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The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis

Judge Ronald L. Ellis was born on July 4, 1950 in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana to Ella Mae Ellis and Herman Ellis. In search of better job prospects, Ellis’ father moved the family to New York City, where Ellis graduated from Cardinal Spellman High School in 1968. Ellis earned his B.Ch.E. degree in chemical engineering from Manhattan College in 1972, and entered New York University School of Law as a recipient of the prestigious Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholarship.

During his second and third years of law school, Ellis became interested in the civil rights mission of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (NAACP LDF). After obtaining his J.D. degree, he worked briefly as a patent attorney for Exxon before joining the NAACP LDF in 1976, where he specialized in fair employment class action litigation. From 1984 to 1990, Ellis served as the organization’s Fair Employment Program director. Ellis went on to serve as the NAACP LDF’s Poverty & Justice Program director, where he worked on the landmark civil rights case Sheff v. O’Neil. In 1993, Ellis was sworn in as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. As a magistrate judge, Ellis handled pre-trial matters, including arraignment and determining bail. Ellis drew public criticism in 2009 for deciding not to remand fraudulent investor Bernie Madoff, in light of allegations that he had violated the terms of his bail. He also ruled on the City of New York’s lawsuit against documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, and refused to suppress a subpoena demanding that the BBC release unaired footage from its documentary Arafat Investigated.

In addition to his courtroom duties, Ellis mentored many law clerks, and served as an adjunct law professor at New York University School of Law, New York Law School and Columbia School of Law, often teaching courses on race and the law. He co-authored the chapter “Achieving Race and Gender Fairness in the Courtroom” in The Judge’s Book, and was a member of the Federal Bar Council and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association.

Ellis and his wife, Kathleen, have two sons, Jamil and Jelani, and a granddaughter, Alexandra.

Judge Ronald L. Ellis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 27, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.056

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/27/2016 |and| 11/11/2016

Last Name

Ellis

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Louis

Schools

New York University School of Law

Manhattan College

Cardinal Spellman High School

St. Thomas the Apostle School

St. Luke School

First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Lafourche Crossing

HM ID

ELL06

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

Do The Right Thing.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

7/4/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Judge Ronald L. Elllis (1950 - ) worked at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and served as a magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Employment

United States District Court

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Exxon Research & Engineering

Columbia University School of Law

New York University Law School

New York Law School

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his parents' marriage

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers his childhood illnesses

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers St. Luke's Elementary School in Thibodaux, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his early relationship with his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes himself as a student

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes segregation in Thibodaux, Louisiana

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his father's decision to move to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers moving to New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls attending St. Thomas the Apostle School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers attending Cardinal Spellman High School in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the race relations at Cardinal Spellman High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his early impressions of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his decision to study engineering at Manhattan College in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his decision to attend the New York University School of Law

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers meeting and marrying his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers interning at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls working with Jack Greenberg

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes what he learned at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the financial limitations of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers working for Exxon Research and Engineering Company

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers his first case with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls working on hiring discrimination cases

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the settlements in his hiring discrimination suits

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about employment discrimination practices in the North

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the federal government's reverse discrimination cases

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s reaction to civil rights setbacks

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the challenges concerning poverty

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers 1989 Sheff v. O'Neill case

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s relationship with the U.S. Congress

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls becoming a magistrate judge

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his role as a magistrate judge

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers ruling on Bernard Madoff's bail hearing

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis' interview, session 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his sudden notoriety following Bernard Madoff's trial

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about partisanship in the judicial branch

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his transition from lawyer to magistrate judge

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his philosophy as a judge, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his philosophy as a judge, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.'s influence on his judgeship

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his support staff

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the process of writing an opinion

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls his ruling on the 'Central Park Five' documentary footage

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about the impact of media attention

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls the settlement in the Central Park Five emotional distress case

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes the process of publishing case documents

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his teaching career

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his approach to teaching about race and law, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his approach to teaching about race and law, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about how the criminal justice system disadvantages the poor

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mentorship, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis describes his mentorship, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about stop and frisk policies

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for Americans, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for Americans, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis shares his advice for young people

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about wealth and the justice system

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis talks about technology and the law

