Featured Scholar: Donald E. Wilkes Jr.

By Rachel Evans & David Rutland


Donald Eugene Wilkes Jr. 1944 – 2019

Next week on Wednesday July 17, 2019 the University of Georgia School of Law will hold a memorial service for Professor Emeritus Donald E. Wilkes, Jr. who taught at the law school for more than 40 years before retiring in 2012. The service will take place at the Chapel on North Campus at 3:30 p.m. Professor Wilkes, who passed away on June 7, 2019 at the age of 74, made an immense impact on legal scholarship. He has been remembered fondly throughout the local community:

One of the world’s leading experts on the writ of habeas corpus, his works span the fields of criminal procedure, capital punishment and postconviction remedies. There are also interesting popular media pieces about the JFK assassination, and the relationship between the media, the CIA and Lee Harvey Oswald. Other interesting works he wrote included the use of tasers by law enforcement and electroshock on prisoners. Of Wilkes’ more than 300 published works, close to 70 items are in our library catalog, and our institutional repository Digital Commons contains more than 200 entries, including 19 books, 31 papers and over 150 in popular media.


In honor of his legacy and dedication to legal scholarship, we are highlighting a selection of items from these collections in a display, and wanted to share the following standout items from our repository statistics:

Most downloaded from Popular Media: Intriguing Mystery – The Secret Service and the JFK Assassination

This article, originally published in the local Athens newspaper Flagpole Magazine, has been accessed more than 3,300 times since publication in September 2012. “Based on the information now available nearly 50 years after the assassination, there is a consensus among those who have investigated President Kennedy’s Secret Service protection. The consensus: JFK’s protection was inadequate. Indeed, the protection was so defective that it dangerously increased the likelihood that an assassination plan involving one or more concealed snipers firing into the presidential limousine would succeed. By making the murder of JFK easier and the undetected escape of the assassins more likely, this Secret Service bungling contributed to the assassination.”

Most downloaded from Faculty Scholarship: Postconviction Habeas Corpus Relief in Georgia: A Decade After the Habeas Corpus Act

With more than 1,400 downloads to date from Digital Commons, this article was published in 1978 in one of our school’s own journals, the Georgia Law Review. “Part II of this Article will highlight the grounds for relief from a conviction or sentence that were available to a Georgia prisoner prior to 1967 and the procedural obstacles to relief that existed. Part III will explore the grounds for relief currently available, and Part IV will examine the procedural obstacles to postconviction relief that remain. Part V will briefly summarize the availability of postconviction relief in federal court to determine whether the 1967 Act has in fact eliminated the friction between the state courts and the federal courts.”

Wilkes was also a prominent speaker and several lectures about his favorite topics can be found online for free as well as in our archives by request. Check out the following two videos from 2016 and 2013 talks he gave on the JFK Assassination presented at the Athens-Clarke County Public Library, or stop by our library to watch the videos in person:

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