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I just read that retired Federal Judge Marvin Shoob died. He was 94. And he was, in my opinion, a thoroughly decent jurist and a gentleman.

Marvin Shoob, the embodiment of an independent federal judiciary and a jurist who consistently protected the powerless and disadvantaged, died Monday at his home in Atlanta. He was 94.

Shoob retired in February 2016 as a senior U.S. District Court judge after 36 years on the bench.

“It has been an honor and privilege to serve as a United States district judge,” Shoob wrote in a letter, announcing his retirement. “For this opportunity, I am most grateful.”

The AJC recounted some of his more famous decisions, decisions that don’t all necessarily square with my legal outlook:

Among his most noteworthy decisions, Shoob ruled licensed firearms owners could not carry guns into parts of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; Fulton County had to improve conditions at his overcrowded, dangerous jail; Cobb County had to remove its Ten Commandments display at its courthouse; and Georgia had to place residents with development disabilities into community settings, not making them institutionalized — a ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1999.

I disagre(ed) with all of these except for the jailhouse case. That’s okay, as minds can differ, and do. However, it is not the disagreements I remember, but my single case before Judge Shoob, my only case ever in the Northern District.

My guy was sued in the N. Dist. over a copyright issue. Due to his misplaced reliance on the lies of a certain unnamed mega-transnational insurance company, he found himself with a default judgment. He also found himself in a court far from home and far from where the alleged transgression supposedly happened.

Judge Shoob did three things for us: First, he “opened default” as a matter of fairness; he believed the maxim that “justice abhors a default”. It was the decent and legal thing to do. Second, he transferred the case, at our request, to the Southern District – where it really belonged. Home field advantage is real and never hurts. Third, he put a verbal whipping on the opposing counsel, who had been until that point … haughty to say the least.

Once back home, we wrapped the case (a really ridiculous but eye-opening matter) up with a neat little settlement. That was … seven, eight? years ago??? Without Judge Shoob’s interventions, the case might still be in court.

Come to think of it, he’s the same federal judge that slapped down Georgia’s illegal “implied consent” law, not too long ago, as a violation of Due Process. Another sound decision for freedom.


Rich Addicks/AJC.

God’s speed, Marvin Shoob.