Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse

I was delighted to learn September 7th, from two Memphians attending our St. Augustine 450th cake-cutting ceremony (meeting our amazing reform Mayor Nancy Shaver), that the Memphis, Tennessee courthouse where one of my law professors practiced and served as Circuit Judge is now the D'Army Bailey Courthouse.
Here's the article on the dedication of the Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse:

Shelby County Courthouse is now the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse

By Linda A. Moore of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal
September 22, 2015

Shelby County Courthouse is now the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse

In a historic event Friday witnessed by more than 200 family, friends and members of the judicial, legal and political communities, the Shelby County Courthouse was dedicated as the Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse, in honor of the late Circuit Court judge who died in July at age 73.

"It represents everything that D'Army worked hard for," said his widow, Adrienne Bailey. "Even though this is bricks and mortar, it's the deeper meaning, the sacrifice, the dedication that he gave all his life."

Judge Bailey was a civil rights activist and founder of the National Civil Rights Museum, buying the Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, on the very same courthouse steps in 1982.

He was elected Circuit Court judge in 1990, retired in 2009, and returned to the bench in 2014.

The street where the courthouse sits at 140 Adams also has the honorary name Judge D'Army Bailey Avenue, his son, attorney Justin Bailey, reminded the dedication attendees.

Since his father's death, a lot has been said about Judge Bailey's work as an activist, an actor, an author and an attorney, Justin Bailey said.

"Not as much about what it meant for him to be a judge. I don't think people had a full understanding of what it really meant for my dad to fulfill that calling," Justin Bailey said. "And I said it's a calling because it wasn't a job, it was something he took to heart."

Hopefully, future generations who walk through the courthouse will take the time to research who D'Army Bailey was, what he meant to the city and what the city meant to him, Justin Bailey said.

In August, the County Commission approved a resolution, sponsored by Terry Roland, to name the courthouse in Judge Bailey's honor.

"This is just my way of paying him back for the love and knowledge that he's given me," Roland said. "He is a historical figure here in Shelby County and Memphis and now this is just a little thing that will help remind folks on a daily basis of the achievements he's made here for us."

When his brother died, County Commissioner Walter Bailey said, he was taken aback and speechless to learn of Roland's resolution, which was supported by the commission and county Mayor Mark Luttrell.

"And that took a lot, quite frankly, for politicians to recognize another politician, whether it be a judge or whatever. Politicians are all usually rivals and jealous and envious," Walter Bailey said to a roar of laughter.

"I do want to say, D'Army would be indeed ecstatic to learn that this event was being staged here today in recognition of his achievements," Walter Bailey said.

Emceeing the event was Luttrell, who recalled meeting Adrienne and D'Army Bailey in 2002 while knocking on doors during his first campaign for sheriff. They invited him inside and gave him a tour of their home.

"We don't frequently name buildings after people, but when we do it's for very special people," Luttrell said.

During the event, the Bailey family was presented with a framed copy of the county resolution and a miniature of the new courthouse sign.

"It's an overwhelming feeling. He put his heart into it," said Judge Bailey's his younger son Merritt Bailey. "He deserves this honor. It's an exciting thing. It feels like a holiday."

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