Memories of The Honorable Robinson O. Everett

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"Judge Everett was truly a giant — in academia and in the practice of law — but also one of the most kind-hearted people anyone could hope to meet. I feel blessed to have known and to have been acquainted with him through the Inn of Court. When I look back on my law practice and think of persons that I have known and whom I most admire, Judge Everett will be at the top of the list. May he rest in peace forevermore." — Heydt Philbeck


"The passing of Judge Everett is a great loss to the Law School and to everyone who was privileged to know him. On a personal level, I grieve losing my mentor and dear personal friend. I worked for him in the summer of 1973 and then as his research assistant during my last year at Duke Law School. During that time and in the over 35 years since I graduated, I maintained a continuous and close bond with him and his family, getting together regularly at law school functions and American Bar Association meetings. He and Lynn also honored my wife Zully and me by attending our wedding in Miami.

Throughout all those years, he always showed himself to be the epitome of the devoted husband, father, and son; the dedicated professor, lawyer, and judge; and the caring and empathetic friend who had a boundless concern for doing good for others.

Zully and I will cherish many happy memories of our times with "Cousin Robinson," and we add our voices to the many who offer their tributes to this remarkable man. Judge Everett, thank you for everything."
— Judge Ira Sandron '74


"This is indeed sad. [Judge Everett] was the example of what a Duke lawyer and academic should be. At our 45th [Reunion] in April, we were blessed to have him join the Class of '64 for dinner. He was in good spirits and, as always, a great pleasure to be around. In February, I ran into him after a basketball game and he very proudly gave several of us a tour of the new law school addition. There are few great people and he was one." — Nick Gaede '64


"He was the embodiment of the word 'gentleman.'" — Richard Horvitz '78


"I first knew Robinson Everett in 1948 when he was a young man, the son of two lawyers who practiced together in a very successful firm of their own in Durham, N.C. As time went on, I watched as he completed his legal education, began to practice law, and make an enviable name for himself. I later encountered him as my professor of criminal law court procedure at Duke Law School.

"He has been my friend in every way. He introduced me to the Court when I was sworn in to practice law in the state of North Carolina. He was always there for me when I sought advice. I enjoyed his company at the many Bar functions we attended. I will miss him tremendously." — Coralynn Harward Marshall '78


"The Duke University Law School is unlikely to again see the equal of Professor Everett's authenticity, loyalty, and perseverance." — Robert E. Henderson '79


"Judge Everett was a wonderful, caring professor; a mentor to many, myself included. Through his shared wisom and advice, not only on the law but also on the military, he positively impacted the lives of countless students. His unstinting support of those of use who were in the military as students will not be forgotten." — Sarah Gage '01


"I was shocked and saddened to learn of Professor Robinson Everett's recent passing. I remember him as a big hulk of a man with a big heart and an amazing breadth of learning. I had him as my professor for several courses, including Criminal Law Seminar. He was a fine teacher and a fine human being. I will miss him a great deal, and I do believe he was last surviving professor of my class. My condolences to his wife and family." — Philip A. Hubbart '61


"This announcement stopped me in my tracks. Throughout the ups and downs of the law school journey, Judge Everett was a beacon of hope and a constant reminder that you can be both a good person and a successful lawyer. If integrity can be defined as a compilation of virtues such as honesty, compassion, courage, patience, and humility, then Judge Everett embodied integrity on a daily basis. The good guys in life lost one of their own last Friday. May God bless his family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time." — Corey '02 and Jillian Ciocchetti


"In so many aspects [Judge Everett] led a blessed life and he died in a quiet, peaceful way. But, as you know, he was quiet, peaceful, and yet powerful all at the same time. His death is a shock to all of us and especially his family." — David '56 and Hildred Allard


"Many years ago, Professor Everett was the key to making my three year stay at Duke the wonderful experience that it was. As a young, naive new student in 1978, I arrived in Durham without housing, friends, or adequate academic training. Professor Everett offered me housing (I stayed with his mother until he could find me an apartment), befriended me, and counseled me on how to study and balance my law school life. Without Professor Everett, I would never have learned the life lessons that I carry with me today into my own venture investing, charitable work, and teaching career. It is professors like Robinson, that make Duke the great school that it is — a mixture of academic excellence, valuable student experiences, and great life training. He will be missed." — Bill Richardson '81


"In every sense of the term, Judge Everett was truly a gentle giant. The generosity of his spirit was matched only by the wisdom of his insightful perspective which he selflessly shared with students over five decades. The Judge will be fondly remembered and admired for his unmatched example, abiding faith, and wise counsel." — Brian Castro '98


