Words cannot express the grief that we feel at the Superior Court at the loss of our mentor, colleague, neighbor and friend, Harris Hines. Justice Hines is at the heart and soul of the Cobb legal community, the epitome of a jurist who leads his community by example.
Flags will fly at half-staff over the Cobb Superior Courthouse this week in commemoration of Justice Hines’ exemplary life, his dedication to justice, and his love of this community. Those flags will pay quiet tribute to the man who dedicated 50 years to the practice of law, and to the judge who consistently stood for justice for his entire career.
Abraham Lincoln said, “As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.” Justice Harris Hines embodied this ideal — that lawyers can make peace, give wise counsel, settle disputes — and be good men. He was just that, a good man, full of the spirit that comes from a good heart.
We celebrate Justice Hines, even as we mourn our loss. His was a life well lived. His half-century of contributions to the legal community, including his years on the Superior Court of Cobb County, will forever be remembered. But a life such as his is more than the contributions he has made professionally. He made his mark on the people with whom he came into contact.
I never saw Justice Hines without a welcome smile, a sincere inquiry about someone’s life or family and a humorous story — or two. He always made sure that we appreciated the history of the courts and the community, and he related that history in a meaningful way.
Justice Hines was, first and foremost, a gentleman. He held the pillars of chivalry, kindness and respect in highest regard. Family, faith and fidelity were his hallmarks. If he was your friend, you knew it. And he made fast friends.
For all his accomplishments, Justice Hines regarded marrying his beloved wife, Helen, as his greatest. His love for her was outspoken and true and you could not know him without knowing that one truth. I never heard him lauded for any accomplishment that he did not pay tribute to his wife. I respect a man like that, a man who honors and loves his wife.
In Micah, the prophet says to the people of Israel:
“He has showed you O man what is good, and what does the Lord require of you, but to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Ask anyone who practiced in front of Harris Hines as a judge, and they will undoubtedly speak of each of these qualities: justice, mercy and humility. Justice Hines understood the intrinsic value of them all. He was, and remains, a man of the highest character.
As I reflect on Justice Hines, my friend and mentor, today I come back to the same conclusion each time. It is the highest praise I can give any man: Harris Hines was one of those rare men who remind me of my father. I am grateful to have known him, and I shall never forget him.