Alabama Academy of Honor


John Vernon Denson II

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2011.



John Vernon Denson II was born July 5, 1936, in Opelika. He attended public schools there and graduated from Opelika High School in 1954. He attended Auburn University and graduated with a B.S. degree in 1958. In 1960, he graduated from The University of Alabama School of Law.

While in law school, Denson was a member of the Bench and Bar Legal Honor Society and Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity. He was also a member of the Board of Editors of the Alabama Law Review. Denson pursued graduate studies at the New York School of Law and then clerked for Judge Frank M. Johnson, Jr., from 1961-1962. Judge Johnson later appointed Denson to serve as part-time U.S. Commissioner and U.S. Magistrate Judge, 1964-1972.

In 1962, Denson joined the Opelika firm of Samford & Torbert. Densonís practice has been primarily for the defense in the fields of personal injury and medical malpractice. He has continued to practice for that firm, now Samford and Denson, until the present time, except for the six years he served as a circuit judge. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in America for the past 15 years. He was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1988 and is the representative of the Alabama Bar on the Court of Judiciary.

A long-time leader in the business community, Denson is a past president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Farmerís National Bank, Opelika, and served as its chairman from 1978-2005. He was also a director of Alabama National Bank, Birmingham, 2002-2009. He is one of the founders and the vice chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Auburn, which promotes free market economics and limited constitutional government. In conjunction with the Institute, he is a frequent lecturer in the U.S. and Europe and is author of the book, A Century of War.

Denson served on the Auburn University Board of Trustees from 1980-1999, on the Auburn Foundation Board from 2001-2004, and on the first board of directors of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art. He served as circuit judge for the 37th Circuit (Lee County) for one term, 2005-2010, and was ineligible for re-election to a second term because of age limitation. Denson is currently a member of the Alabama Menís Hall of Fame Board and past member of the Alabama Humanities Foundation Board.

Denson and his wife Rose Ann have two children and five grandchildren.