Julian Owen Forrester died Tuesday, July 1, 2014, at age 75. Judge Forrester had served as a District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, since January 4, 1982. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan on the recommendation of Senator Mack Mattingly after serving five years as a federal Magistrate Judge for the same court. From 1969 to 1976 he was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.
Owen was born on April 27, 1939, in Columbus, Georgia, to Wallace Redmond Forrester of Leesburg and Helen Willis Owen of Waverly Hall. The family moved to Atlanta in 1947, and Owen attended E. Rivers Elementary School and Northside High School, where he won the Atlanta Journal Cup for the outstanding all-around student in the graduating class of 1957. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology on a Navy scholarship and graduated in 1961. While in college he was emcee of "Dance Party," a television program on Atlanta's NBC affiliate modeled on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand." Owen acted as a stand-in for Clark on "American Bandstand" twice in 1959 and 1960. In his senior year at Tech, he was president of Beta Theta Pi, was co-emcee of an Atlanta television program for Junior Achievement, and edited "The Rambler," a humor magazine that received a national journalism award for the best feature magazine published by an American college in 1961.
After graduation from Tech, Owen became an investment analyst with Trust Company Bank of Georgia while attending the evening division of Emory Law School. Upon graduation he joined Bo Callaway's campaign staff for his race for governor in 1966. After a year in politics, he joined the law firm of Fisher & Phillips, where he practiced labor law until 1969, when he joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta. While there he headed one of the first drug enforcement task forces in the Southeast, and in 1973, he became First Assistant United States Attorney in charge of the criminal division.
During his tenure as a federal district judge, Judge Forrester served on the Committee on Automation and Technology of the Judicial Conference of the United States from 1990 to 1997, including three years as its chairman, where he was an early advocate for the automation of judicial chambers and electronic case filing. He was also the Eleventh Circuit District Judge Representative to the Judicial Conference of the United States from 2002 to 2005, and was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve on the Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference from 2003 to 2005. He became a senior judge in 2004.
Among Judge Forrester's most notable cases was the federal habeas corpus petition of Georgia death row inmate Warren McCleskey, whose case involved the use of statistical evidence to challenge a capital sentence as racially discriminatory and was eventually decided by the Supreme Court in 1987. In 1987, Judge Forrester sentenced a California businessman to fifteen years in federal prison and fined him $6.6 million for violating federal export laws in the sale of two C-130 military transport airplanes to undercover agents of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Judge Forrester presided over the 2002 trial of two men who were convicted in the country's first prosecution under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, for human trafficking in the prostitution of girls as young as twelve years old. He also handled the 2006 criminal case of a former employee of the Coca-Cola Company for attempting to sell the corporation's trade secrets.
Owen was a very patriotic man with a strong ethical code and always felt a tremendous sense of pride serving his country through the judicial system. He thoroughly enjoyed the camaraderie of the court community and cherished the opportunity to mentor his law clerks.
Personally, Owen was truly a renaissance man, enjoying poetry, classical music, a love of cooking, traveling the world with his wife, wood-smoked BBQ, Georgia Tech football, and the outdoors through hunting and fishing. Additionally, he and his wife have been members of The Church of the Apostles for the last 25 years.
Owen is survived by his wife of 43 years, the former Linda Vaughn Myrick, and by two sons, Rob (Rachel) Forrester and Randy (Paisley) Forrester, and five grandchildren, Charlotte and Ford Forrester, and Azure, Julian, and Clive Forrester.
The family will receive friends Tuesday evening July 8 from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at H.M. Patterson & Son Spring Hill Chapel. Funeral services will be held Wednesday July 9 at 10 a.m. at The Church of The Apostles, 3585 Northside Parkway, Atlanta GA 30327 with a reception afterwards. Interment will follow at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Georgia Tech Alumni Association (Georgia Tech Foundation, 190 North Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30313) or The Church of the Apostles (3585 Northside Parkway NW, Atlanta, GA 30327).