Sunday, July 20, 2008

Legendary DUI Lawyer (to defend drinkin' Angels)?

Prominent S.C. DUI defense attorney Reese Joye was found dead in a Cambridge, Mass., hotel room Sunday morning. He was 70. An Angel himself, he certainly has an impact wherever he is now.

Joye was attending an annual trial advocacy summer conference at Harvard University, which he had organized, and was set to return to Charleston on Sunday.

But when he didn’t come down for breakfast or answer his phone, his colleagues were concerned and sent hotel security to check on him.

His death appears to be from natural causes, said Ken Harrell, the family’s spokesman and one of Joye’s law partners.

He said Joye hadn’t shown any signs of illness.

“He had been in high spirits and had gone out to dinner the night before,” Harrell said.

In recent months he had also gone on ski trips and fly fishing trips, Harrell added.

“He really was in the best health he’d been in months.”

Joye’s family today will likely receive the medical examiner’s report naming an official cause of death.

His body will be flown to South Carolina today and Charleston’s Stuhr funeral home will handle the arrangements, Harrell said.

Joye, a lifelong South Carolinian, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of South Carolina.

He was instrumental in the debate in drafting the state’s DUI law over the past few years. In 2006, he was one of three attorneys asked to help draft legislation to replace S.C.’s DUI laws.

“Reese was a true advocate for what he believed in,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.

“He definitely made his presence known. Especially in the Legislature over the last decade.”

In 1970, Joye opened his private law practice in North Charleston.

An author of three books on drunken-driving laws and prosecution, Joye was a founding member and past president of the S.C. Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“Reese was much more than a DUI defense attorney,” said Leland Greeley, the association’s current president.

Joye, he said, was a mentor to young attorneys.

“Basically we now have a void that will always be there,” he said.

“It will not be filled.”

Joye is survived by his wife, Jackie; three adult children and five grandchildren.