Thursday, March 17, 2005

Judge remembered as fair, warm-hearted

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 03/11/05

Colleagues of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Rowland Barnes recalled him Friday morning as a kind, warm-hearted jurist who earned a reputation for fairness.

"He was one of the most gentle people I've ever known," said Superior Court Judge John J. Goger. "And he had just a wonderful common sense about him. He just wanted to be a judge."

A gunman shot and killed Judge Barnes in his courtroom Friday morning. A court reporter and sheriff's deputies were also shot and killed. Another deputy was wounded.

News raced by phone and e-mail through metro Atlanta's legal community.

Kim Dymecki, an Atlanta lawyer, said Barnes mentored her early in her career.

"He was very good and kind to the young lawyers. He was just the kind of guy who would foster you along," she said. "When he got appointed to the bench, everybody breathed a sigh of relief. We knew he would make a fine Superior Court judge."

She recalled a judicious man who always seemed to have a smile and hug when he wasn't on the bench.

Barnes has presided over several high profile trials and proceedings, including the vehicular homicide case against Dany Heatley, a forward for the Atlanta Thrashers. In February, he sentenced a woman accused of killing her newborn child to a medical sterilization to avoid prison. In 2002, he validated a proposed $822 million bond issue to fund a controversial transportation initiative.

Named to the Fulton bench by former governor Zell Miller, Barnes served as a Fulton magistrate judge and had a private practice in College Park, his home, before joining the court in 1998.

Gov. Miller was impressed with Judge Barnes' organizational skills and how he managed cases. Miller believed those attributes would serve him well on the Fulton bench, recalled Judge Cynthia Wright, who served as Miller's executive counsel.

"He always wanted to be a judge," said Wright. "I know he was so happy when he received the appointment."

Judge Barnes was one of the first to call Judge Tom Campbell when Campbell was named to the bench last year.

"He took me under his wing," said Campbell. "He never seemed to be impressed with himself as a judge. That never seemed to go to his head. He was very level headed, and a regular fellow.

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