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$3

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis recalls becoming a magistrate judge
The Honorable Ronald L. Ellis remembers interning at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Transcript
The idea of, you know, the idea of going through [U.S.] Congress, you know, my, I mean, I had been very vocal on affirmative action. I--there was no way I was going to hide those--I mean, I'm in print, I'd given interviews. So, and having seen what had happened to, to people who had gone through it, it didn't seem like a viable alternative. I didn't realize that magistrate judges didn't go through Congress. I didn't really know that much about them. But at the time, in our court [U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York], we had Robert Carter [HistoryMaker Robert L. Carter] and Connie Motley [Constance Baker Motley]. And Robert Carter had said that he had been trying to, to get them to appoint a black magistrate judge and the, the response he got was, you know, "If a qualified candidate is there, then we'll consider them." So he called the director-counsel at the time, who was [HistoryMaker] Elaine Jones, and said, "Send, have somebody apply who's a qualified candidate." And so she came to me and I didn't really know that much about it. I said, "Well, you know, sure, I'll give it a shot." And so I put in my application and I put it, I actually put in the application before I found out that much about the job. And then I found out about the job and then I put in an application for the Eastern District [U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York], which also had a vacancy. I said, "Well, this looks like a very good job." And well the magistrate judges go through a merit selection panel and they evaluate the people without regard to political party or leanings; and so I got through that, and then they recommend you to the board of judges and I got selected there.$It's a four year program for your law degree [at New York University School of Law, New York, New York], correct?$$Three.$$Three, and when you come out, actually before you come out, 'cause generally you have internships while you're--$$Correct.$$--in college. What did you do as your internships?$$Well, the first internship I did was out in Minnesota. I did a summer there. It was a small firm that did criminal defense for Native Americans and African Americans. So, it was actually a criminal defense. And so that was my first internship. The program also had a requirement that you do an internship during your second year and I had gotten the opportunity to work at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund [NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.]. And that, that was one of those, I guess it was serendipity because I had not actually sought out the job there and one of the other, someone else in the program had arranged an interview at the Legal Defense Fund but then that wasn't their first choice so they got their first choice and I passed them on one day just at the law school and they said they had an interview at the Legal Defense Fund. I said I didn't know they had an opening there and so I said, "Well, you know, that sounds interesting." So I looked it up and I said--I mean, you know, despite all the work that the Legal Defense Fund was doing, you know, not necessarily everybody knows who and what they are and how they're different from the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. And so I went, I went for that interview and they, they said, okay, and so I spent my second year, during the school year, going to the Legal Defense Fund every chance I got.$$So it was different than a summer internship, this was during your--$$During the school year.$$--academic school year?$$Yes.$$And what were you doing?$$Well, interesting enough, they had me drafting legal documents. And, you know, what they call interrogatories, request for production of documents, even a few complaints. And, you know, being supervised, and they said, they--they didn't have a lot of resources and they didn't have a lot of interns back then and I was sort of like it at that point. So, I was, I was doing a lot of different things for different people who were there. If they had a little project, research, then I would do that. And so, I was mainly doing work with the people in employment discrimination but doing other things too and sort of just having a student around during the school year, gives you an opportunity to see people when there's not a lot of bodies around.

The Honorable Arnette Hubbard

Circuit court judge and attorney Arnette R. Hubbard was born in Stephens, Arkansas. Hubbard graduated with her B.S. degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She went on to receive her J.D. degree in 1969 from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1969, Hubbard was hired as a staff attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Then, in 1972, she went into private practice. Hubbard was named the first woman president of the National Bar Association in 1981. From 1985 to 1989, Hubbard served as commissioner of the Chicago Cable Commission. She then served on the three-member Chicago Board of Election Commissioners beginning in 1989, and, in 1992, she became the first African American commissioner elected president of the Association of Election Commissioners of Illinois. She was also the first woman president of the Cook County Bar Association, the nation’s oldest African American bar association.

Hubbard was an official U.S. observer to the 1994 historic elections in South Africa in which Nelson Mandela won the presidency. The following year, President Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Presidential Observer Delegation for the parliamentary and local elections in Haiti. In 1997, Hubbard began a six-year term as a circuit court judge. She began her term in the First Municipal District, but in 2001, Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans assigned her to the Law Jury Section of the Law Division. In 2004, Hubbard retained her seat, and that same year, she helped create and served as vice-chair of the Illinois Commission on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.

Hubbard has served on the Election Authority Advisory Committee of the State Board of Elections of the State of Illinois, as well as the executive committee of the International Association of Clerks, Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers. She has received the Clarence Darrow Award in recognition of her contributions to social justice. In 2000, Hubbard received the Obelisk Award for education and community service. In 2001, she became the first woman inducted into the Scroll of Distinguished Women Lawyers by the National Bar Association in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of her presidency of that organization. Hubbard also received the Margaret Brent Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Bar Association in 2009.

