Skip to main content
Historical Biography

Attorney General: Griffin Boyette Bell

Bell, Griffin Boyette
72nd Attorney General, -
Download Image

Griffin Boyette Bell was born in Americus, Georgia, on October 31, 1918. He attended Georgia Southwestern College, and received an LL.B. degree cum laude from Mercer University Law School in Macon, Georgia. In addition, he received the Order of the Coif from Vanderbilt Law School, and honorary degrees from a number of colleges and universities.

Mr. Bell served in the U. S. Army from 1941 to 1946, attaining the rank of major.

He was admitted to the Georgia bar in 1947, and practiced in Savannah and Rome, Georgia, before joining the Atlanta law firm of King & Spalding in 1953. From January 1959 to October 1961, Bell held the honorary position of chief of staff to Georgia Governor Ernest Vandiver.

In 1961 President Kennedy appointed him to serve on the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. In March 1976, he returned to King & Spalding as a senior partner. He resigned from the firm on December 31, 1976, after being nominated for the office of Attorney General by President Carter. Confirmed by the Senate on January 25, 1977, Bell was sworn in on January 26, receiving the oath of office from Chief Justice Warren E. Burger.

During his career, Bell served as Chairman of the Committee on Innovation and Development of the Federal Judicial Center, of the American Bar Association's Division of Judicial Administration and of the Pound Conference Follow-Up Task Force.

His memberships included the American Law Institute, the American Bar Association's Commission on Standards of Judicial Administration, the Board of Directors of the Federal Judicial Center, the American College of Trial Lawyers, and the Visiting Committee of Vanderbilt Law School. He was a trustee of Mercer University and an attorney with the law firm King & Spalding. Bell died January 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.

About the Artist: Peter Stevens

Stevens (1920-2002) was born in London, England, in March 1920. He received his art education at the Royal Academy Schools in London, studying portraiture under Sir Walter Russell, A.R.A. Stevens painted from a photograph a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt for use during a memorial service for the late President. This portrait hangs today in the Historical Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. Among his other works are portraits of several speakers of the Rhode Island House of Representatives and supreme court justices of various States.

In 1979 he painted Attorney General Bell's portrait, which was commissioned by a committee of friends of the Attorney General and presented to the Department of Justice.

Updated October 25, 2022