Linda Hames, lifetime Canton resident and retired director of indigent defense for the local court system, died Thursday at age 71 at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.
Hames was committed to civic service, influenced legal systems throughout Georgia and supported her family passionately, friends and family said.
Jill Hames said her mother left a mark, not only on her family, but on the entire community.
“I can remember on Christmas Eve, her not coming to our family Christmas, so she could get prisoners out of jail so they could spend time with their family,” her daughter said. “She always treated people with compassion, and went the extra mile. ... She sang, her father was a gospel musician and she had a beautiful voice and would sing in church.”
Hames was honored by the Blue Ridge Bar Association and Canton Rotarians for her extensive work in the community.
“She was an advocate for all of the prisoners, and kept the jails from being over crowded,” her daughter said.
With 34 years of service helping those who could not afford a defense attorney to get an appointed lawyer, Hames was given the Guardian of Justice Award in 2012.
She helped build the county’s program to provide people with lawyers, and is credited with creating a model that was used by other counties throughout north Georgia.
Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Jackson Harris said he knew and worked with Hames for a long time, and said she always had strong values and character, and strongly influenced the legal system locally and statewide.
“With those tools and her compassion, she put lawyers together with the right clients so that they could be compatible,” Harris said. “She molded our indigent defense program into one of the best in the state, if not the best, and she did it pretty much single-handedly.”
Harris said Hames mentored young lawyers so they could gain experience, and said she had “great compassion for human beings.”
“Her job was to manage the program that provided attorneys for people who could not afford attorneys,” Harris said. “The way she did it, and really it was because of her values and good judge of character, she not only helped indigent defendants or people who couldn’t afford lawyers, but she helped develop young lawyers.”
The Bar Association honored Hames with both the Colonel Robert Stubbs Distinguished Service Award and The Liberty Bell Award. Both awards are given to non-lawyers who helped the criminal justice system in its efforts.
The Distinguished Service award is not given yearly, but is presented to deserving candidates for their extraordinary work within the legal community. The Liberty award is given yearly to a Cherokee resident who has a commitment to service and has stimulated individual responsibility in the community.
Harris said Hames’ operation of the program was a “great benefit to the court system and to the local bar” association.
“In essence, Ms. Hames was a person of character and a good judge of character and was compassionate, and with those tools she was able to help other people throughout her career,” Harris said.
Hames is survived by her two daughters, Jill and Lisa Hames.
Jill said her father, George Hames, died in 1992, and her brother, Derek Hames, died in a car accident in 1978 at the age of 16.
“Never once did my mother ever get mad at God about that. Never once did she ever get angry, she used it to help other people who were in similar situation,” her daughter said.
Jill said her mother always supported her in her career and always encouraged her children to follow their dreams.
“(She told us) we could do anything we wanted to if we just set our minds to it,” she said.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the South Canton Funeral Home. Visitation is today from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. until the funeral service begins at 11 a.m. in the South Canton Funeral Home Chapel.
Rev. Charles Davis is officiating, and interment will follow at Cherokee Memorial Park.
The South Canton Funeral Home is at 3147 Marietta Highway in Canton.