interviewed, they always blame lawyers, but it simply is not
so. The statistics I have been privy to say that that is an absolute fallacy. So it
is a very sad thing. It is very tough for the consumer today.

S: Well, at the same time, people want the doctors to be held accountable, though,
if they do something wrong.

M: Not most of the jurors, believe it or not. It is a terrible atmosphere. Or if they do
want the doctor to be accountable, they do not like to quote "big verdicts,"
whatever that is. For example, there is case I am going to be trying Monday on
behalf of a young man who is thirty-two years old, and half of his body is
paralyzed. He is going to need physical therapy, and [financially] it will hurt him
terribly as far as his work is concerned, so a couple of million dollars is just not all
that much money. So these are very difficult times.
There is a mood of change toward taking away the right of trial by jury and

Page 9

putting it into a workers' compensation type of thing. I have had rules changed
because of results of cases that this firm has tried. The change is for the
protection of the consumer. Thanks to the tort system, corporations are not
going to do anything that they do not have to do. I have a case right now where
the person has been terribly harassed on a debt. She really has no
compensatory loss $100 but the punitive damages can only be three times
the compensatory. So what? Do corporations care about $300? They thumb
their noses at that. This is the thing that disturbs me about what is happening.
The tort system is a wonderful system, and if they would just leave it alone, it
could correct a lot of wrongs.
For example, take 1937 when Hitler went against the synagogues. In one
fell swoop, overnight he burned them, vandalized them, beat the rabbis and the
cantors, tore up their music utterly desecrated them. Now, if they had had
punitive damages, that would happen only one time and they would be out of
business, just like the Ku Klux Klan was put out of business for hanging that kid
in Mobile, Alabama. Corporations that are amoral, that have no consideration
for the public, ought to be put out of business. A person who puts out a
defective automobile, and knows it is defective, balances the cost of deaths and
injuries with the cost of recall, and chooses deaths and injuries over recall! They
ought to be put out of business, for they have no right to do business anywhere.
A person who fails to appropriately test their products like thalidomide ought
to be put out of business. An amoral company that runs amuck has no right to
be in business in this state, or in these United States, as far as I am concerned.
I started in an insurance company. Did I tell you that?

S: No.

M: That is another aspect. About three years ago my office manager came down to
see me and said they would not renew our insurance. Several weeks later he
came in and said, "I cannot find insurance coverage anywhere." I said, "Alright,
go out and get a big deductible $500,000." He came back and said, "I cannot
even get a $500,000 deductible." I said, "Get a $1 million deductible." He
replied, "No $1 million deductible." There was absolutely no market; they would
not write trial lawyers. Now, whether this was by design or otherwise, I do not
know, but it angered me so much that I called my accountants Levanthol and
Horvath, which is a very excellent accounting firm and said I wanted to
self-insure. I said, "I want to start right now taking money and putting it aside to
be my own insurance company." They said, "That is wonderful, but you cannot
do that except with after-tax money. The money you put aside you have to pay
income tax on as it generates income." I thought, how do the insurance
companies get away with it? He said that is because they do it correctly,
through what is known as I.B.N.R. I said, "What in the world is an I.B.N.R.?" It
means "incurred but not reported." That means they do the same thing--they
put the money aside; the money continues to grow and build, but they pay no

Page 10

income tax on it. They always generate losses because there is a claim around
the corner for which they are going to have to use that money to pay. We know
that something is incurred, but it has not been reported to us. I thought that was
absolutely ridiculous. So I looked into it and decided to start an insurance
company. I started it together with my partners Chris Searcy and Earl Denney,
and called it Rumger. If you take my initials which are R.M.M. and put a U
on it, you get Rumger. That is what some of the folks used to call me behind my
back affectionately, I hope. They would say, Rumger is going to do this or
that; so we named it Rumger. We went through and capitalized the company
with twice the capitalization of that required in Florida. We made it a stock
company in Florida, on par with Traveler's and the rest of them. We had
re-insurance with a $1.4 billion company, Franconia. We are writing at the
present time primarily trial lawyers. The reception that we have gotten has been

S: As an established firm, why did they cancel your policy?

