Robert Hutton has argued some remarkable cases as an attorney at Glankler Brown PLLC, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
His extensive work in civil rights and death penalty cases has placed him among the top attorneys not only in Memphis but nationwide.
Recently, Hutton’s accomplishments earned him and his descendents a coat of arms in the United Kingdom’s Royal College of Arms.
When his grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, Hutton became interested in his family history in England. Knowing his family came from York, England, he researched his family name there and found a man, Matthew Hutton, who was archbishop of York. Thinking there must be some link, Hutton contacted a herald at the Royal College of Arms to find out if they were from the same bloodline. The results came with a twist he didn’t expect.
“After some research, it was discovered that no good connection existed and it was more likely that I had come from farmers and laborers,” Hutton said. “The Herald had gotten interested, however, after he asked about what I did. So, he knew I had argued before the Supreme Court, and he said, ‘Though you’re not related to the Archbishop of York, having an English background and with your work’ – I’d done a lot of civil rights work, death penalty work, stuff like that – ‘the crown would likely grant you arms in your own right.’”
After a fairly tedious confirmation process that included checking his curriculum vitae with his professional experience including cases argued, his Supreme Court argument in Bell v. Cone and even his college transcripts, he was granted the coat of arms based on his own achievements.
Hutton likes working civil rights cases the most. He has argued a slew of cases in this area and continues the mission today.
He sued the Shelby County Jail in the “Thunderdome” case in 2000 because at the time, gangs were allegedly staging gladiator-style fights, participating in gang rapes and beatings. In addition, he got new jails built in Lauderdale and Hardin counties on court orders because of unconstitutional conditions in the old facilities.
“I’ve done a lot of death penalty defense,” Hutton said. “I represented Robert Glenn Coe – not during his trial but in the later stages. I argued Gary Cone’s case before the U.S Supreme Court, and I had the first clemency of a guy on death row in 40, 50 years when Gov. (Phil) Bredesen granted clemency to Michael Boyd last year.”
Hutton also practices criminal defense. He represented University of Alabama booster Logan Young who was eventually convicted in 2005 on charges that he paid the coaches of Trezevant High School graduate Albert Means $150,000 for Means to play football at Alabama.
He also does a substantial amount of civil commercial litigation – solving public and private legal disputes for individuals and organizations.
Though he has always been focused on his career, Hutton married at 36 and now believes that the key in life is balance.
“What I think is great about being an attorney is your ability to actually do something to help people have a better life – like those who were victims of gang violence in the jail back when we had the Shelby County Jail litigation,” Hutton said. “I enjoy speaking out for those on death row or that are marginalized.
“It’s also very important to me to have time for family and to make sure my children are raised well, have values and love God,” he said. “To teach these things takes time, and that has become just as much of a goal for me in life as anything else I do.”