Judge John Godbold

Posted: Mon, 01/04/2010 - 16:05

The country lost one of its great leaders on December 22, 2009 when Judge John Godbold passed away at the age of 89.  He had a remarkable career which included time as an outstanding trial lawyer and over forty years of service as a United States Court of Appeals Judge. 

Judge Godbold was born in rural Alabama in 1920 and attended public schools in Selma.  In 1940, he earned his B.S. degree from Auburn University where he was editor of the school newspaper, The Plainsman.  After serving in the Army in Europe during World War II, he earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1948 and was admitted to the Alabama State Bar. Judge Godbold began practice with Richard T. Rives in Montgomery, and in 1949, he became a partner in the firm of Rives and Godbold.  President Johnson appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1966.  He is the only person to have ever served as Chief Judge of two federal circuits, the Fifth and Eleventh.  He was also the Director of the Federal Judicial Center.

In 1990, Judge Godbold was named the Leslie S. Wright Distinguished Professor of Law at Cumberland School of Law where he taught appellate advocacy.  He was a great lawyer and a judge but more importantly a great human being who treated everyone with respect and kindness.  He was a wonderful role model to all who knew him, and he will be missed.