M: You have got me. I guess we had had some losses in the past. One reason I
went into the business was I found out it was happening with trial lawyers all over
the state of Florida. They just could not get coverage. Now that I have
Rumger, it is interesting to notice what a little competition will do. Now the
insurance companies are coming back into the state and competing. I had a
letter from one of the larger companies saying, "This is a new company. I know
that they are well-intentioned people, but they do not have the experience and
they do not have the longevity." Concerning experience, we hired as president
the person who was in charge of all the hospital liabilities for the state of Ohio,
Duane Crone. Joe Lundy was vice-president in charge of claims of one of the
largest insurance companies in the country, and he is my consultant. We are
doing so well because we are back to the style of insurance business where we
are your partner and not your problem. We want to know about your lawsuit.
We are not going to cancel our policyholders we want to help them. We put
out a "risk of management" memo to all of our policyholders about how to stay
out of trouble. Every policyholder we have has personal contact with the
president. It is going to continue that way. If you have a problem, you call the
president. If you have a real problem, he is going to answer the telephone. If
you do not think we are doing our business right, we want to know about it.
Having been on both sides of the fence, with all this wealth of experience that we
have, I feel that we know what we are doing.

S: What is your position in the insurance company?

M: I am chairman of the board.

S: How do you fit that in with your trial work?

Page 11

M: I do not know. I think probably the busier you are, the more time you find that
you can devote. I will tell you what it does do: it puts you in a position where you
have to make decisions. You do not have time to procrastinate.
Procrastination is terrible. I am not talking about "shooting from the hip." I am
talking about getting the available information. Once you marshal the facts upon
which you are going to have to make a decision, make it! By mulling over it or
agonizing over it, people waste an awful lot of valuable time. I guess that is the
reason why I do not get befuddled with everything I am involved in. I have a
holding company, a leasing company, Palm Beach medical consultants we
have got an awful lot of things going on.

S: Is your firm now self-insured?

M: Well, no, it is insured by Rumger. We are one of Rumger's policyholders. We
believe in our product.

S: Getting back to the torts problems of medical liability insurance, you said if they
just left it alone, it would be better off. I know they have been studying that now.

M: Insurance companies have paid millions of dollars in false advertising. They
give you examples of cases which, if you track them down, you will find that they
are advertising falsely. They have used, unfortunately, members of a very
learned profession, the physicians, as their point people. They have gotten
them into a great frenzy, claiming that the lawyers have done it. We are perfect
targets. The frenzy has been created so that insurance companies can raise
their premiums inordinately. It is an abominable situation. I know. I am in the
insurance business. I can see that it is incredible. I generate losses I am
always going to be generating losses, because I am not going to pay any income
tax. I do not have to take my losses into consideration or report what I am
making on my invested assets. It is just on what my premium is. I know what
my administrative costs are. There was something in the paper that says that a
lawyer-owned insurance company had a substantial first quarter loss. That is
right, and I am going to have a substantial loss in the second quarter and next
year, and forever I hope.
This is old hat, but the insurance companies are not subject to anti-trust
laws. They may get together and dictate what is going to be in the policy and
how much they are going to charge all of them together. Now, if
Pan-American, Continental and Delta Airlines got together, they would put the
presidents in jail, all three of them, for anti-trust violations. Insurance companies
are not that way. I think the leadership of the medical profession, the F.M.A., is
beginning to understand where the problem really lies: the problem is regulation.
I am not a great supporter for regulation, but when you have a monopoly and
that is what you have when you have no anti-trust, like the phone company you

Page 12

have public service commissions and hearings. They have to bring the books in
to show how much money they make, how much money they lose, how much
they pay in dividends, how conservative they are in their expenditures and
expansion, and things of that nature.

S: So do you think the system is working as is?

M: Yes, but I am very concerned about the half-truths and the deliberate provocation
of these false issues by the advertisements of insurance companies that the
public has swallowed. Take contingency fees, for example. I have never had a
client object to a contingency fee that is, charging the client a portion of what
they receive. They have always been very grateful. I have had some whale-big
cases involving multimillions of dollars. Who is objecting? The vested interests
the manufacturers, the insurance companies of those manufacturers, corporate
I am an entrepreneur. I am in business, I have 118 employees, and I am
probably one of the biggest businesses in this county insofar as employees are
concerned. My attitude is different than what I know the attitude of corporate
America is. The contingency fee is being attacked because they do not want
lawyers to compete against those to whom they must pay a large hourly fee.
Right now I can match any lawyer they have out there--dollar for dollar, man for
man, and hour for hour. If they spend an hour, I will spend two; if they spend a
dollar, I will spend five if necessary. They want to do away with that system and
make it like it is in England. They look at it and said, "Oh, what a wonderful
thing in England." Well, if you are hurt or injured in England, the only way you
get into court I was just in a symposium in London a year or so ago on
comparative law is for your union or legal aid to do it. If your union does not
do it and legal aid does not do it, forget it. In these big cases when you take on
corporate America, like General Motors, they are going to spend you right out of
court. Do you think a union or legal aid is going to put up $100,000 for you?
No way. So that makes it very difficult. It saddens me. The individual is not
going to be affected that much. I can turn around tomorrow and represent a lot
of folks. I can generate activity for myself personally, but I look around and see
the guy on the street the consumer and I really feel that he has been done
wrong. The system is a great system, but it is being tinkered with terribly.