Arnette Hubbard was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 30, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.310

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/30/2003

Last Name

Hubbard

Maker Category
Middle Name

Rhinehart

Occupation
Schools

Southern Illinois University

John Marshall Law School

Washington Middle School

First Name

Arnette

Birth City, State, Country

Stephens

HM ID

HUB02

Favorite Season

Whenever It's Sunny

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

1/11/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable Arnette Hubbard (1935 - ) was a practicing attorney for twenty-eight years before becoming a circuit court judge in Chicago. She was the first woman president of the National Bar Association, as well as the first woman president of the Cook County Bar Association.

Employment

Illinois Cook Judicial Circuit Court

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners

Chicago Cable Commission

Delete

Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Favorite Color

None

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arnette Hubbard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arnette Hubbard lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arnette Hubbard talks about her family history

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arnette Hubbard talks about her father, who passed away when she was a toddler

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arnette Hubbard describes her mother, Madeline Edwards

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arnette Hubbard describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Arnette Hubbard talks about her elementary school years at Washington High School in El Dorado, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Arnette Hubbard talks about her grade school teachers and early love of reading

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Arnette Hubbard narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arnette Hubbard narrates her photographs, pt. 2

The Honorable Wilford Taylor

Wilford Taylor, Jr. was born on January 15, 1950 in Newport News, Virginia. His mother was a homemaker and later a teacher and his father was a mail carrier and chef. He grew up in Hampton, Virginia's Aberdeen community, which is now a historic landmark in the city. In 1968, Taylor was part of the first group of African Americans to integrate Hampton High School. While at Hampton High, he was a member of the football, baseball, track and tennis teams and the thespian club. He earned his high school diploma in 1968.

Taylor then attended Hampton Institute, where he earned his B.S. degree in business management in 1972. Following his graduation, he served in the United States army for the next three years, while earning his master's of commerce degree from the University of Richmond in 1975. In 1978, Taylor earned his law degree from the College of William and Mary. He started a law firm with good friend and attorney Bobby Scott, who is now a Congressman. In 1981, the firm merged with another firm and became Scott, Coles, Brown, Taylor and Melvin. From 1983 until 1985, Taylor worked as the Deputy City Attorney for Hampton. In 1985, Taylor made history, becoming Hampton's first full time African American judge. He served as a judge in the General District Court until 1995, when he was appointed to the Circuit Court, a position he holds today.

Taylor is an adjunct professor at his alma mater, teaching trial advocacy and therapeutic jurisprudence. He is a member of numerous organizations including the American Judges Association, Virginia State Bar Association and Lawyers Helping Lawyers Committee.

He and his wife, Linda, reside in Hampton and have two grown children.

Accession Number

A2004.101

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/20/2004 |and| 10/14/2004

Last Name

Taylor

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Hampton High School

Aberdeen Elementary School

George Wythe High

Hampton University

University of Richmond

The College of William & Mary

First Name

Wilford

Birth City, State, Country

Newport News

HM ID

TAY07

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Let's Fix It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

1/15/1950

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Beef

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable Wilford Taylor (1950 - ) was Hampton, Virginia's first full time African American judge. He served as a judge in the General District Court until 1995, after which he was appointed to the Circuit Court.

Employment

United States Army

Scott & Taylor

Scott, Coles, Brown, Taylor & Melvin

City of Hampton, Virginia

Hampton General District Court

Hampton Circuit Court

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:2578,36:3634,63:3898,68:6868,143:8122,168:11092,238:12544,345:16240,431:16570,437:17032,447:18550,483:18814,488:19474,499:21850,552:23104,581:24028,653:24820,667:25282,676:31844,744:35394,835:36672,861:37027,867:37595,875:39228,896:39867,908:40151,913:40861,924:42281,952:42849,963:43204,969:46257,1022:46541,1027:47251,1039:50091,1102:50375,1107:57226,1155:60350,1229:62480,1272:64042,1315:65959,1350:74520,1451:84500,1563:85200,1572:90660,1673:91360,1686:91640,1691:94090,1734:94580,1743:95210,1753:101004,1806:101536,1814:112220,1992:113588,2020:114884,2041:115388,2050:116396,2071:132505,2307:134638,2345:142256,2399:142739,2417:146534,2513:148190,2545:154124,2685:162847,2756:167580,2814$0,0:6762,195:8556,263:8901,269:9315,285:9936,294:11592,332:16560,483:17043,494:18561,594:29804,773:32024,890:38166,984:38832,1029:43420,1126:44974,1162:48008,1236:48304,1248:55970,1293:73601,1614:73946,1620:74429,1630:74774,1636:75326,1644:78224,1743:93100,2027:98946,2080:99830,2090
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Wilford Taylor's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his mother's educational opportunities and personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his father's employment

