About the William A. Bootle Inn of Court
The William A. Bootle Inn of Court was established in 1999 in
Macon, Georgia, with the close cooperation of the bench and bar of
Macon and the Walter F. George School of Law of Mercer University.
We have over 100 members, including thirteen third-year law
students. The Inn meets as a group five times a year and is divided
into six pupillage groups for purposes of programming and other
About Judge Bootle
The Inn's namesake, the Honorable William Augustus Bootle, died
in 2005 at the age of 102. The following is the text of one
of the obituaries of Judge Bootle:
Judge William Augustus Bootle -- Mercer alumnus, former Law
School Dean and professor, and a Lifetime Trustee -- died at his
home in Macon early today.
He was born on Aug. 19, 1902, in Walterboro, S.C. He moved with
his family to Nashville, Ga., in 1917, then to Reidsville
approximately six months later. He graduated from Mercer University
in 1924 with a Bachelor of Arts and received his law degree in 1925
from Mercer Law School (now the Walter F. George School of Law at
Mercer University), one of the oldest law schools in the country.
Judge Bootle's many contributions to the University include serving
as a Law School professor and then Dean from 1933-37. He is a
lifetime Mercer Trustee, after serving five years on the Board.
"Gus" Bootle was appointed U.S. Attorney in 1928. He was later
appointed U.S. District judge by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in
1954. During his distinguished legal career, he ordered the
admission of African-American students to the University of
Georgia, desegregation of the Bibb County Schools and access of
African-Americans to the polls.
One of his numerous high-profile cases occurred in 1960 with the
desegregation of the University of Georgia. When Hamilton Holmes
and Charlayne Hunter stepped onto the UGA campus on Jan. 9, 1961,
it was due in part to Judge Bootle who had issued a 28-page ruling
in the case of Holmes v. Danner (UGA registrar Walter Danner). He
found that Holmes and Hunter "are fully qualified for immediate
admission" and, what's more, "would already have been admitted had
it not been for their race and color."
While Judge Bootle stayed his own ruling allowing the state the
opportunity to appeal, he later granted a temporary injunction
restraining the governor from cutting off funds to the University.
Vernon Jordan, who was a law clerk for Holmes-Hunter legal team,
led the victory chant: "From Bootle to Tuttle to Black and
Judge Bootle was also one of many prominent Americans who called
on President Clinton to grant Dr. Preston King a pardon (granted in
2000). Judge Bootle had presided over the original case in 1961,
where King was charged with draft evasion and sentenced to 18
months in prison. Judge Bootle remarked with candor, "Looking back
at the whole picture, the case would never have arisen if not for
racial discrimination." "He has paid a big price," Judge Bootle
wrote in a letter to President Clinton. "To lock him up today would
amount to overkill."
In June 1998, the federal courthouse in Macon was officially
renamed the William Augustus Bootle Federal Building and United
In April 1999, the Mercer University Board of Trustees voted to
endow a teaching chair - focused on professionalism and ethics in
the practice of law - after Judge Bootle. In presenting Judge
Bootle with a framed resolution signifying the chair named in his
honor, University President R. Kirby Godsey stated, "He has
provided the highest moral standards and integrity as a leader of
this University for three-quarters of a century."
Judge Bootle's wife of many years, Virginia Childs Bootle,
preceded him in death on June 24, 2004.