S: Let me go way back to your school days. You said that while most young
lawyers for a while were just carrying around briefcases, doing research, and that
type of thing, you were trying cases your first year out. Were you prepared for
that when you left law school?

M: Well, with my father's having been a lawyer, having been around the court house,
being in the service and probably having a little bit more maturity as a result of
that, I felt prepared. Then, of course, I had good teachers. The firm that I was

Page 13

working with, Bill Howell, Mal Kirby (Malcolm T. Kirby), and the senior Mr. Howell,
were just excellent teachers. The door was always open, and they gave me a
great deal of confidence. But I was scared. I had some funny experiences with
the judges when I was trying federal cases. Back then you could be called and
a clerk would say they have a bank robbery or there is an employee who is
pilfering funds who needs a lawyer, and you are it. They did not have a public
defender back then, you were appointed by the judges. So I was trying Mann
Act cases and all kinds of cases.

S: So a judge would just appoint a lawyer. Any lawyer?

M: Sure.

S: That was without pay?

M: Sure.

S: Could you refuse if you were busy with another case?

M: Well, you would have to have a damn good reason. You could say, "Judge, I
am starting a case Monday," and he could say, "Fine. I have another one for
you Tuesday." No, you did not get by with that. That was just a part of practice
back then. If you were a criminal lawyer and you really knew your business, you
would get called upon often.

S: Do you remember offhand when they started using public defenders?

M: I think it was Wainwright v.Gideon. Is that when it was?

S: I will check the date on that.

M: It was when you had to have effective counsel. It seems to me it was after 1966
or 1967.

S: Justice Atkins had just talked about that in an interview I did with him, and he
said that that was how he got work after he graduated. He looked around and
could not get on with a law firm because they did not need any help. Because
there were no public defenders, he just told the judges that he would represent
anybody. So he found work that way and got some experience under his belt.

M: Sure, that is right.

S: Coming straight out of law school, you went right with the firm.

Page 14

M: Right with the old Howell-Kirby firm.
S: Had you had any trial practice experience in school?

M: No, they did not have it. In torts, you had one little mock trial, but that was it. It
was nothing like they have today. What we used to call things are not called
that anymore. They did not even have the Uniform Commercial Code back
then, or the Uniform Deposition Act. There are so many uniform acts at the
present time, you only have one set of rules. We did not have them back then.
It was all trial by ambush. In criminal cases, you never knew what anybody had.

S: Would you say you liked things better the way they were then, or the way they
are now?

M: Oh, who knows? I would not exchange my experience for anything. One of
these days I would really like to send my transcripts from the University of
Alabama to the law school and change just the dates, and I bet I could not even
get in the front door. As a matter of fact, a year and a half after I was in
attendance and had successfully completed at least a year at the University of
Florida, the dean called me one day and said he did not have my SAT and asked
if I had ever taken it. I said yes. He asked if I remembered when. and I said,
"Yes, it was about 1951." He said, "You have to get it. We need it for your
records." It took another several months to get it. I came in with a bachelor's
degree from the University of Alabama and showed them my degree, and I was
in law school. They got my transcripts a little later on. This testing business
really disturbs me. I do not know what would be better, but everybody in the
whole university system is saying, "We have X number of merit scholars, and we
have this and we have that." Well, that is really good, but what are they going to
give back? What kind of people are they? How hard did they have to fight for
those grades? Are they grading easier today? With the emphasis they are
putting on SATs, I would bet that at least half, maybe three-fourths, of my
buddies who went to school with me and graduated in 1957 would not have been
accepted. Some of them have been extremely successful leaders in my state.
I really dislike the emphasis they put on grades, but I do not know the solution. I
do not know what the criteria should be.

S: They do try to look at more than just grades and test scores.

M: They do? Since when?

S: The admissions committee looks at backgrounds, etc.

M: But with their minimal requirements, if you have a C average, you do not have a
snowball's chance of getting into law school.

Page 15

S: Depending on all of the factors. They put those people into a big holding tank,
and they put the people with the really high undergraduate grades and test
scores together. If they are high enough, they are considered automatic admits,
if they want to go to the University. All those others receive much deeper
evaluation by the admissions committee as far as where they received their
degrees, what kind of work experience they have, their age and maturity.

