The late, great Wayne Emmons
My law partner and mentor in the early nineties, Wayne was a tremendous man, not only in stature. We practiced criminal law all over the Mid-South and brought justice to small and large communities alike, never taking the convenient way out. I still practice all over to this day. Wayne was an excellent jurist and trial lawyer, he also jump started my career in both State and federal appeals. Though an accomplished media personality, actor, stand up comedian, preacher, etc. to me Wayne was at his greatest defending the Constitution. His tongue was so buttery everyone wanted to share biscuits with him when he finished orating. But, despite his many talents his thoughtfulness and heart is what made him standout. He thought deeply about society, policy, the law and it’s consequences. It is even reflected in his recordings and comedy. A renaissance man beyond definition, he saw the good in others no matter their mistakes and refused to label them as well.He also strongly believed in the Constitution’s limits on government intervention into citizen’s affairs and the inherent dignity conveyed to all.
He was also very kind and helpful. We sometimes took payments in home baked pies from the poor. Though busy being a lawyer, actor, stand-up comedian, etc. he still took time to occasionally preach at the Unitarian Church. He was also an ardent follower of Depak Chopra. He had an intense understanding of human nature and respected it. This is probably one reason he was one of Memphis’ greatest trial lawyers. He could convey the humanity in the saltiest of characters. That’s probably why he was chosen for the John Grisham movies. In the old days at George and David’s, downtown Memphis’ lawyers and judges would come to argue law and policy with him over breakfast. Those are some of my fondest memories, as a young lawyer I would just soak up the arguments of those twice my age.
Wayne will be sorely missed. I so wish there were more like him in his generation and younger ones. I would encourage all young people to study the life of one of Memphis’ greatest jurists and his many famous cases and open your mind to life.
See also Tuesday’s Memphis Commercial Appeal
Randall B. Tolley