Phipps' portrait a deserved honor

The portrait of Georgia Appeals Court Presiding Judge Herbert E. Phipps that was placed Monday in the Dougherty County Judicial Building was a well deserved honor for a gentleman who has had a long and distinguished legal career.

The portrait, which was unveiled Monday, was commissioned by Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity Delta Delta Boule' Chapter, of which he is a member.

Phipps, who has served on the Appeals Court since 1999 and who is unopposed this year in his bid for a new six-year term on the court, got his start in the Dougherty Judicial Circuit, first as an attorney with civil rights lawyer C.B. King and then with a dozen years in his own practice. Serving as a magistrate and associate judge of Dougherty for eight years and Juvenile Court judge for seven while in his solo practice, Phipps was tapped by then-Gov. Zell Miller to serve on the Dougherty Superior Court bench in 1995.

He won a four-year term as Dougherty Superior Court judge in 1996, but was called to the higher court before he could complete his first full term when then-Gov. Roy Barnes named him in 1999 to the Georgia Court of Appeals, where he has served since. In 2010, he became the presiding judge with the Appeals Court.

It's not surprising that two different governors recognized the quality of the man and his work, and gave Dougherty County and then the state the benefit of having him act in greater roles.

In 2006, Phipps was recognized by the State Bar of Georgia with the Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service. The next year he was inducted into the Society of Benchers of Case Western Reserve School of Law, the Cleveland, Ohio, school where he earned his juris doctorate in 1971 and was editor of the Law review. Phipps was awarded a Master of Laws in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004.

He serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, and is a member of the Georgia Committee on Access and Fairness in the Courts, the Georgia Supreme Court Pandemic Commission and the Judicial Council of Georgia, where he serves as chairman of the Council's Committee on Court Reporting Matters.

Phipps has served on Georgia's Judicial Nominating Commission, the Georgia Supreme Court Commission on Racial and Ethnic Bias, and the Georgia Indigent Defense Council Advisory Committee. He is a former member of the State Bar Board of Governors and past President of the Dougherty Circuit Bar Association. He is a past-president of the Lawyers Club of Atlanta.

It's been a stellar legal career for the Baker County native.

John J. Ellington, the chief judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals, said, "It's a long way from Baker County to becoming the presiding judge of Court of Appeals. This man has made the journey with class, hard work, excellence and sacrifice."

Those words are appropriate in describing Phipps, who has an astute legal mind and who has always projected the image and wisdom that we should all want from those who serve on the bench.

-- The Albany Herald Editorial Board