M: Well, that is good. I am glad to know that they are doing that.

S: But it is hard, with that many people trying to get into school.

M: Has the number of applications been reduced somewhat?

S: We still receive a lot of applications. Nationally, the applications are down, but
our school still receives about seven applications for every one student that gets
in, so it is tough. The reason they want the top students is to keep the
standards up. They figure that with better students, the quality generally is

M: Oh, yes. They made no bones about that. I remember Dean Fenn, in
orientation in the old auditorium, said that in your senior year, on the second floor
there is a classroom where you will have to take a mandatory course in
whatever, and there are X number of seats in that classroom. You would look
around and say, there are a lot more folks here than that classroom takes. So
they were telling us in a subtle way that there was no way that we were all going
to graduate. The attrition in my class was bad. As a matter of fact, the last
semester we had a veteran a marine officer, as I recall bust out. I had
another friend who ultimately went to another law school. It was tough. I do not
care whether you were a veteran or what. You gave your professors proper
respect. You might be a little lax sometimes, but even out in a social
atmosphere, you never took liberties with your professors. Even though I had
been in the service and was an officer, I treated them with the utmost respect.
Of course, Mr. [Clarence John] TeSelle just scared everybody to death. In fact, I
just sent $5,000 to his scholarship. I carried Mr. TeSelle with me in the
courtroom for a long time. I would not dare go in his classroom or in a court
room without being prepared.

S: Why did the professors have that respect? Were they that good at teaching?

M: Just by the very nature of the times. It was a time when you gave your respect.
Even those professors whom we maybe thought less of, it was always "yes, sir"
and "no, sir." If they told you to do something, you did it. If you did not do it,

Page 16

they would bust you out.

S: So it was easy to get in, but it was not so easy to pass.
M: Oh, no. I think there were 137 students in the school when I started, and I know
there were about thirty-four in my class in January. We were a tight class. In
fact, I was looking at some old law school photographs the other day.

S: When people would bust out, would they come back?

M: No.

S: That was it?

M: Well, there was probation, but you never knew who was on probation. It was
pretty secretive. A lot of them left, and I am sure it was not just for lack of ability.
I do not know if there was any such thing as a student loan back then, but if
there was it was very nominal. It was a full-time job at least it was for me.

S: Did you do any outside work?

M: Yes. I used to work at Malone's Bookstore anytime that they could use me.

S: So you had a little extra time?

M: Yes, sure. During book rushes, Bill Zenah used to hire me bless him!
Malone's is not there anymore. It used to be a college bookstore.

S: Was that located on University Avenue right across from the school?

M: Yes.

S: Are there any other professors that you can think of who prepared you for

M: Sure. I think Professor [James Westbay] Day was a marvelous teacher. All of
my professors were good. Even though Karl Krastin gave me a D in
Constitutional Law, I still respected them all. They are responsible for my being
in a position to practice law.

S: There were quite a few new professors then. Toward the late 1940s, the old
guard professors were finally starting to retire.

M: Like Mandell Glicksberg. But he did not do much. Bob [Robert Barbeau] Mautz
was the assistant dean a real Yalie. I still remember a limerick about Dean

Page 17

[Frank Edward] Maloney. It went something like this:
There was a young man named Rex,
who had a small organ of sex.
When arrested for exposure,
he announced with composure,
"De minimus non curat lex."
Do you know what that means?

S: No.

M: "The law is not interested in trivialities." We all used to tell terrible jokes about
him, but he was a very well respected and extremely good professor. Dean
Fenn, of course, taught Future Interests.

S: So he did teach?

M: Oh, yes. I took a course with Dean Fenn. Danny [Vernon Wilmont] Clark in
criminal law was superb.

S: What kind of teacher was Fenn? He was such an imposing figure.

M: No-nonsense, absolutely no-nonsense. He would give it to you, and he would
expect you to get it. Throughout the course he might answer questions and
explain it to you. That was a very difficult class. P. K. [Philip Keyes] Yonge
taught Procedure. That was a relatively new course. The rules and procedures
course had just come out in 1954 when I started law school.

S: So he had to do a lot of preparation to teach.

M: Sure.

S: What about TeSelle? He had to be very old by then.

