July 18, 2008
One exceptional lawyer toasts another
Millard Farmer of Atlanta, one of the premiere criminal defense lawyers of our time, is best known for his ceaseless work on death penalty cases. Those who have seen the movie “Dead Man Walking” will remember him as the lawyer recruited by Sister Helen Prejean to attempt (unsuccessfully) to prevent the execution of Elmo Patrick Sonnier by the state of Louisiana.
During his visits to Columbus over the years, Mr. Farmer came to know and admire local lawyer Donald Schumacher. Don died last month at the age of 61 after 31 years of as an outstanding criminal defense lawyer and public defender. When informed of Don’s death, Mr. Farmer sent the following encomium to members of the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, of which organization, and its Columbus affiliate, Don had served as President:
Most people are not tough fighters for the entirety of their life; this requires a degree of tenacity that most do not possess. Don was a fighter, not for day, a month, or just a year, but as the banner of his life’s work. As tough a fighter as Don was this is not what set Don apart from the masses or even apart from the great members in the legal profession. Don was set apart from all but a very few in our society because Don’s fighting, tenacity and warrior qualities were not for himself. Don’s fight was to protect those who were weak, those who society did not deal a fair hand and those who were ostracized from the main stream of society. Don fought the fights that others evaded. Don fought the fights that protect the liberties of everyone. Don will be missed by those who loved and admired his work, but there will be a greater void to fill by those who would never understand the work of Don, for in protecting the rights of the least in our society protected the whole of Society. Thank you, Don.
(Reprinted with permission from Millard Farmer)