"Judge Everett, 'Robbie,' was a friend and mentor starting with my first year at law school and continuing [until] this day. During my four years as an Air Force JAG, immediately following graduation, I consulted with him on a number of matters and the collaboration continued for years thereafter. One of the highlights of attending ABA meetings was the chance to visit with Robbie and Lynn. Two of the proudest moments in my professional career involved Robbie. One was being sworn in by him as member of the bar of his Court. The second was the day he introduced me in open Court at the U.S. Supreme Court and moved my admission to it's Bar. Upon the convening of that session, Chief Justice Rehnquist promptly recognized Chief Judge Everett and commented upon his prominence as a member of that Court's Bar, as a distinguished jurist, and as a legal scholar. He was clearly all of those things and much more and we will miss him terribly." — Henry H. "Bucky" Fox '66


"What a kind spirit Judge Everett was to everyone he met. I am so glad I was able to see him and speak to him briefly at our recent Reunion. He touched Duke students in ways that few professors could. Judge Everett always had time to stop to chat or answer questions and his patient manner had such a calming effect on students who were often harried, overworked, and stressed. We will never forget him and his many years of service and loyalty to our school and to our country." — Patricia Beaujean Lehtola '84


"Robinson Everett was one of the best professors and best people I was fortunate to come into contact with in my three years at Duke Law School. He got to know his students and really cared about their well-being. His eight o'clock class in Criminal Law was always both excellent and entertaining and made it worthwhile to get up early.

"In addition, Professor Everett was one of only a couple of professors with whom I had contact after graduating, both during my Washington business trips while he was Chief Judge of the UCMA and when he was a speaker at March Air Force Base in Riverside, Calif. where I was located and he went out of his way to look me up.

"Robbie Everett was one of Duke Law School's great assets. I am sure he will be missed."
— Bill Lear '65


"I consider myself fortunate to have had Robbie Everett as a teacher, mentor and friend throughout my career. He has always been the embodiment of Duke Law School to me and my family, and we will miss him greatly." — George Krouse '70


"Judge Everett, a man of such tremendous accomplishment, was the epitome of grace. He always took every opportunity to offer a compliment, do someone a favor, and seek justice for those in need. While in law school, I had the opportunity to interview him our alumni magazine. From that day forward, I considered him the truest of friends. I was extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to represent Judge Everett after beginning law practice, and found him to be perhaps the most honest and inspirational client. Throughout my career, I often sought advice and assistance from Judge Everett, which he freely gave with the greatest of generosity. I can think of no other individual who accomplished so much, yet was so humble. Truly, Judge Everett was a gift of God to all humankind." — Jonathon Kaplan '90


"I have known Judge Everett since I was a teenager. He was a kind, gracious, and brilliant person. He was a faculty member when I was a student at Duke Law School. He always made you feel good when you were around him. He was probably the best organized person I ever knew. He never wasted a minute of time. I would enjoy seeing him occasionally at the Duke Center for Living where he exercised during late afternoon or early evening almost everyday. I will miss seeing him at Duke basketball games, as well as at Bar functions. He knew more about military justice than anyone in the country. Our city and our profession has lost a giant of a man who will long be remembered by those of us fortunate enough to have known him. My sincere condolences to Lynn, Luke, and Rob." — Bob Baker '61


"Judge Everett was a man, though tall in stature, he was still able to communicate on a thoughtful basis with those who had a smaller stature in life and sometime came from a different socio-economic background. Although he possessed degrees from Harvard and Duke, he was not aloof from his fellow man. God gave Judge Everett an extra dose of the Holy Spirit in his life so that he could use his God-given and material talents to comfort individuals in life that he would meet during his journey on this earth.

"I remember the assistance he gave me in locating a competent attorney in New Bern, N.C. that enabled me to save thousands of dollars on my parent's estate taxes. I remember him being the first individual to give my first son a large teddy bear to recognize his birth when I was active in the Duke Law Club of Washington, D.C. I remember being invited to speak in some of his seminar classes while I was employed by the federal government to give his students insights on what I had learned from my work experience. One of the things that made Judge Everett stand out in life, I believe, was his ability to show kindness and help to those who may have not been as fortunate as he had been. May God comfort his wife, children, and grandchildren in the loss of their loved one." — Amos Mills '72


"The Law School and the profession have lost a titan. Judge Everett will forever remain for me the epitome of graciousness, kindness, and dedication to service. I doubt we will see his like again." — Randall H. Cook '04