M: Yes, he was in a wheelchair, he had a cane, and he would chomp on that cigar.
He would say "MONT-gomery!!!!" I had been an officer in the Korean War with
responsibility for several hundred kids, putting them through their basics to go out
and get killed. But, boy, I tell you, I stayed away from him. We would get up
and recite the cases, and he would ask you questions. If you gave him an
answer he did not agree with, he would say, "SIT DOWN!!!!" You never knew
what the hell he was putting in his book he was always writing. I never knew
of anyone in that class who did not tremble. If you could ever push him around
in a wheelchair, he might pass you. He was unpredictable. But, boy, I will tell
you one thing, when I got out of that class and started practicing law, I sure knew
my evidence up one side and down the other. I think anybody who got out of

Page 18

that class had to know what they were doing.

S: So his methods worked?
M: They worked for me, I will tell you!

S: He was in a wheelchair by then?

M: Yes, he was crippled.

S: He had walked with one cane, and then two canes, and finally ended up in a

M: I think he got by a little bit with his cane, but most of the time he was in his

S: How did he get to and from school?

M: He would just appoint somebody from the class. Various persons from the class
would pick him up, put him in the car, and bring him to school.

S: Do you ever remember doing that?

M: No, I did not do that. Listen, he scared me to death! I did not even want him to
know who I was. As far as I was concerned, I wanted to be "Number Four" or
"Mr. X."

S: So he had students come to his house and help him?

M: Yes.

S: So he was physically handicapped, but that did not do anything to him mentally.

M: [Whistles] I should say not! You would think you knew the case so well, but
there would be an obscurity that would just pass you by. And, boy, would he
pick up on it. And he would tell stories about lawyers who had been friends of
his and what had happened in a particular case.

S: There were many new professors, many of the faculty members who had been
there since the founding of the college had retired.

M: Well, the only new ones I had were Vernon Clark, Jimmy Day, and, of course,
Deans Fenn and Maloney.

Page 19

S: Maybe I should not say "new," but new as of the late 1940s. Do you feel that
they were up on all the laws?

M: Oh, yes. I am so fortunate in my education; I really am.

S: Well, that is good to hear, because I have interviewed a lot of our alumni who
were here in the late 1940s, such as Chesterfield Smith, and they were saying
that some of their professors at that time needed to retire.

M: None of mine needed to retire. I wished some of them would have retired about
halfway through their class!

S: Were you a good student? Were you studious?

M: I was right in the flat middle of my class. Oh, yes, I studied I really and truly
studied. I set out a certain time of the day religiously that was my job. Some
people say they did not study that much, but I did. Whether it was necessary or
not, I do not know. But I will tell you one thing, my strong study habits in law
school stood me in very good stead once I got out. I was used to hard work. I
was used to concentration. I was used to putting things together. I was used to
running scared.

S: Was your wife supportive of you during those years?

M: Oh, absolutely. As I said, she worked as a secretary first and then for Dr. Justin
Harlow in the psychological clinic. That is what she did the last two years I was
in school.

S: You served on the Law Review. Did you have to be one of the top students?
How did you get onto Law Review?

M: Bob Smith, the former judge from the First District Court of Appeals who now
practicing in Tallahassee, asked me to write an article. I did, and he edited it.
Thanks to Bob Smith and his editing abilities, it was published. I do not think
grades had a whole lot to do with getting onto Law Review. I do not see how
they could if I was on it I was flat in the middle of my class, whatever the grade
level was. They gave us bar exams, which consisted of three days of writing,
never any multiple choice. I liked it because there are so many exceptions to
the rules on an objective test. I do not think you could get a good idea of how
much someone knows by a multiple-choice examination. I have seen some of
the multiple choices in national and so forth, and I could argue with anybody over
how one answer is better than the other.

S: Did you have to take the bar exam before you began practicing?

Page 20

M: Oh, yes. Those started around 1950.

S: Did they do the character background check on you?

M: Oh! I almost did not get in. I was in the Sigma Chi fraternity, and we used to
go get beer because Tuscaloosa was dry. For parties, we used to get in the car,
go get the beer, and bring it back. Well, a couple of us went down one time and
got picked up for speeding, or some minor infraction, and all that beer was in the
back. That is called violation of the prohibition law. It was a misdemeanor, and
no big deal. We drew straws, and I got the short straw and had to pay the fine
of $25 or so. On the application for the bar exam, there was a section where
you had to put down any infraction. The school really wanted to know about
that, and I was scared to death I would not get to be a lawyer because of that
one infraction.

S: After all the law school and everything?

M: That is right. I had to write a lengthy explanation. It was a misdemeanor, but
still violation of the prohibition law.

S: Did the students get together for social occasions?

