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Portrait of legendary DA adorns jury room
Portrait of legendary DA adorns jury room
Atlantic Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Paul Rose helped members of the Cheney family, granddaughter Amanda, daughter Kit Cheney Lamb, widow Delores Cheney and son Kirk Cheney unveil a portrait of the late district attorney Dupont Cheney in the Liberty County Judicial Complex’s jury room Monday. Photo by Pat Donahue

One of the most respected and tenacious prosecutors in Georgia was remembered Monday morning at the Liberty County Judicial Complex.

With help from Atlantic Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Paul Rose, the family of the late Dupont Cheney unveiled a portrait of the former district attorney in the first floor jury room. Cheney served as the Atlantic Judicial Circuit district attorney from 1976-98, tutoring dozens of future judges and attorneys along the way.

“I learned a lot from Dupont,” Judge Rose. “He taught me to prepare thoroughly, to stand by your work. He was so well-respected.”

In advance of a trial, Cheney often went out of town and hunkered down, prepping for the upcoming proceeding and go through the case in tremendous detail, Rose said. “And he had that notebook, every point he wanted to get to the jury from each of the witnesses,” he added. “By the end of that notebook, when he got to the final page and got that last checkmark, somebody was going to jail.”

Cheney earned his reputation as a brilliant trial lawyer, the judge acknowledged.

“He served the citizens of this circuit extremely well for 22 years,” Rose added. “He was always described as a man of integrity, integrity beyond reproach. He was fair. He was gruff. I can hear that deep baritone, that sonorous voice that was one of the best in the courtroom.”

Judge Rose added Cheney also had a compassionate side, often helping those who wound up on the wrong side of the law.

Cheney started his career in law enforcement, but not as a prosecutor. Instead, he was a police officer and later a detective in Macon. His testimony was so detailed, the judges there urged him to go to law school.

He earned his degree from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law, and served as an assistant dean. Then, at the urging of Georgia legal legend Hugh Mc-Natt, he accepted a position in Liberty County to serve as an assistant district attorney.

“And he did — without telling his wife Delores,” Judge Rose said.

Rose was supposed to start with the DA’s office in Columbus but a couple of weeks before he was to start, he was told his position wasn’t funded. Rose was advised to see Cheney, who had a position available, and was told of Cheney’s reputation.

“Without Dupont Cheney, I wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “He was good to me. He treated me like a son.”

Cheney’s son Kirk, also now a lawyer, followed a different path to his legal career. The younger Cheney served in the Coast Guard as a member of a helicopter crew before finishing his degree and going to law school. He now works for the DeKalb County Solicitor’s Office and preps new lawyers to become trial attorneys.

“I didn’t really follow his legal career as much as people thought,” the younger Cheney said. “He was a wonderful father, more than anything. If you did something wrong, he would give you a look and I would not need anything said to me after that.

“Before I went to law school, I didn’t think my father was more than a big fish in a small pond. But when I went to Mercer and throughout my career, I learned how respected he was. In a lot of courtrooms, I was Dupont Cheney’s son.”

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