"I'm very sorry to hear about Robinson. He was an excellent teacher and a wonderful person, who truly loved the law and served it well as a professor, judge, and commentator. If we can find a way to get the judges' school started, it would be nice to have his name associated with it in some way." — David Klaber '69


"I was privileged to have had Robbie Everett as a teacher 35 years ago. I was privileged again to have had the opportunity to spend a weekend with him at a meeting in New Orleans just a month ago. My wife and I enjoyed a wonderful meal with him at Gallatoire's. He was a gracious, caring man, and a joy to talk to. I shall miss those opportunities in the future." — Judge Peter D. Webster '74


"Since 1989, when Judge Everett taught my Criminal Procedure class, he took me under his wing, and was my mentor, friend, and father figure. This man was not only a legal and intellectual giant, but a beautiful example of a man devoted to Christ. He was a light that shone for everyone to see. Everyone who knew him held him in high esteem. He was always proper and correct in his dealings with others, which I believe is properly termed "righteousness." He was always humble, and genuinely interested in his students. I still marvel at the love and kindness which Judge Everett, his wife, and his family have shown me over the years.

"As the years went by, it seemed appropriate to remember him on Father's Day. Judge Everett believed in me, and that has inspired me to never give up. He personally represented me before the N.C. Board of Law Examiners, and invested himself in me and in many other students. He served as advisor to the Christian Legal Society, Duke Chapter, and sought every opportunity to help others.

"He was simple and unpretentious. One of his favorite places to sit and have coffee or a milkshake or burger was the Wendy's on Hillsborough Road. We would sit while he listened to and advised me on any problem that I was having. One day he made an interesting request. He said, 'When you get your mansion, don't forget to invite me and Lynn (Mrs. Everett) over to visit with you.' He was refering to that place in heaven which he lived in anticipation of receiving. Well, he has gone on to his mansion in heaven. He has finished his race, and his life has inspired and encouraged us all. I regret that he will not be here to fulfill my request, as he had agreed that he would give me away on my wedding day. God bless you, Judge Everett." — Paula Simon Duke '86, Duke Law '91


"Robinson is never to be forgotten and ever to be missed. He was a giant in all respects — as a legal scholar, a judge, a practicing lawyer, a beloved husband and father, and a friend. We became friends in September 1956 and maintained our friendship until the end. It was rare privilege to have known this man and to have had him as so dear a friend. There was nothing petty or mean about him. He was all generosity, charity, and goodness." — Phil Sotel '62


"Robinson a/k/a 'Robbie-O' was a one-of-a-kind man. His tremendous accomplishments are well documented, but they do not nearly describe the man. He always carried himself with the grace of a southern gentleman, treating all he encountered with dignity and respect. His commitment to the law and to scholarship and love of Duke was demonstrated by his continuing to teach into his eighties when others would have long before retired to travels or to those other avocations we never seem to have time enough to pursue. We will miss you Robbie." — David Ichel '78


"Judge Everett is a big reason I am the lawyer I am today. He was the professor of my small-section at Duke Law my first semester there in 1994. He also helped guide me into my chosen practice of First Amendment and media law, helping me to secure my first-ever law firm job at the firm that his mother founded, Everett, Gaskins, Hancock & Stevens.

"One my most distinct memories from that challenging first year of law school is sitting in Judge Everett's criminal law class, with him gesturing — as he always would — holding his eye glasses perched between his stretched-out thumb and ring finger. (The man had huge hands.) He was discoursing in his stately Southern growl about the nuances of mens rea for certain crimes defined under the Model Penal Code, jabbing the air for emphasis with the frames of his glasses. A student asked what mens rea was required for the crime of statutory rape. Judge Everett smiled. 'Well, son, for that one, there isn't much of a state of mind to talk about, now is there. It's kind of like being a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren't. She either is or she isn't over the age of consent.'

"Judge Everett was a wonderful mentor to me throughout my time at Duke. Judge Everett continued to take an interest in my work even after that 1L year, and he and his wife were perennial hosts for events for our small-section group.

"The law school and the law have lost a great man." — Chris Beall '97



"Robbie gave us brilliance, grace, patience, and remarkable achievement - things we can, and can only, aspire to." Stuart Pierson '68


"It is with the deepest sadness that I heard the news of Judge Everett's passing. Judge Everett was one of the small handful of truly great human beings that I have ever known. This is a huge loss that extends far beyond Duke's campus. The human race has lost one of its finest members. We all miss you more than words can say." — John Cook '04


"Tall stature, powerful intellect, and impressive achievements all set a person apart. But when those attributes coexist with gentleness, service, and the self-forgetfulness that is true humility, then we are in the presence of grace. Robinson Everett embodied that kind of grace which I hope is the basic culture of Duke Law School.