M: Oh, yes. We had the John Marshall Bar Association. But we got together
primarily between class. There were just not that many of us. We would go out
for a smoke or whatever. You got very friendly, and you knew everybody in your
class intimately. You knew when someone was sick in the family. As I said, the
classes were small. You would sometimes have an hour or thirty minutes
between classes, and, instead of going in the library, you would stand outside
and pass the time by talking, so you got to know your classmates pretty well.
When you were a freshman, you would know the junior class. When you were a
senior, you knew your junior class. It was kind of funny: you knew a class above
you when you were a freshman and a class below you when you were a senior.
Then we would go out to Maloney's house once a month for ethics class.

S: At his house?

M: Yes. He would have speakers there, lawyers from different parts of the state:
Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa. Florida was not very big then.

S: Nothing like now. So you would go up to Maloney's house for that course. That
is interesting. Would any professors meet there, too?

M: No, I do not think any of the professors went. But he had guest speakers. He

Page 21

would give an assignment as far as ethics were concerned, and we would take
one of those aspects we never knew which one and have a round-table
discussion. Then some notable lawyer would get up and discuss it. Also, you
asked me another thing and I had forgotten. I likewise stayed in the Army
Reserve because you could go away for two weeks and make pretty good money
in the summertime.

S: Did you do any other work in the summers? Did you ever work for a law firm?

M: No, I went straight on through, start to finish.

S: You were pretty eager to get out. Was it because you were older?

M: That is right. T was anxious to get out. I had spent two years in the service,
and I was anxious to get on with my life. It cut a whole semester off, going
straight on through.

S: Were there a lot of veterans at that time?

M: Yes, there was quite a good number of veterans.

S: You told me about your first job and how you came to Palm Beach. Why did you
settle on West Palm Beach when you were moving the firm south?

M: Just because we were moving the firm south and I wanted a change. Of course,
Miami was the big city at that time. I did not want to go to Miami, but I had a
feeling that south Florida was on the go. It was; it was a fast track.

S: You mentioned the blue laws. What other early trials would you say had a great
impact on you?

M: Oh, gosh, I tried so many cases.

S: The really early ones.

M: You know, they all kind of blend in. I had so many experiences trying cases
when Justice Erlich was my adversary. I can remember the big cases that I
learned a lot from. I was pleased to have such adversaries as Ray Erlich,
Chester Bedell, Nathan Bedell, Walter Arnold. They were the big guys, the ones
with tremendous reputations. They were super lawyers. I remember the
judges Judge Cowboy Simpson, Charlie Lucky, Al Gressley, Spic Stanley,
Edwin Jones. All were wonderful, tough judges. Many of the judges around
when I first started practicing in Jacksonville have since died. We had the
intermediate appellate court. There was only one, and that was in Tallahassee.

Page 22

Justice Willington and Justice Carroll were sitting up there. We would go to
Tallahassee to appear before the [Florida] Supreme Court. At that time, the trial
lawyer who tried the case did the brief. Today, of course, I would not dare
because the appellate practice is so highly specialized. It was not the age of
specialization then. We did worker's compensation, subrogation work, and
automobile cases. I tried the first birth control pill case in the United States here
in Florida for G. D. Searle back in 1968. But when you really go back, I was
representing 7-11, physicians in medical malpractice cases big corporations. I
would go to their headquarters in Hartford and Philadelphia. Firestone v. Time
was a landmark case that I tried when I was down here in West Palm Beach.
That was about 1968 or 1969. That was a very famous case. It came out at
the same time as Gertz. It changed all the libel law.

S: What about classmates with whom you had close relationships?

M: Well, I knew the persons who were a little above me and a little beyond me at the
time. Reuben Askew, Lawton Chiles, Jose Gonzalez, William Fry, and Bill
Hendry were all in law school at the same time I was. My contemporaries now
are sitting on the bench or in politics in Washington, and some are retiring. Bob
Smith, in the First District Court of Appeals, practiced in the Bedell firm and is
now practicing in Tallahassee.

S: You had a good class.

M: Sure, a super good class. Most all of them have become quite successful
practicing law. I am very proud to have been in the class. As a matter of fact, I
am class representative, so I drop them a line a couple of times a year.

S: Well, you, too, are considered a very successful and prominent attorney. How
do you measure success?

M: What is success? Money? Reputation? I think the way you really ought to
measure success is by Charlie Cook Howell's saying, "Happy is the man who has
found his work." That is it.

S: It is clear you found yours.

M: Yes, I enjoy what I am doing. I enjoy planning with philanthropy. This firm is a
very generous firm in community, cultural, and educational affairs. We are very
active in our local community colleges, the local youth programs insofar as the
educational systems are concerned, the opera, and the ballet. We are very
motivated. In fact, we just gave $100,000 to the armory, which is now being
turned into a school, as a challenge grant. We give about a half a million dollars
or more away on a yearly basis for community projects.

