Family. Honor. Tradition. Legacy.
For Jamie Graham, these are more than just words but rather cemented values. Graham’s life tells a story of honoring his family’s tradition while also establishing his own legacy on an already distinguished family name.
Born in August 1968 at St. Francis hospital in Columbus, GA, Graham has spent the majority of his life in Phenix City, AL where his family has been practicing law for almost 70 years. His grandfather, William Benton, was a member of the Blue-Ribbon Grand Jury that issued the indictments during the “Sin City” era of Phenix City.
After graduating from law school, Graham’s father opened his own law firm in Phenix City. Practicing law, being educators, and giving back to the city was not just an obligation for their families but an entwined part of their lives. Yet, the law was not Jamie Graham’s first career choice.
Graham played baseball for the majority of his childhood and youth. When he graduated from Central High School in 1986, he accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Chattahoochee Valley Community College, followed by half of a year at Columbus College (now known as Columbus State University). After taking some time and marrying his wife, Paula, in February 1992, Graham enrolled at then-Troy State University where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. At this point, Graham was well on his way to becoming a teacher with aspirations of coaching baseball, something that his close friends will tell you is his real love. With his future almost solidified, Graham entered into some conversations with his brother Greg which would alter his entire future.
The brothers both decided to follow the family legacy and attend law school. They entered together into the Jones School of Law (now part of Faulkner University) in Montgomery, AL in January 1995. In 1997, they graduated from law school and passed the bar in 1998. Shortly after passing the bar, the brothers joined their dad’s practice and changed it to The Graham Legal Firm, as it is known today.
In 2004, Kenneth Davis, District Attorney at the time, approached Graham about joining his team at the DA’s office. In October 2004, after deep discussions and prayers, Graham left the family practice. During his time at the DA’s office, he was placed in charge of Child Support Court, Traffic Court, Domestic Violence Court, and felony cases. During his 11 years at the DA’s office, Graham oversaw thousands of cases; he loved trying cases in the courtroom. Graham left the District Attorney’s office in 2015 to run for District Attorney against his former boss.
After losing a fairly close race, Graham went back into the private sector. Shortly after the election was over, Graham was contacted about an opportunity for a federal judgeship. After going through a year-and-a-half process, he made it to the final selection and interviews in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, then-President Donald Trump froze all the hiring of federal judges for a year-and-a-half. When the government unfroze the process, Graham was one of the first candidates they contacted to ask him to reapply. But, due to the long application and interview process, he happily declined the offer.
Witnessing all this from afar and preparing for retirement, Russell County’s District Court Judge Michael Bellamy reached out to Graham about running for his position once he retired. After numerous talks with other judges, individuals, and mentors, Graham knew where his path was leading. Being known as a respectful and fair attorney, pursuing a federal judgeship, it only made sense that after 25 years of practicing law for Graham to run for District Court Judge in the place he called home. As of Nov. 8, 2022, Graham’s fellow citizens believed in his work and character enough to vote him into office as District Court Judge.
Judge Graham’s resume speaks for itself, and his reputation in the courtroom is respected not only locally but nationally. Do not let this resume of what appears to be a workaholic fool you; he continues to build upon his family’s legacy of community work, all at the same time as practicing law. He is not one to promote his charitable work or even talk about it when asked, yet he has been doing it for decades.
Graham served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club when it was active in Phenix City. He volunteered as a youth football, wrestling, and baseball coach for over a decade. He is an active member of the Phenix City Rotary Club. He has been a volunteer during the holidays handing out turkeys. Also, during the holidays, he and his family would sponsor different children at Christmas.
Graham also dressed up as Santa Claus for local DHR and foster care homes to visit children around the city. This led him to be asked to don the Santa suit at local elementary schools.
Judge Graham is a man of principle, a man of integrity, and a man who has dedicated his life to the service of his community. He does not boast about his victories or service to others, nor does he complain about his losses. He is a family man that respects his fellow brothers and sisters in the community and strives to make Phenix City a better place for those that call it home.