In response to the recently published remarks by your columnist, Austin Rhodes, in the May 8, 2014, article titled “Officers of the Court or Good Ol’ Boys in Robes?,” I’d like to set the record straight.
Mr. Rhodes seems to suggest a link or an analogy exists between the alleged actions of Guardian Ad Litem Doug Nelson and the conduct of retired Richmond County Probate Judge Isaac Jolles while on the bench. Nothing could be further from the truth. The state of Judge Jolles’ competency during the twilight of his career has no remote connection to the veracity of the allegations brought against Mr. Nelson.
As a practicing attorney and nephew of Judge Jolles, I believe I am uniquely qualified to respond. While I never handled nor could I ethically handle any contested probate matters in front of Judge Jolles, I did have the opportunity on many occasions to observe my uncle’s demeanor, behavior and interaction with parties in a courtroom setting on uncontested matters. I found that he conducted himself at all times with integrity and in a professional manner. Judge Jolles had the rare gift of being able to put all parties at ease during some of their most difficult moments, such as at the time of a loss of a loved one. Often I recollect him concluding a courtroom proceeding by extending his condolences to a bereaved party and telling them that he hoped their year would end on a better note. Fellow jurists would indeed do well to follow the fine example he always set not only while serving on the bench but throughout his distinguished 50-plus years in the legal profession.
Judge Jolles has since retired and, along with his wife, has relocated to be closer to his children. For Mr. Rhodes at this time to make these hurtful claims against Judge Jolles at a time when the judge is not present to respond is both mean-spirited and undignified.
At no time does Mr. Rhodes offer any specific instances where cases were adversely affected by the conduct that he suggests. His examples regarding other judges are also both misplaced and taken out of context. Mr. Nelson’s conduct should be judged solely on its own merits rather than trying to link it to totally unrelated issues from the past in our judicial system which is composed of many dedicated and hardworking individuals whose sole focus is to see that justice is done.
I expected better from a Louis Harris Award Winner. Obviously Mr. Rhodes cares more about making a name for himself, promoting his ratings and column rather than adhering to the qualities that we expect in a professional journalist.
Nathan M. Jolles