My knowledge of Sally Quillian Yates came in three phases. She was a law student a year behind me at the University of Georgia. We all knew she was from a family of prominent lawyers, chiefly her father, Chief Judge Kelley Quillian of the Georgia Court of Appeals. Her grandmother was the first female lawyer in the Northern District of Georgia.
Sally was smart and attractive, and we all knew she had a bright future ahead of her.
In law school, on Valentine's Day, I bought the mushiest Valentine's Day card I could find, handwrote some very "sincere," even mushier sentiments, that I was a "secret admirer" -- and then went to the Bel-Jean Copy Center and made color copies of the card, inside and out, and put a copy in the mailbox of every female law student in all three classes at the law school, urging them not to reveal my "secret crush." This went to every woman in the law school.
So, I can say under oath that I once sent Sally Yates a very mushy romantic valentine and it would be a true statement.
Sally was a much more serious law student than I was (as if the previous story didn't give that away already). I was interested in coming home to Ringgold, Ga., and getting established and then entering public service.
Sally was on Law Review and making top grades. She lost her father while we were in school. She kept her focus and graduated with honors. I put up a black velvet portrait of Elvis in the law school, after entering the school at night, with a certain future judge who I can't name but who married Sharon Smith-Jordan.
The next time I encountered Sally, it was after I had become friends with her husband, Comer Yates. Comer was from the Atlanta area, but is a descendant of the Yates family of Woodstation, who were pioneers in Catoosa County, where I'm from, so we hit it off. Comer and I were friends in Georgia politics, both running for the U.S. Congress, both unsuccessfully. I never told him that I had sent his wife a very mushy and heart revealing valentine.
Comer is now head of the Atlanta Speech School, and is an all-around, really good guy. He and Sally have kids and are great parents.
A few years ago, many of you first followed my legal adventures in Murray County, where a woman I was representing made allegations that she had drugs planted on her car and was falsely arrested. I knew that the judge had something to do with it, and announced at her bond hearing that we were going to prove it, asking the authorities to bring in the GBI and the FBI to back up my allegations.
The U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia was Sally Yates. The federal investigation seemed to drag on forever, and some issues with my client made it seem that it might be dropped entirely. I wrote to my law school friend, Sally Yates, but this time it was a serious letter.
I told her that I had greatly admired her work prosecuting terrorists and public corruption, but that Murray County was in a bad way and needed to see some justice in the seemingly never-ending investigation of the judge and sheriff's deputies implicated in the bizarre case. Professional to a fault, she never wrote back. Nor should she have. A chatty conversation between the two of us could have compromised the federal investigation, which in fact was quietly continuing.
She put her top people on the case, and they brought four indictments against the judge, the officers and the employee of the judge who had planted the drugs on my client. Two months before the trial, my client got arrested again, this time for her own wrongdoing, but it was obvious that she was still being targeted to damage her credibility, as she now was a federal witness weeks away from testifying against the judge, who was denying everything.
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates, still not having acknowledged either my letter (which she appropriately should not have, or my Valentine from 1984, which was also understandable, because she's married now, you know, and I'm friends with her husband -- it would be very awkward), sent her team of prosecutors to have a frank talk with us, and they carefully made the decision to go forward with the prosecution of the judge.
As it turned out, the second arrest of my client actually had the reverse effect for those hoping to damage her credibility. It actually made my client understand and accept her issues, and made her a much better federal witness. Yates' team successfully prosecuted the judge (the only one who went to trial, the others having pleaded guilty) and his conviction and sentence was recently upheld on the counts relating to my client.
As I saw the recording today of White House Press Sean Spicer trying to be dismissive of Sally Yates, it made me laugh. His words sounded tinny and weak compared to how former acting U.S. attorney general Sally Yates handled the U.S. Senate committee. And before this, wasn't he the White House Easter Bunny? Take a seat, Sean Spicer. You are outclassed, out-smarted and outgunned at every turn here, brother.
Sally Yates did not ask for this notoriety. As usual, she has simply been quietly doing her job. She was doing her job when she warned the White House that our national security advisor was potentially compromised as it appeared that he was a foreign agent. Seriously? You can't make this stuff up. A foreign agent. In the White House.
The federal courts have vindicated her for standing up to the President's demands as to his failing executive orders, meaning that there was validity to her position all along.
So there you have it. I am a fan of Sally Yates and have been for over thirty years. And she has earned my respect by her demeanor, her professionalism, and her smarts.
If you feel the need to attack one of the greatest public servants I have ever seen come out of Georgia, do it on your own page. Have at it, but I will not tolerate it here. Unfriend me if you must. This woman is serious, and sincere, and a credit to our state and nation.