Judge Leslie Isaiah Gaines passes away at 69

Judge Leslie Isaiah Gaines passes away at 69

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Long-time judge and attorney Leslie Isaiah Gaines died this week following a long illness.

The local legend passed away Monday, sources close to him say.

Gaines was as well-known for his signature bowler hat as he was for his career.

He had been sick for some time before passing. Gaines was 69.

Hamilton County Municipal Court judge Fanon Rucker sent a tweet in Gaines' honor Monday night. It read: "R.I.P. Judge Gaines Briefs. My Brother, Thank you for carrying the torch and lighting the way for so many."

Besides being a well-known municipal court judge, Gaines also spent time as an evangelist, attorney, motivational speaker and talk show host.

He earned a law degree from Howard University in 1971 and came to Cincinnati to work at the Cincinnati Legal Aid Office, according to Cincinnati Museum Center.

In 2002, he co-wrote the book "Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine" with Jennifer Lee Gaines.

FOX19 NOW's legal analyst Mike Allen, also a former Hamilton County Municipal Court judge, called Gaines "probably the best trial lawyer I have seen."

He praised Gaines for generously share his expertise with his colleagues and, in particular, other lawyers.

"He was always there when you needed him," Allen recalled Tuesday. "He had this public persona of this bombastic, loud, strong criminal defense lawyer, which he was what he needed to be, but he was also just a very kind and thoughtful man."

Gaines understood when a client was simply too broke to completely pay for his legal services and never withhold his best defense.

"He would say something along the lines of 'if they don't have the ability to pay, that's OK.'"

On Tuesday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters issued the following statement:

"Les was a great lawyer, a great judge and a wonderful friend.  He had the most incredible presence in the courtroom that I have ever seen. I will miss him very much. God bless him"

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