Emory Report
March 21, 2005
Volume 57, Number 23


Emory Report homepage   >   Current issue front page

March 21, 2005
Law alum Barnes killed in Fulton courtroom shootout

BY Chanmi Kim

The Associated Press called him a man who “could laugh at himself.” The New York Times reported he was a “genial, plain-talking extrovert with a Kris Kringle appearance and a penchant for idiosyncratic sentencing.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said he was a gentle man with a “frivolous, fun-loving side” who “did his own yard work and often lent a hand or offered advice.”

Flags at Emory flew at half-staff in memory of Judge Rowland Barnes, Fulton County Superior Court judge and School of Law alumnus, who was shot and killed in his courtroom, March 11.

“Our city and our campus community are greatly diminished by the loss of this accomplished and caring man,” President Jim Wagner said in a written statement released March 13. “All of us at Emory have been shocked and saddened.”

A 1972 graduate of the School of Law, Barnes was appointed to the bench by then Gov. Zell Miller in 1998. He received his undergraduate degree in economics from Lebanon Valley College (Penn.), and additional degrees from George Washington University.

“Rowland Barnes was a good judge and a good person who devoted his career to serving the public,” law Dean Tom Arthur said in a statement released March 14.

His death is a great loss “for the Emory Law community and for everyone in Georgia who values the fair and compassionate administration of justice,” Arthur said.

Barnes joined the Emory faculty this spring as an adjunct professor in the law school, where he taught a medical malpractice litigation course, a trial techniques class that teaches students how to try civil cases. Prior to teaching at Emory, he had often served as judge in student mock trials.

According to School of Law Professor Gary Smith, Barnes was a “fine, outstanding individual” who was loved by all. Smith said he was “confident that students felt like [Barnes] was doing everything in his power to work with them in every way to understand the material.”

Barnes, along with his court reporter, a sheriff’s deputy, and a customs agent, was shot and killed March 11. The suspect in those killings, Brian Nichols, who was on trial for rape in Barnes’ courtroom, was captured the following day after a statewide manhunt. Barnes is survived by his wife, two brothers, two daughters and four stepchildren.

“The Emory law school community is very proud that Rowland Barnes was one of ours,” Arthur said. “He will be sorely missed.”