"When I studied law at Duke in the late 1970s, Judge Everett was nationally known for his academic achievements and contributions to military law. Yet at Duke, he knew his students by name and face; he always seemed to have time to talk and to see the very best in each person he met. As I later entered law practice, I was amazed to learn how pervasive was his cheerful presence outside the law school and what a positive influence he had on the legal community throughout North Carolina.

"Later, during a time of personal and professional uncertainty, Judge Everett came alongside me as a friend to affirm and advise. I don't know if he had any influence on my being hired to teach at Duke, but I know that I wouldn't be teaching here if it had not been for his encouragement.

So a few years ago, it was also my great joy to see my son, Isaac, join Judge Everett's criminal law small section, becoming a second generation disciple of this great, graceful man. When I placed the hood over Isaac's head during graduation 2009, Judge Everett was, of course, one of many to congratulate us.

"'Congratulate,' etymologically, can mean to share in giving thanks. As a Christian, Judge Everett believed that death is a graduation, from this life on to a greater and more permanent reality. On this occasion of Judge Everett's graduation, it's altogether right for those of us whose lives he touched to congratulate, to share our thankfulness for this great and gracious man." Hans Linnartz '80


"While [Judge Everett] will be greatly missed, he will be even more greatly esteemed by all who knew him. I don't think I have ever known someone who had life in such wonderful balance — always, to me, content, out-going, selfless, and a perfect educator and gentleman.

"He is certainly one of my role models — down to the last event (don't you hope that someday when you have lived a full life you just 'pass away in your sleep' — sweet dreams become reality!)."
— Russell Richards '74


"[Judge Everett] was my teacher/mentor/friend and an inspiration for over 50 years and I will never forget him. I am consoled that I finally succumbed to his blandishments and returned to my alma mater for the first time since my graduation in the Spring of 2008. Duke and Durham had changed incredibly but Robinson remained the same — so smart, so kind, so thoughtful, so inspiring. We hd a wonderful time together from graduation ceremonies to my first "pig picking." Robinson, at 80, led me on a merry chase from dawn to dusk to darkness. He was an inspiration — a lesson in a life well lived. I will miss him." — Llewelyn Pritchard '61


"When I was in school there, Professor Everett and I became friends and I even spent some time as a junior, junior, junior law clerk in his mother's law office. The Everett family was central to the development of the practice of law in Durham and working for his mother gave me a chance to research titles in the recorder's office in Orange County. He was a kind, brilliant, warm gentleman. His loss is as large as his life was." — Mark O. Van Wagoner '74


"Judge Everett was a great inspiration for both Deanna and I through our project. He took time to talk with us about our plans and provided advice along the way. In addition, in the last few weeks, he took a few of his last moments to attend our opening and show his support and appreciation for our project.

"Though we do not know his family, we ask that you pass along our condolences and sympathies." — Colin '03 and Deanna Crossman


"Our community has suffered a tremendous loss. Of course, Robinson Everett's accomplishments are many: Attorney, judge, advocate, professor, and advisor are among his many titles. He excelled at every task he undertook, rose to every challenge. His professional accolades go on and on, but he was so much more. Above all, a family man, community leader, and a friend. I will never forget Judge Everett and my father chasing Robbie, Greg, and me through the American Museum of Natural History. Like many, I am struggling to quantify, to somehow gather all Judge Everett did and meant to us. I don't think it is possible. However, I know I will always have a smile when I encounter something he has touched." — Henry Pye


"It happens that one professor from my law school years in the sixties stands out as both the one who influenced me most at the time and the one who I admired the most over the 45 years after I graduated. Robinson Everett became my friend and colleague and continued to be in contact with me up until he died. As a Duke professor emeritus myself, I have come to appreciate how outstanding personalities have built and bolstered this university. I am one who believes that a great university consists largely of two parts: faculty and students (administration is an underlying crucial element, and I have been a part of that, too). But the interaction between inspiring teachers and inspired students is sacred. Robinson embodied that model, all his wonderful life." — David Warren '64


"I was fortunate to have Judge Everett as my criminal law professor (Judge Everett co-taught the class with another judge from the Court of Military Appeals, Walter Cox). He made criminal law interesting as he would always interject situations from the bench into our class discussions.