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his father's work ethic

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his maternal ancestry

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his summer activities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes Aberdeen Gardens, his childhood neighborhood in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor recalls holidays during his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about the focus of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor lists his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his childhood experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 20 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor recalls memorable elementary school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 21 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his childhood temperament

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about the importance of education for his family

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about attending church in Hampton, Virginia as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his junior high school experiences in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his aspiration to be an airline pilot

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about attending Hampton High School in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor recalls racist incidents at Hampton High School in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his experiences with racism while growing up in the South during the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his favorite high school subjects and activities

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his long-lasting high school friendships

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor remembers visiting Broadway in New York, New York during high school to see 'Man of La Mancha'

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his high school's response to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains his decision to attend Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his impression of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his membership in Groove Phi Groove at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 15 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his experiences as an intern for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Tape: 2 Story: 16 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his favorite classes and professor at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 17 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about directing the Hampton University Drug Education Program

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his experiences as a U.S. Army instructor at Fort Lee, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains his change of interest from flying airplanes to investment banking

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes how he met his wife, Linda Taylor

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about leaving his position in the U.S. Army at Fort Lee, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his decision to attend William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his experiences at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about the grading system at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his favorite constitutional law professor at William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes the academic rigor of William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about beginning a law practice with his friend Bobby Scott in the late 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his responsibilities in his federal litigation practice

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about the merger of Scott and Taylor with Stewart, Brown and Jones in 1981

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains how he became deputy city attorney in 1983 for Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about white city employees' responses to his role as deputy city attorney for Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his family's reaction to his employment as an attorney in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 16 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains the purview of a general district court in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 17 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about becoming the first African American appointed to full-time judgeship in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 18 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes the lobbying process to be appointed general district court judge in the State of Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 19 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his judgeship appointment to the Hampton General District Court in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about the types of cases he tried as judge for the Hampton General District Court in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains how he handled cases when he knew the people involved

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes his first day on the bench in the general district court in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains the differences between a circuit court and general district court in Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about challenging circuit court cases and decisions

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon various perceptions of his conduct as a judge

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor shares his views on the media's role in enlightening the general population about court proceedings

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his perspective on juries

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes the types of cases typically brought before the Hampton Circuit Court in Hampton, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about his perspective on sentencing guidelines in the State of Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his life experiences, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains why his position as a role model honors those who influenced him

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor shares advice for people interested in pursuing a law career

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor reflects upon his life experiences, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 15 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor narrates his photographs, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Wilford Taylor narrates his photographs, pt. 3

