Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice and Emory alumnus Harris Hines (65C, 68L) died on Nov. 4 at age 75, according to his son Hap Hines.
Harris Hines died in a car crash on I-85 North near downtown Atlanta when he was driving back from his granddaughter’s choir concert, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. His wife, Helen Hines, was in the car with him and survived the accident, according to a Georgia Supreme Court statement. No other vehicles were involved in the accident. Harris Hines was driving when the vehicle left the lane and flipped, according to reports.
After serving as a judge for 44 years, Harris Hines retired from his position as chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court in late August. Former U.S. President and then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter appointed him to Cobb’s State Court in 1974, and former Georgia Gov. Zell Miller appointed him to the Georgia Supreme Court in 1995. Harris Hines was the first Cobb resident to be elected chief justice, according to the Marietta Daily Journal.
Harris Hines remained involved with Emory, his alma mater, throughout his professional career, hosting sessions of the court at the Emory School of Law, speaking at professionalism sessions, participating in swearing-in sessions for new lawyers and judging moot court competitions. In 2017, when the law school was celebrating its centennial anniversary, Harris Hines was recognized as one of the “Emory Law 100” graduates who made significant contributions to the law school, broader University or legal practice, according to a Nov. 5 email to Law School staff members sent on behalf of Emory Law School Interim Dean James B. Hughes.
Hughes called Harris Hines “an exceptional person who committed himself to the causes he believed in” in an email statement provided to the Wheel by Emory Law School Director of Communications A. Kenyatta Greer.
Harris Hines lived his life promoting morality and integrity in the people around him, both inside and outside the courtroom, his son said.
“He always preached to me to be kind to others,” Hap Hines said. “That’s how he treated his courtroom, and that’s how he treated his friends, how he treated everybody.”
Hap Hines said his father attended every single one of his college football games when he played for the University of Georgia, and that one of his favorite pastimes was visiting baseball parks and attending sporting events with family.
Harris Hines’ colleagues, including Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Harold D. Melton, grieved the loss.
“Former Chief Justice P. Harris Hines was a giant of a man,” Melton said. “Because of the love he so freely extended to others, he was loved and cherished by every member of this Court, by our staff and by just about every person who ever met him.”
In a Nov. 4 tweet, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal expressed sorrow over Hines’ death and said he helped to make Georgia a better state, calling him “a brilliant legal mind and devoted public servant.”
Harris Hines is survived by his wife Helen Hines, Hap Hines, daughter Mary Margaret Doyle and four grandchildren.
The Hines family is still determining the details for his memorial service, according to Hap Hines.