"He was a very approachable person and he taught his class in a way that many 1L professors could not. He actually gave his students a measure of respect and had a demeanor that took away much of the apprehension that 1Ls experience.

"He will be truly missed, both throughout the Duke Law community and the State of North Carolina. My condolences and prayers go out to his family, particularly his youngest son, Luke. I got to know Luke through our many pick-up basketball games in Card Gym." — Kedrick N. Eily '04


"Robbie was a bit older than I am, but he was more precocious and started teaching at a younger age than I had attained when I began to teach in 1958 at age 27. In any event I looked up to him way back when the two of us were the upstarts at Duke Law. Few lawyers or law professors played as many positions as he did over his long career. Obits, comments reported in the press, and other statements have pretty well summarized his achievements. I would add only one point of emphasis, which is as much about the late Senator Sam Ervin as about Robinson. When Robinson served part time as consultant to the Subcommittee on Constitutional Law of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was working for Senator Sam, the Committee Chairman, as I recall. Observers closer to the Washington scene than I was supported my own observation that these two North Carolinians pretty much reformed military justice.

"Ervin was a Southern Democrat, probably as conservative as most of the others. However, he was smart as a whip and had his liberal moments. The military justice reform that he and Robinson Everett largely brought about substituted for rough and ready military justice a code that provided for accused military personnel approximately the same procedural and constitutional safeguards that were then accorded to criminal defendants in our civilian courts. Or so I understood at the time, and I was just over two years beyond my own military service and was following that development with interest. I expect that Robbie did a lot of the heavy lifting in that collaboration, but without Senator Sam's political clout the deed could not have been done. So, at tomorrow's memorial service for Robinson Everett, I will be especially mindful of the Tar Heel twosome who together brought about the much needed reform of the Code of Military Justice."
— Paul Hardin '54


"The phrase, 'he was an officer and a gentleman' is apropos for Judge Everett. He was a military judge and he had an infectious Southern charm. I worked as a law clerk my third year and the following summer with Judge Everett on his Cromartie v. Hunt case. It was an honor to work with him and I feel I learned so much from this experience. Also, when there was a glitch in my application for a supplemental student loan to cover bar expenses, Judge Everett stepped in and offered to give me a loan to cover the gap expenses. You could argue I am an attorney today due to his generosity of spirit. I am very grateful, as I am sure most every student who has come through the Duke Law halls, to have had the opportunity to have known Judge Everett and to have had his influence in my life." — Jamie Davenport '00


"I am very sad to hear of Judge Everett's passing. He was so kind to me and he always had a nice, friendly, and encouraging word to share. I will miss talking with him. Although I wasn't in his class, he was a teacher to me; he really taught me about the role of the lawyer in society. He will be missed not only for all that he did for our school, but also for who he was to everyone. Please let his family know that they are in my thoughts and prayers." Christine Appah '08


"The first class I audit[ed] at Duke was Professor Everett's criminal law for 1L students. I [felt] intense relief when he gave me a ready consent to audit his class, since it was just after I arrived [in the] U.S. I attended his other classes as well, not only because my major is criminal law but also because he was warm and kind person.

"When I left Durham, I truly appreciated him. Since I had a chance to study [in] Professor Everett's classes, I could enjoy studying at Duke. Professor Everett kindly contacted with me via email even after I came back to Japan. He told me that he looked forward to reading and discussing my dissertation. I also thought that I would love to meet him again [in] Durham. However, it is impossible now... I am very sad and sorry. I will continue to work on my thesis, and would like to report [to] Professor Everett when I finish it." — Masaya Tsuda LLM '08


"It is with profound sadness that I write this today. Judge Everett was my mentor and my confidant, however, I am most honored that I was able to call him my friend. I can't count the number of times he has stopped in the hallway, responded to an email, or picked up the phone to listen and counsel me no matter what I was going through. Best of all, he did it without fail no matter how busy he was. Even five years after graduation he was always there for me.

"Judge Everett has helped me with my career, family life, and even personal setbacks. He always made me feel comfortable approaching him for guidance and never made me feel bad for burdening him. Always with sage advice, he has helped guide me in the right direction numerous times and without hesitation.

"I had the pleasure of, literally, running into him at the ABA Mid-Year Conference in Boston. I called out his name in the hallway and he turned around with that wonderful smile that we all know and greeted me with the biggest and warmest hug. It was only those few months ago that we discussed my coming down to visit. Being the generous man that he was, he offered me a place to stay. That, my friends, is the Judge Everett I'll always remember. So kind and giving, so compassionate and loving. Yet, I always found him to be so humble. We could use more men like him.