DASession

2$2

DATape

3$3

DAStory

13$17

DATitle
The Honorable Wilford Taylor explains how he became deputy city attorney in 1983 for Hampton, Virginia
The Honorable Wilford Taylor talks about becoming the first African American appointed to full-time judgeship in Hampton, Virginia
Transcript
Let's talk little bit about in 1983 when you became the deputy city attorney [for Hampton, Virginia].$$Yes.$$How did that come about?$$Well, I guess at that time I was practicing I was, had, it was just a great experience. I enjoyed the practice of law. Of course, we [Scott, Coles, Brown, Taylor and Melvin P.C., Newport News, Virginia] were growing. The staff was growing, and you know, our caseload was growing. Things were going well, and opportunity presented itself in the city attorney's office in Hampton. And, and I was in, interested in that. I took a class in law school [William & Mary Law School, Williamsburg, Virginia] in municipal corporations, which is basically city government law, and became interested. And, and the city attorney offered me a job, and I, and that's when I started I guess, you know, again, pioneering. I became the first African American attorney to work in the city attorney's office. And I just thought that was a great opportunity to come back home and to become a deputy city attorney, a different kind of practice. You, you get in and you represent city government. You--your department heads and the city council. You, basically, you just try to help them with their legal problems and, and issues. And so it was a great, great experience. And so it was an opportunity to become, you know, a first, and, and I took it, and left private practice, and joined the city attorney staff.$$What were some of the--your accomplishments as deputy city attorney [for Hampton, Virginia]?$$I would say preventive law, working, making city department heads more aware of the legal implications of what they do. My focus and the focus of the city attorney was preventive law, to try not to create a situation where you have to end up in court litigating. I had several cases that went, ended up in court, but we, we were successful. I mean I was able to be, you know, to, to litigate successfully cases that did go to court. But I would say the most important thing was to prevent a lot of law cases in court and to get the managers to understand that they need to prevent and be, be cognizant of legal implications of what they do. And that was our big, big I guess claim to fame. And so I enjoyed spending a lot of time in meetings, and, and advising, and counseling department heads, and, and also helping city council avoid litigation. And I, I thought that was, that was the way to do it. And city manager at the time--I mean city, the city attorney at the time encouraged us to take that approach. And so, that was a big, big thing, big accomplishment I felt. I mean, I can't point to any one thing, how it helped, but I just know that, that many department heads were able to stay out of trouble based on counsel and advice that, that I helped them with.$So you have to get a majority of votes from [the Virginia General Assembly]--saying that this is the person we'd like to have [as Hampton General District Court judge].$$Well, that's the way it, when I, in '85 [1985], that's the way it worked. No, the, the--you don't have to. What, what you have to get is a majority vote of the General Assembly. You don't have to get a bar endorsement.$$Right. So you kind of have to lobby the General Assembly then?$$Yes, yes, you have to do that. But back when I became a judge [on the Hampton General District Court, Hampton, Virginia] in '85 [1985] that was the protocol.$$Okay.$$You had to go through a bar association. And so I went to the Hampton Bar [Association, Hampton, Virginia], 'cause they had never endorsed a black person for a vacancy. Now, I have to tell you, I was the first to be appointed a full-time judge, but I was not the first black judge on the peninsula. We had two other judges that came before me: Philip [S.] Walker and William [Thomas] Stone--$$But you were the first full-time.$$Yeah, first full-time. But those are two of my role models, are very outstanding gentlemen, and, and had they wanted to be full-time judges, they would have been (laughter). But they didn't want to. They were had very, very lucrative practices and, but they were part-time judges. They were just substitute, we call 'em substitute judges, but I was the first full time. But what happened, in '85 [1985], the vacancy came up, and I went to the Hampton Bar and asked for the endorsement, and they gave it to me. I was endorsed by the Hampton Bar for the first time, the first African American to be endorsed by the Hampton Bar for a, a judicial vacancy in Hampton. And of course, I went to the General Assembly, and I was elected a judge. And I became the first judge in Hampton and Newport News [Virginia], actually, on the peninsula. As you, you know, the Hampton and Newport News, we're part of Hampton Roads [Virginia] on this side of the water. I became the first African American judge, full-time judge on the peninsula.

The Honorable D'Army Bailey

Activist, politician, attorney, writer, columnist, public servant and jurist D'Army Bailey was born on November 11, 1941 in Memphis, Tennessee. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, but was expelled from Southern University in Baton Rouge in the early 1960s for participating in anti-segregation demonstrations. He went on to receive his B.A. from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and graduated from Yale Law School in 1967.

After graduation, Bailey served as national director of the Law Students Civil Rights Research Council in New York from 1967 to 1968 and then as staff attorney to the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation from 1968 to 1970. From 1970 to 1971, he was program adviser to the Field Foundation in New York. Elected to the City Council in Berkeley, California, in 1971, he was ousted in a recall election after two years because of his controversial black nationalist politics. Bailey returned to his hometown of Memphis and practiced law from 1974 to 1990. In 1983, he began his fight to preserve the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. Finally, after years of fundraising, Bailey's vision was realized in 1991 when the Lorraine Motel building was restored and transformed into the National Civil Rights Museum.

Bailey became a jurist in 1990, when he was elected Circuit Court Judge in Tennessee's 30th Judicial District. Reelected in 1998, Judge Bailey continued to devote himself to fight for civil rights. Bailey was an author, guest speaker for universities and civic organizations, and had been seen in the films “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Mystery Train.”

Bailey passed away on July 12, 2015 at age 73.

