Bobby Lee Cook, a highly respected and internationally known trial attorney widely believed to be the inspiration for the NBC TV series “Matlock,” (1986-92) will deliver the Gonzaga University School of Law’s Luvera Lecture at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30 in the Barbieri Courtroom of the GU Law School.
This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP or for more information, contact Susan Franklin at (509) 313-3738 or via e-mail.
Cook, who has practiced law since 1949 from the small town of Sommerville, Ga., is a study in contrasts as he balances a highly accessible, down-to-earth persona in this small town while operating an international law practice at the highest level. Representing clients ranging from moonshiners to high-powered socialites, Cook has tried thousands of cases, including more than 300 murder trials, in more than 40 states. At age 82, Cook’s pursuit of justice for his clients remains as vigorous as ever and he is still considered one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the nation.
The TV show Matlock, in which Andy Griffith played the starring role of Ben Matlock, was reportedly to have been based on Cook’s practice. Cook’s defense of Savannah, Ga., socialite Jim Williams helped bring to life John Berendt’s true-crime classic, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
In 2001, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers under the guidance of Antitrust Lawyer Nick Lotito, commissioned a portrait of Cook from the international portrait artist Trevor Goring. The portrait now hangs in the Georgia Supreme Court building in Atlanta, a testament to the enormous respect for one of Georgia’s native sons. At the unveiling of the painting, Cook was heard to say, “It’s better to be hung IN the Georgia Supreme Court than BY the Georgia Supreme Court.”
Statistics on Google Web, image and news searches show more traffic for Bobby Lee Cook than such mythic figures as Atticus Finch, Clarence Darrow and the Babylonian lawmaker Hammurabi.
“If you can railroad a bad man to prison, you can railroad a good man,” said Cook. “That’s why we should always vigorously fight for the constitutional rights of even those who are most despised in our communities.”
The Luvera Lecture Series was created by an endowment gift from the Luveras. Paul N. Luvera received a law degree from GU Law School in 1959 and gave the first address of the series in 1990. Wife Lita Barnett Luvera received a GU law degree in 1977. Both are distinguished Gonzaga alumni and Lita serves on the Gonzaga University Board of Regents.