NEWS- Tommybrook: Publicist to the stars ready for trial

Tommy Garrett leaves Buckingham General District Court on Friday, February 1, with his attorney, famed civil rights activist James Ghee.

After a year of anticipation, Buckingham publicist and chicken farmer Tommy Garrett will have to wait a little longer to have his day in court. At 2pm Friday, February 1, Garrett was set to face 11 counts related to allegedly forging checks, nearly a year after the trial was first continued in February 2007.

However, multiple defense witnesses did not show up at Buckingham General District Court, and after 45 minutes of waiting, all parties agreed to delay the trial a week.

When the trial finally does take place, it will be the latest in a long line of events that have put Garrett in the public eye. The website for Garrett's firm, ICONS Public Relations, boasts a client list including actors Clint Walker, Ruta Lee, and Rex Reason.

As if that weren't enough glittery info for one lifetime, Garret hosted a Hollywood retrospective series called Somewhere in Time on local CBS affiliate WCAV; in June 2006, he sent out a press release announcing he was attending the funerals of both TV producer Aaron Spelling and bereaved mother Patsy Ramsey; he released another statement heralding a cover story about him in Senior Magazine (a publication of which the Hook can find no evidence); and in 2007 he appeared on Ed Begley Jr.'s HGTV reality program, Living with Ed, to help Begley's wife, Rachelle Carson, choose her wardrobe for the Sundance Film Festival. 

Said Begley of Garrett on the show, "I didn't really see eye to eye with Rachelle's friend."

Apparently, neither did Charles Colbert, the Bremo Bluff funeral home director for whom Garrett worked until 1995, when Garrett sued Colbert for $930,000 for defamation, back pay, reneging on a promissory note, and emotional distress relating to Garrett's charges of racism and necrophilia. A jury disagreed about the indecent liberties but awarded Garrett $41,000 since Colbert had accused Garrett of stealing without being able to prove the allegation.

When asked if he would answer a few questions following the proceedings, Garrett told the Hook, "You can ask all you want, but I probably won't answer since your publication called me a 'colored boy,'" before saying to an unidentified friend, "These are the people I'm going to sue next."

Garrett refers to a February 22, 2007 Hook article, "Publicist charged: 15 forgery counts continued," in which a reporter wrote that, soon after she spoke with Garrett and his attorney, but before publication of her article, she received an anonymous voice mail from someone claiming to be an 85-year-old woman and making allegations about Garrett's accuser's mental health, and bemoaning those who wanted to "ruin that poor little colored boy."

When Garrett referred the Hook's questions to his legal representative, Farmville attorney James E. Ghee, the attorney declined to answer any questions.

Ghee has some experience with charges of money mishandling himself, having pled guilty to 11 misdemeanor counts of embezzlement in 1996 and in the process losing his license to practice law in October 1995. Ghee was re-admitted to the Virginia State Bar on April 2 of last year.

The veteran attorney is considered something of an icon in nearby Prince Edward County, a racially troubled spot in the '50s and '60s where local government officials fought school integration all the way to the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education– the landmark case in which the Court ruled that "separate but equal" institutions are inherently unequal. (Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy famously remarked in 1963 that "The only places on earth not to provide free public education are Communist China, North Vietnam, Sarawak, Singapore, British Honduras– and Prince Edward County, Virginia.")

It was in this charged environment that Ghee became the town's first African-American lawyer on September 21, 1973. Such did Ghee's stature build over the next 35 years that despite his mid-1990s misdeeds, NAACP president and UVA professor Julian Bond nominated him to the NAACP national executive board in 1998.

Garrett's trial is set for Friday, February 8.



Wow, you people at the Hook never learn.

So Tommy Garrett doesn't understand the difference between The Hook reporting that someone called him a colored boy and The Hook itself calling him a colored boy?

I haven't seen garret since we were on Saturday Night Live together. It was wrong to refer to him as a colored boy.. he is a grown man....

It is completely irresponsible to report a comment made allegedly by an anonymous caller when there is absolutely no evidence that this call ever took place. What stops a reporter from stating anything they like and pinning it to an anonymous source that can't be traced? A paper is supposed to report verifiable facts, not extremely biased self-opinion. It is widely known that the Hook is employed by people who have serious personal issues with Mr Garrett and they continue their personal vendettas by writing about him with hatred and contempt. It would be nice if the Hook just got on with the business of being a regular newspaper with fair & unbiased reporting. If it can't be done then those bitter people should change careers.

If they don't like the guy they can attack him with all of the truth with whatever slant they want. You don't know thta the quote was made up. If he doesn't like it he can sue. The line isn't crossed until there is intent of malice.

The press picks on George Bush everyday. Do you want them to be stifled?

The guys own actions made him a public figure.

He brought this on himself.

BitterVaNut, George W. Bush is in a financial position to ignore whatever is made up about him. Mr Garrett is a regular guy trying to earn a living like most of us and reckless, vindictive reporting can jeopardize his ability to go about his rightful business. Ask the many lonely soldiers in Iraq, who Mr Garrett personally sent care packages to and wrote daily, what kind of a person he is. Ask the teachers and school children he talks to what kind of a person he is. This has been a shameful witch hunt by a small group of hateful friends in a position of responsibility.