Attorney's goal is to help those in trouble

As passionate as Jacque Hawk is about practicing law, he still doesn't hesitate a 10th of a second before picking baseball as his first love.

And then he laughs one of those guffaws that come from the belly. He does that easily and often.

Mr. Hawk has coached kids' baseball teams for 19 years. It started with a neighbor boy who begged for help. Mr. Hawk's contempt for the coach's abusive style led him to volunteer for the job.

These days he coaches his son's school team through the week, and on weekends they travel with 14-year-old Erin's Shockers Blue team.

"And in between I practice law," Mr. Hawk said.

The law wasn't his first career choice. He was at Augusta State, studying art and playing in a rock 'n' roll band when his brother Victor asked him to help out one summer.

"I liked what he was doing. He was helping people," Mr. Hawk said. He went back to school, changed his major, started taking academics seriously to raise his grades, and he got into law school.

He's been helping people since, sometimes earning the ire of opponents, such as the federal prosecutor at whose table Mr. Hawk once hid a toy gun.

His client, Mr. Hawk explained, was delivering some marijuana when he was busted. The drug charge meant a year or two in prison, but the real danger was the weapon charge that would mean many years in prison, Mr. Hawk said. His client's defense was that he didn't know the gun was in the car he used for the delivery.

Mr. Hawk wanted jurors to understand how someone can drive a car every day without knowing there was a gun inside. Without his opponent's knowledge, or that of the judge or security officers, Mr. Hawk stashed a toy gun at the table where the prosecutor sat. Imagine, he told the jurors, that this was a country where it was illegal for a prosecutor to have a gun in the courtroom while he tried a case.

His client was acquitted within minutes.

Mr. Hawk isn't the most popular person in some prosecutors' offices, said John Garcia, a former assistant U.S. attorney now in private practice. But Mr. Garcia said he has found Mr. Hawk to be straightforward in his dealings.

He remembers another case in which the narcotics agents found a load of cocaine at a man's business. The packaging had the defendant's fingerprints on it. Officers also found precision, professional-grade scales at his home.

"Jacque got him acquitted," Mr. Garcia said.

Mr. Hawk said he loves being in a trial, trying to get jurors to see his clients as he sees them. Through his eyes, people are who they are because of genetics and life experiences.

Kindness is a core value for Mr. Hawk. His charity extends to some whom others would describe as monsters, such as convicted serial killer Reinaldo Rivera.

"We were meant to be kind to each other, to be understanding and compassionate to each other," he said.

Mr. Hawk, who recently argued Mr. Rivera's appeal before the Georgia Supreme Court, was vilified in at least one "rant" published in The Augusta Chronicle.

"It goes with the territory," Mr. Hawk said with a shrug. "If we don't do our jobs, if we don't bust our butts ... that case would never end.

"If you do it any other way, you're just creating a mess that somebody else will have to clean up."

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

JACQUE HAWK

AGE: 49

EDUCATION: Graduated Cumberland Law School, Samford University

FAMILY: Sons Jade, 19, and Erin, 14; divorced, but back together with his eighth-grade sweetheart