"I know he would not want me to live with any regrets, but I do wish that I had spent more time with him. He had so much to share and his energy was infectious. I can only hope that I live my life and pursue my career in a way that will make him proud. After all, I owe a lot of my success to him.

"Rest in peace."
— D. Fon Muttamara-Walker JD/LLM '04


"Sitting on a motel bed in the process of putting in his contact lenses, Robbie dropped one of them. 'Damn!' said Robbie - the only bad word I ever heard him utter. When I started teaching at Duke in 1960, he audited my Comparative Law class, and prevented me from making many a mistake on American law. Later, for many years, he was my co-editor on Law and Contemporary Problems. I still get quite undeserved credit for a splendid symposium on academic freedom edited by him. Still later, we met with some frequency at conferences in Washington. Despite his high judicial office there, I noticed that his car still had a North Carolina license. He was always cheerful, always glad to see you - and many others. While on leave in Germany, an American colleague told me that 'Robbie' was destined for appointment to the Court of Military Justice. No need to mention family names - everybody knows who Robbie was.

"'Who's that man in the funny clothes standing next to Robbie?' the little Italian boy is rumored to have asked his father when the Pope ventured out on the Vatican balcony with his distinguished guest. He will be missed by many." — Hans W. Baade LLB, LLM '55


"[Judge Everett] truly did a lot for the cause of military justice." — Paul Robblee


"Robbie may have saved my life.

"After experiencing his kind and gentle manner (with his supplemental casebook on sex crimes) in first year criminal law, I signed up for his exotic military law seminar.The class was so small that it regularly met in a pizza/beer joint.

"Facing the draft in 1965, I applied to the Air Force JAG Corps. Having the course on my records helped me go to Rome, N.Y. for three years instead of Vietnam. I went later, but that is another tale.

"Robbie and I stayed in touch for all these years because of my continuing interest in military and veterans law. At each five year Reunion, he would remember and mention the paper I wrote on the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. I will miss seeing him next year at our 45th Reunion.

"Duke Law lost a treasure with this gentleman's demise." — David Addleston '65


"In Dean Levi's announcement, Judge Everett was called a 'model of the citizen-lawyer' and he certainly was that, and more, he was a model of the citizen-public servant. That is where I knew him best and where his life had its greatest impact on me.

"During my one year (1962-1963) at Duke Law School most of what I did learn that proved of greatest use to me in my forty years of journalism came from his class. But later, as a reporter for the Durham Morning-Herald I watched him in another role, as chairman of Durham's urban renewal effort.

"These were tense and divisive times. The clearing of substandard housing, the improvement of public transportation and other infrastructure, and the efforts to revitalize and bring stability to a community that had been neglected was a contentious business. The Civil Rights struggle, the reordering of an unequal political system, the upheavals in the local economy all made Durham as potentially dangerous a place as any community in the South and yet it mostly escaped the violence that erupted elsewhere.

"In large measure I believe it was because Durham was blessed with a group of men and women who were determined to bring about peaceful change. Robinson O. Everett was the most effective and prominent leader in that group. If Durham is a better place to live today it is because of him." — James Srodes '65


"There can be no tribute to Robinson Everett's life without acknowledging his contributions to the Law School. Although he and I disagreed in his position in his 1992 suit challenging redistricting, I must commend him in his stance and that of former professor Jack Johnson who stood staunchly with the rest of the faculty in support of the integration of the North Carolina Bar Association. It was in 1966, when I, after having passed the North Carolina Bar Examination, applied for admission and was rejected because of my race [that] the faculty voted to withdraw the law school's affiliation with the Association.

"About two years later, while stationed in the legal office of the Air Reserve Personnel Center, I got a call from then Dean Forest Hodge O' Neal who informed me that the Association had reversed its policy on race and that blacks would be admitted, and that Duke was considering rejoining the Association. He further stated that I would not be admitted as the first, but would be admitted as the second. The Bar Association did admit my good friend Julius Chambers, a graduate of the UNC Law School as its first minority member.

"Many years later at a Bar Association meeting, Robbie and I shared dinner with Jack Johnson, along with Jim Maxwell and others to remember the event with a view towards in some way memorializing the event and giving credit to our law school for the stance that it took and making reformation to our society. Robbie was enthusiastic about this venture and displayed great pride in the courage of the faculty when the Bar Association would not admit one of their own.