Page 23

S: Why is that important to you?

M: Some people do not believe this, but it is true: because of the status of lawyers in
general, what we do is sponsor various programs. I do not like to advertise.
We just finished sending the high school debate team here to Harvard for a
debate competition. We were the predominant corporate sponsor for the
drug-free, alcohol-free graduation for six of our largest high schools here in the
county. That gets us a lot of press. We hold a spot on "The Today Show" for
the purpose of advertising "Arts Line," the Boca Raton Symphonic Pops, the Burt
Reynolds Institute of Theatre Training for the kids, and other various things. We
give them those spots. It says, "from a charitable grant from Montgomery,
Searcy, and Denney" no phone number, no address. We are not going to get
you to come in for a free consultation; we do not do that.
We used to give anonymously. For example, for many years we gave
money to the college for an educational chair, the Charles Cook Howell
Scholarship. It was $1,000 a year or a semester, I do not remember which. All
of it had to be anonymous because, otherwise, it was advertising. You could not
have your name on your door bigger than a certain number of inches.
We wanted to make every effort to elevate the profession the best we
could, and we have. Shutts and Bowen just did something for Four Arts over
here. Ricci and Roberts underwrites WXEL's (Public Broadcasting) "All Things
Considered" and the morning show there. They just did a public service about
our Constitution for the Fourth of July. All of a sudden, you find that public
broadcasting is being underwritten more and more by attorneys, and other
professions are following suit. What we are trying to do is make them follow our
lead. Chris Searg is on the board of directors of the Ballet Florida. Earl Denney
is on the Board of the Educational Foundation concerned with mini-grants for
kids' projects in things like high school biology class so that they do not have to
go through all the rigmarole and red tape to get a hundred dollars for a project.
The educational foundation has this money that they can dole out without a lot of
foolishness from the bureaucracy of government. So we have been extremely
gratified at the response that we have gotten. We continue to be as generous
as we can, and we like to share our success.

S: You personally have an interest in art, I can see.

M: Oh, yes.

S: I understand your wife is an artist.

M: Yes, she is. But when the children were growing up, she pretty much put it
aside. Now she is not active in actually painting anymore, but in collecting.
She is interested in museums and things of that nature. Those are interests we

Page 24


S: Considering the number of lawyers in the profession today and the number of
lawyers entering the profession, do you have any advice for young lawyers
starting out on what it takes to become "successful"?

M: Well, hard work, of course. You have to be dedicated. That old saying that law
is a jealous mistress is absolutely true. If you have a trial, for example, it has to
come before anything. Period. It is just like in athletics you run through your
pain. You just cannot be distracted. You have to be happy in what you are
doing. You have to choose out of the profession that aspect or area that is most
gratifying to you where work is fun, your avocation. But I think the most
important thing is being able to give your word so your adversary can go to the
bank on it. You start with your reputation from the minute you do your first piece
of legal work. You think always of your client, putting him first above everything.
I think that is the advice I would give: to know who you are representing. For
example, when I was representing the insurance companies, the cardinal rule
was that we were not representing the insurance company, but the insured, the
person who sits across your desk. People are not taught that anymore. They
look to the pocketbook, the person who is paying.
Being completely above board, if you do not have anything to apologize
for or anything to hide, you are in pretty good shape. If there is a question of
whether it is right or wrong, do not do it. That is how simple ethics is. If it
crosses your mind that there may be something unethical about it, do not do it
and you will not have any problem. I think the thing that I am in despair about
more than anything is the unfortunate relationships that some lawyers have with
others. There are lawyers in this town whom I can call and seal many millions of
dollars in an agreement over the telephone. You know it is done; it is a deal.
There are some lawyers who you make put everything in writing. They are
absolutely untrustworthy as far as I am concerned, and that is regrettable. That
is not the way it used to be. When I got out of law school, if you told another
lawyer something and it was a mistake, it came out of your pocket and you
suffered for it. But you never went back on your word. There were never any
misunderstandings or excuses. A man would tell you something and you could
depend on it. That to me is probably the most important piece of advice that I
could give to the young lawyer today.

S: That is sound advice. I read that you plan to become a counsel to the firm in
several years. Is that still the plan?

