W. J. Michael “Mike” Cody | A View from the Mountaintop


On April 4, 1968, six lawyers came to the aid of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in a Federal District Court in Memphis, Tennessee. We visited W. J. Michael “Mike” Cody – one of the lawyers – in October 2019 at his law office in Memphis and he shared his remembrances of the untold legal efforts that were a big part of that fateful day.

For additional reference read, W. J. Michael Cody, King at the Mountaintop: The Representation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Memphis, April 3-4 1968, 41 U. Mem. L. Rev. 699 (2011). For the transcript of the hearing, visit https://www.tnwd.uscourts.gov/pdf/content/CityOfMemphisVKingTranscript.pdf.

To hear the University of Memphis Law School program mentioned in this episode, visit https://www.tnwd.uscourts.gov/MLK50.php

Guest Bio:

Mike Cody’s practice is presently focused on the mediation and arbitration of complex commercial disputes, as well as commercial litigation, internal investigations, and regulatory matters.

Mr. Cody began his practice at the firm in 1961 and, except for his years in public service, has been with Burch, Porter & Johnson since that time. He served as the Attorney General of Tennessee from 1984 to 1988, was the United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee from 1977 to 1981, and served on the Memphis City Council from 1975 to 1977.

He has represented major corporations across the United States in a wide variety of litigation and in matters before state attorneys general and regulatory agencies. In 2005, he was appointed to serve as Co-Chair of the Tennessee Commission on Ethics, charged by the Governor of Tennessee with revising state ethics laws. In 2010, Mr. Cody was elected co-chair of the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus or SAGE. One of the founding members of the group, he is only the second co-chair in SAGE’s history.

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