He's genteel - and tough

Courts: Ray Lewis' Atlanta lawyer, Edward T.M. Garland, is a business partner of Hank Aaron and a big hit with most of his clients.

February 05, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

Ray Lewis' Atlanta-based defense attorney is a well-regarded trial lawyer known for defending his clients' reputations through the media and winning over juries with a likable, low-key manner.

Edward T.M. Garland, 58, is also a business partner of home run king Hank Aaron, who referred the Ravens to Garland, according to sources familiar with the case.

Fellow attorneys say it was a good recommendation.

"Ed has tremendous trial skills. He has a wonderful way of communicating with both judges and jurors," said Wilmer "Buddy" Parker III, a defense attorney who, when serving as a federal prosecutor, faced off against Garland.

He and other acquaintances describe Garland as friendly and outgoing, but lacking the swagger of other high-profile attorneys.

"His style is the genteel, Southern approach," Parker said.

Garland's late father, Rueben Garland, is a legend in Atlanta legal circles. The elder Garland was a flamboyant jurist who was occasionally held in contempt by judges for his courtroom theatrics, but is also remembered for defending black defendants at a time when other attorneys would not in the segregated South.

Ed Garland's offices are a few miles from the Lewis crime scene, in an upscale Atlanta neighborhood. They are spacious and tastefully decorated with original art, including a bronze sculpture.

Garland inherited from his father a grand, Italian renaissance mansion just down the street from the official residence of Georgia's governor. It was used during the filming of the movie "Driving Miss Daisy," Parker said.

Garland owns a large sailboat that he docks in the Bahamas and Gulf of Mexico -- depending on the season -- and is host to an annual Christmas party that ranks among the most anticipated social events in Atlanta's legal community.

Although not known for his political activism, Garland held a fund-raiser a few years ago for Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

Garland was born in Atlanta and received his law degree from the University of Georgia in 1965. He is married and the father of three grown children.

He specializes in criminal defense, business litigation, personal injury, wrongful death and product liability cases.

"He's deadly in a courtroom," said Jerome J. Froelich Jr., another Atlanta defense lawyer and former assistant U.S. Attorney. "You think he's a nice guy, and then he cuts up a witness in cross-examination."

His partner, Don Samuel, 46, is considered the more studious of the two and a good complement to Garland's intuitive style.

"Ed will know the law, but not the cases and everything. Don is like talking to an encyclopedia," Froelich said.

Garland is a partner of Aaron in an Atlanta-area BMW auto dealership, Froelich said.

Aaron, a friend of Ravens owner Art Modell, was asked by a Ravens executive to recommend a lawyer for Lewis, according to sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Aaron is an executive with the Braves, whose uniform he wore when he set baseball's record for career home runs.

He did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

Shortly after joining Lewis' legal team this week, Garland called a news conference -- carried live on CNN -- in which he vigorously defended Lewis. Such a public response is part of Garland's style and is designed to put pressure on police, say attorneys.

"He'll defend a client any way it takes," Froelich said.

Among Garland's other cases are some of Atlanta's most sensational, including a defense of the 15-year-old suburban Atlanta youth accused last year of shooting and wounding six high school classmates. The youth has been charged with aggravated assault and cruelty to children.

Garland won an acquittal of Jim Williams, charged in the Savannah killing chronicled in the book and movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

He also defended Eduardo Martinez Romero, a Colombian extradited to the United States and accused of laundering drug profits for the Medellin cocaine cartel. Romero ended up pleading guilty and received a six-year prison sentence.

More on Lewis

Ray Lewis' lawyers begin effort to gain player's release from jail on bail. 1a

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