Jerry Summers: Henry V. Grady - Prosecutor And Race Car Driver

Sunday, March 7, 2021 - by Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers
Jerry Summers

During the 1960s former assistant District Attorney Henry V. Grady was considered the premier criminal defense lawyer in the Chattanooga area.

Henry was not the typical defense counsel of his day.  He lived on Lookout Mountain and was a quiet but well qualified attorney who had the ability to carefully select a weak point in the prosecutor’s case to help his clients get acquitted of criminal charges.  He was born on August 20, 1915 and attended Webb School at Bell Buckle, Baylor School at Chattanooga, the University of Chattanooga, Vanderbilt University and graduated from Cumberland University Law School.  He served in the United States Navy in World War II in the Pacific and North Atlantic.

Prior to becoming a defense lawyer, Henry had been an assistant district attorney under District Attorney Fletcher R. Morgan during the years 1944-1946 and under Morgan’s successor, Corry Smith, for over a decade.

Morgan had established a team of experienced law enforcement officers designed to arrest and prosecute violators of the gambling laws in Tennessee.

The name of the squad became known as “Morgan’s Raiders” and Henry Grady was a vital member of the group and was considered its chief.

Criminal Judge Tillman Grant has stated that Henry Grady and E.B. Baker were the best lawyers to practice in his court when he became criminal judge after graduating from the Chattanooga College of Law.

Henry Grady also had a pastime that would eventually get him in trouble with his boss, Fletcher Morgan.

Henry raced stock cars under his regular name and his employer was not enthused when he found that one of his prosecutors was engaged in a sport that often included some drivers who raced stock cars on the weekend but made, transported and sold white whiskey during the week.

Some of the stock car drivers who engaged in the illegal practice of being involved with moonshine later became well known NASCAR drivers with the most famous being Junior Johnson of North Carolina.

When District Attorney Morgan discovered that Henry was racing stock cars he directed his young prosecutor to discontinue his weekend hobby because of the appearance of impropriety that it produced.

Henry being a creative young man agreed that he would discontinue racing under the name of Henry Grady to appease his boss.

However he was not willing to retire from his racing pastime and therefore according to rumors started racing under a new name, “Fletcher Morgan”.

He represented many high profile defendants in criminal cases including a co-defendant, Nicholas Tweed, in the jury tampering trial of Jimmy Hoffa, President of the International Teamsters Union. Tweed was acquitted – Hoffa was convicted.

When he died of cancer on November 25, 1963 one of the local trial judges that he practiced before, stated, “I have never met a more competent and honorable man in his profession than Henry Grady.”

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Jerry Summers

(If you have additional information about one of Mr. Summers' articles or have suggestions or ideas about a future Chattanooga area historical piece, please contact Mr. Summers at jsummers@summersfirm.com)

           


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