M: I would very much like to get out of the administration, which has been on my
shoulders. The administration is really a big part of the business. Chris Searcy
is now the president of the firm, and I am the chairman of the board. We have a
board of directors. I have such good young men and women that I really want to

Page 25

see what they are going to do with the firm. They have their ideas and interests.
I think this is the future. They must decide whether they want to grow, and the
direction that they want to go. Do we want to be a 200-man law firm? We
could be if we wanted to be. We could be a 100-man law firm in two years. I
personally do not want to do that. What are we going to do about space? We
own this building here, and we have got plenty of parking. Do we want to build
another building to fill it up more than it is? I do not know the answers to these
questions, but I really would like to be around to see what happens.

S: What about continuing to practice?

M: Oh, yes, I will continue to practice.

S: Forever?

M: For as long as I have my health and do not bungle things, as long as I have my
faculties about me and can match intellect. I will certainly not continue if I am
debilitated or not mentally alert. I hope my partners will have sense enough to
tell me when that time comes.

S: Any other activities or plans for the future?

M: No, just to continue to do what I am doing.

S: Do you take vacations?

M: Yes. Ordinarily my wife and I go to Europe for a month during the winter. But I
have not been able to this past year; I have just been too busy. I hope to get
away. We take short vacations. It is kind of catch-as-catch-can to regenerate.

S: What is the park you mentioned? Is that a green space park?

M: No, it is just our park. We own a lot next door which was vacant, and we
decided to make it pretty.

S: I will have to see that when I leave.

M: Yes, walk out there. We have a sculpture garden out there. I am very proud of
it. As I said, we have offices next door also.

S: I think that about wraps it up. Any other interests that you have cultivated? We
have talked about the arts and music. Sports?

M: Well, I played football, but I am not as interested in that as I am in civic service

Page 26

through education and cultural activities. Those are my two main interests. For
example, I sit on the Goodwill Board, the Community Chest, and the United Way.

S: Why have you maintained the interest in the law school? You serve as a class
representative and as a trustee.

M: Well, another thing that really upsets me is talking to some of my classmates who
do not speak highly of the school. I think to myself, if it were not for the
University of Florida, where would I be? I am so grateful to have been accepted
there. I am grateful for the education. It just pleases the living hell out of me to
get some of these big-time lawyers from New York down here who think we wear
bib overalls. It is very gratifying to know that my education is not surpassed by
any. When I first started practicing law with the Ivy League boys, they could not
hold a candle to us. We would kick their butts! I really am just so happy to
have been a part of this school. I owe it a great debt, and I think everybody who
gets out of that school should have that same feeling. There was nothing in
particular that happened to me there, but my goodness, it gave me the
opportunity. That is the thing about these doctors going on strike. I cannot
believe they would accept the right and privilege to go to medical school and then
turn around and strike. I just cannot understand that attitude. I owe the law
school a great debt of gratitude for enlarging and expanding my thinking and my
intellect, and for the discipline that I got. I was never much of a student before
law school. I probably had more hours and fewer quality points than anybody
who has ever graduated from the University of Alabama!

S: Well, it really helps the school to have that kind of support not only financial
support, but the involvement of the alumni and moral support.

M: You see, the University itself was kind of foreign to me, because I did not
associate with a fraternity or anything like that when I came back. After all, I
was older, and I was married. So my association with the University other
than through my wife Mary, who was working in the psychological clinic, was in
that very narrow area of the law school. That was the camaraderie, and that
was the group that took the place over all the other social activities. Nobody had
any money; we were all broke. I remember we used to go to the Suburbia
theater. On Friday nights, it was a dollar a show. A number of times I had to
borrow a nickel. One night I can remember going next door to a friend's house
to ask for a penny, I had ninety-nine cents! I borrowed a penny to go to a
movie! They were not the good old days, either.

S: Different times.

M: Yes, different times. But everybody was in the same boat. That was like the
middle of the Depression.

Page 27

S: The law school did have that camaraderie. That is one thing I have found in
talking with the alumni. They remember the school, and they remember their
professors. I think there was a closeness.

M: Sure thing. You wish you could go back and say thank you--like to old man
TeSelle. As a matter of fact, I think I wrote him a letter before he died. They
say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Maybe I just intended to do
that. He was certainly a force in my life, and so were the other professors. I do
not mean to diminish them in any way.

S: You have two children. Are they in college now?

M: Yes. My son is primarily interested in writing and poetry and things of that
nature. My daughter is going to the University of Georgia extension in
Columbus, Georgia. She hopes to be a lawyer.

S: What school is your son attending?

M: He is at a little community college up in Charlotte, North Carolina. I cannot think
of the name. I just wrote them a check I do not know why I cannot think of it.

S: I could go on and on, but I think that is a good stopping point. I would like to
take a couple of pictures if that is okay with you.

M: Sure.

[End of the interview]

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