Horace Elmo Nichols, 1954-1966
HORACE ELMO NICHOLS was born on July 16, 1912, in Elkmont, Limestone County, Alabama. He attended public schools in Birmingham and received his law degree from Cumberland Law School. He also studied constitutional law at Columbia University. He is a Presbyterian and a Democrat. While in college he was elected to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon and Blue Key fraternities.
Judge Nichols was admitted to the Bar in December 1935 and thereafter practiced law in Canton. He served as Assistant Solicitor of the Blue Ridge Circuit from 1938 to 1940, when he moved to Rome, Georgia. In 1946 he was appointed Assistant Attorney General of Georgia, and served in that capacity until he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court of the Rome Circuit on October 18,1948. He subsequently was elected by the people of that circuit to a full term, serving until January IS, 1954, when he was appointed Judge of the Court of Appeals of Georgia by Governor Herman Talmadge.
Judge Nichols was Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals when Governor Carl Sanders appointed him to the Supreme Court of Georgia on November IS, 1966. On January I, 1975, Judge Nichols became Chief Justice of the Court, succeeding Chief Justice Grice. He served as Chief Justice until his retirement on December 31, 1980.
Chief Justice Nichols was married October 20, 1945, to Edith Mae Bowers. She died on May 27,1984. They have three children: Nancy Bates Nichols Glenn, Carol Elizabeth Nichols Henwood, and H. E. Nichols, Jr. They also have seven grandchildren: Caroline Lewis Glenn, Martha Bates Glenn, J. Lewis Glenn, Jr., William Scott Henwood, Jr., Cameron Nichols Henwood, Marianne Nichols, and H. E. Nichols III.
While Chief Justice of Georgia, Judge Nichols implemented many progressive and innovative changes in the functioning of the Court and the judiciary as a whole. He will long be remembered for his outstanding leadership and reform activities. He stumped the State of Georgia to successfully elevate the salaries of the Georgia judiciary and to procure adoption of America's first unified appeal in capital felony criminal cases.
Chief Justice Nichols is an accomplished musician in both voice and piano, having studied at the Nashville Conservatory, Chicago Musical College, and Columbia School of Music.