"Robbie's love for Duke, its students and its faculty were unparalleled. He will be always remembered not only for his teaching skills but also for this contribution to the Law School." — Eric Michaux '66


"Like all of you, I have fond, fond memories of 'Robbie-O.' He was a wonderful person and a great, down-to-earth professor." — Phil Shailer '65


"[Judge Everett] was truly an extraordinary person. He was also one of the two remaining professors still alive who taught me in Law School. (Paul Hardin is the other.) In the almost 50 years I knew Robbie, I never saw him 'down,' at a loss for words, or not actively planning a next project." Neil Williams '61


"Robinson Everett was not only an outstanding teacher and scholar, but also a big man, who never made others feel small. His generous spirit brightened everyone fortunate enough to be touched by him." — Gerald T. Wetherington '63


"I, like many before and after me, owe much to Judge Everett. Not only did he persuade me to apply to be a military judge advocate, but he also wrote a letter to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy on my behalf. Since then, the military has helped me experience a wonderful life — from practicing before Judge Everett at the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces to meeting the woman who is now my wife on an overseas assignment to having twins nine months after returning from my last trip to Iraq. I wasn't very good in torts (probably because he didn't teach my class), but I think of him as a proximate cause of all the good things that have happened since our conversation in my third year of law school.

"Over the years when I would see him, I would always try to thank him for what he did for me. Before I could say a word, he would always give me that great smile as he asked questions about what I was doing. I'm not sure I even had the chance to actually utter the words "thank you," before he would be surrounded by others from his past trying to get a few minutes of his time. I'm sure that, even though he now has an eternity of time, he is still, and will always be, surrounded by his admirers.

"Thank you Judge Everett. God bless you and your family."
— Nadeem Ahmad '93


"I met Professor Everett for the first time when the North Carolina Bar Association celebrated 100 years of women lawyers. He politely asked if he could join me at my table. I had a wonderful evening talking with him about his mother and his personal experiences. Within the next year, my family welcomed a new member to our large clan. Professor Everett's son, Luke, married one of my cousins. Both Luke and Sherry are attorneys who have spent the last year or so in Durham working with Professor Everett. I know that they treasure the time they spent with him as the rest of us remember such a great man who touched us all in many ways." — Joy A. Jones


"It's hard for me to describe, even from the perspective of 20 some-odd years, the impact that Judge Everett had on me and on my career choices as a lawyer. Although he occupied a place of enormous stature and importance at Duke as a professor, it was watching him in action as a lawyer and a sitting judge that I really got the flavor of what practicing law meant.

"He was a superb teacher. I enjoyed his classes as much as I did anyone's at Duke's, and I learned more about trial work, and careful trial work, from listening to him explore the nuances of the criminal code, and rules of evidence than I did from all the mentors I had in later years in large firm work. When I began to practice law, and actually try cases, I realized that being a student of Judge Everett's meant that I had a leg up on many of my contemporaries. His lessons were not exercises in academic theory — they were pointed and well-defined lectures and discussions about how to effectively advocate and practice law in a trial setting.

"But the real eye-opener for me was watching him on the bench when I was a student at Duke. He routinely invited his military students up to watch oral argument before the Court of Military Appeals (now the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces). His questions to counsel were direct, and incisive. He made it very clear when he thought the government was overreaching or was trying to get him to accept something that was patently unfair or wrong. Judge Everett never lost a sympathetic view for the lower ranking men and women whose conduct was the focus of the cases that typically came before him.

He was particularly generous with me — I needed a lot of help as a law student. He recognized this, and gave me an opportunity to write an article on one of his cases that ultimately was published in a military law review. And he never lost track of or interest in his former students; the last time I had a chance to sit down and talk with him he cross-examined me expertly on what I was doing, the cases I'd taken on, and what I hoped to do in the future.

"And finally, he could deliver the appropriate comment anywhere, be it a courtroom, or cocktail party. When one of my good friends — an Air Force and Duke classmate — introduced his extremely charming and intelligent wife to Judge Everett, Robbie graciously chatted with her for a few moments, turned to my friend and said, 'Son, you've out-married yourself.'

Those of us who have gone on to some success following our departure from Judge Everett's classroom, especially those of us in the military, would say something similar about our former instructor, mentor, and friend: every one of us out-professored ourselves. A truly marvelous person has passed on." — Lou Michels '85


"Judge Everett was my small section criminal law professor at Duke. In retrospect, I was so fortunate to be placed into his section. He was an amazing man who shaped my interest in criminal law and he was a first-rate professor — bright, involved, and always willing to help. I ended up taking every class he taught at the law school and learning a great deal. My family and I ate dinner with him at Magnolia Grill the night of my law school graduation. He very much inspired me to do my best and he is the reason I am a federal prosecutor today." — Randy Katz '01


"I was on my way to Africa when Judge Everett passed. I just returned last evening. He had called me the day before our departure to wish me and the other members of the group assessing the Uganda Prison System well. That was just the kind of person he was.

"I was indeed honored to have been associated with him for the past several years. While warden at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner he came out one afternoon with others to talk about prisoner reentry. He had for several years since his Air Force Judge Advocate days been interested in returning men to society as productive citizens. This encounter turned into a friendship and for the past several years, I have been honored and humbled to assist him in teaching.

"He taught so much simply by his presence. Many others have known him for much longer but it did not take long to realize how truly special an individual he was. His compassion for others, his principled conviction to justice and the law, and his dedication to his students were among just three things to cite. His faith in his God led him in his life and anyone who had the privilege of knowing him for very long knew this. He welcomed me to his family and encouraged the development of a non-profit organization to advocate public policy for the successful reentry of prisoners. We have just finished incorporating this endeavor, largely because of his insistence that more had to be accomplished in the public policy arena. We will attempt to continue in his honor.

"What is most remarkable is a man at the apogee of his life and career was thinking not so much of himself but others less fortunate and the society as a whole. I could write many pages in what he taught me by scholarship and example over the past few years, but simply stated, you don't meet many people like him and all who had the privilege were the better for it.

"Our personal sympathies to Lynn, Rob, Greg, and Luke along with their families. In addition my personal sympathies to the Duke Law community. We have lost a great man who would not have wanted us to do anything other than carry on." — Art Beeler


"I am still having trouble accepting the fact that my wonderful Professor Robinson Everett has passed away. I remember the days in his Criminal Law classes when I was a first year student in 1962-1963 and he would recite from the pages of sections of cases he was discussing a truly brilliant and at the same time kind and gentle man with a wonderful sense of humor.

"When I was on active duty as a Navy JAG officer 1965-68 I regularly used and quoted from his article "Military Justice, The Pendulum Swings" to help support my successful arguments in defense of the servicemen I was representing that certain types of administrative discharges could have as adverse an effect on a person's future as a bad conduct discharge. Professor Everett's article was an invaluable aid to me in making my arguments before Navy Administrative Discharge Boards.

"As just one example of his generous spirit, about four years ago I called him to talk about my neighbor's son who was at the time a senior at Duke and interested in going to the Law School. Not only did Professor Everett meet with him, he had him to his home for dinner!

"Professor Everett was a real friend over the years and he always remembered my name which is truly remarkable considering the number of students he taught in his very lengthy career! I was so looking forward to seeing him at our 45th Reunion coming up next year. My deepest sympathy to his wife, his family, and the many, many people who knew and loved him over the years." — Doug MacPhail '65


"In scanning the notes on Robie, I observe that none seem to mention his service as a North Carolina Commissioner on Uniform State Laws, another important contribution he has made to our profession and law. The Commissioners from North Carolina to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) include Jim Wynn, Rhoda Billings, Russell Walker and Sid Eagles from the Judiciary; and from the faculties of Law Schools: Robie, Rich Lord, and Marion Benfield as well as Rhoda; and Elmer Oettinger formerly the head of the Public Policy Institute.

"Over the years, Robie served on a large number of Drafting Committees including the Revised Controlled Substances Act, the Uniform Duties to Disabled Persons Act, the Model State Administrative Procedures Act and the Uniform Limited Partnership Act. Commissioners are encouraged to bring their family to the Annual Meetings that extend for eight days. So Lynn and his three sons also often attended the Annual Meetings.

"I had the honor of serving as the President of the Conference from 1983-85 during the time the Conference began the extensive revision efforts to accommodate the UCC to the electronic age with new technologies and practices (Articles 3, 4, 4A, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9). I suspect the Robie (although he would never confess), was the proponent for my selection as the first recepient of the Charles Murphy Award for public service in 1986, in part based on my pro bono service with NCCUSL.

"As all have said in their memorials, Robie was warm and engaging, smart and intellectual but an intent listener as well. The Conference will miss his wisdom deeply." — Carlyle Conwell "Connie" Ring '56


About this page

The Honorable Judge Robinson O. Everett taught at Duke Law School for more than 50 years and was a member of the Class of 1959. A teacher, mentor, colleague, and friend, Everett leaves behind an indelible legacy at Duke Law School and in the legal profession.

This memorial site contains links to an obituary, stories, and a video of a recent interview with Everett. We have also established a page containing memories and condolences from those whose lives Everett touched.