Accession Number

A2003.141

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/24/2003 |and| 7/29/2010

Last Name

Bailey

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Booker T. Washington High School

Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College

Clark University

Boston University School of Law

Yale Law School

First Name

Adrienne

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

BAI03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Well.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

11/11/1941

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Death Date

7/12/2015

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable D'Army Bailey (1941 - 2015 ) founded the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Bailey was a Circuit Court Judge in Tennessee's 30th Judicial District and wrote the book "Mine Eyes Have Seen: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Final Journey." Bailey also made appearances as an actor in movies such as, "Mystery Train," and, "The People Vs. Larry Flint."

Employment

Law Students Civil Rights Research Council

San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation

Field Foundation

Berkeley City Council

Circuit Court of Tennessee for the Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis

Favorite Color

Blue, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of D'Army Bailey's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes how working at People's Drugstore exposed him to African American history and current events

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes his mother's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey talks about his mother's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes his mother's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey talks about attending Rosebud Elementary School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey talks about not knowing much about his family history

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes his father's job as a train porter for the Illinois Central Railroad

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes growing up in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes being hit with a rock during a fight

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey talks about South Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey talks about his high school principal, Blair T. Hunt

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey describes his performance and the teachers who influenced him at Booker T. Washington High School, in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes being chastised for passing a sex book around his classroom

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey talks about the social standing of his elementary school teacher, Mrs. Rulack

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey reflects upon being punished for passing a sex book around his classroom

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey talks about his role models during his youth

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey talks about his acceptance of segregation as a youth

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes his involvement with the Shelby County Democratic Club as a high school student

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes his experiences attending Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey talks about his high school history teacher, Nat Dee Williams

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - D'Army Bailey describes how students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were exposed to the Civil Rights Movement in 1960

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey talks about attending the United States National Student Association Conference in 1960

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes protesting the arrest of Southern University students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes protesting the arrest of Southern University students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes protesting the arrest of Southern University students in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pt. 3

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes his expulsion from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey talks about his political science professor, Professor Adolph Reed, Sr.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes his parents' reaction to his expulsion from Southern University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey describes enrolling at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes inviting Malcom X to speak at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes transferring from Boston University School of Law to Yale Law School

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes serving as National Director of the Students Civil Rights Research Council

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey talks about Abbot "Abbie" Hoffman

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey talks about being fired from the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes administering a trust and working for the Field Foundation

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes serving as Chairman of the Board for Berkeley Legal Services

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes the San Francisco Bay area in California

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes running for a seat on the Berkeley City Council in 1971, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes running for a seat on the Berkeley City Council in 1971, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes running for a seat on the Berkeley City Council in 1971, pt. 3

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes winning a seat on the Berkeley City Council in 1971

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes the challenges he faced upon winning a seat on the Berkeley City Council

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey talks about falling out with the Berkeley Black Caucus

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey talks about his lack of community organizing training

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey talks about the opposition he faced on the Berkeley City Council

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes his accomplishments as a Berkeley City Councilman, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes his accomplishments as a Berkeley City Councilman, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes his accomplishments as a Berkeley City Councilman, pt. 3

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes the issues he had with the Vice Mayor of the City of Berkeley, Wilmont Sweeney

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey describes being recalled from the Berkeley City Council in 1973

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - D'Army Bailey describes the support he received during the 1973 election to recall him from the Berkeley City Council

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of D'Army Bailey's interview

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey talks about his activism as a student at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes his tense relationship with Huey P. Newton

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes why he moved from Berkeley, California to his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee in 1974

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes how he was perceived upon moving back to Memphis, Tennessee in 1974

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes his experiences working as a part-time public defender in the Shelby County Juvenile Court

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes losing his bid to be appointed as Chief Public Defender for Shelby County

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey describes serving on the Shelby County capital punishment defense team

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey talks about representing clients faced with capital punishment

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes his strategy as a defense attorney

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey comments on false and forced confessions and the death penalty

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes his most memorable cases and the challenges of selecting a jury

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes the attitudes of clients facing capital punishment

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey talks about serving on the Board of Commissioners for Memphis Gas, Light, and water

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes the condition of the Lorraine Motel and the surrounding area in the 1970s

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey talks about the area surrounding the Lorraine Motel during his youth

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - D'Army Bailey describes meeting Walter Bailey, and working with him to preserve the Lorraine Motel in the late 1970s

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes the shrine to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Loree Bailey in the Lorraine Motel

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes working with WDIA-FM and incorporating the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation to preserve the Lorraine Motel, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes working with WDIA-FM and incorporating the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation to preserve the Lorraine Motel, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey talks about the 1982 foreclosure and auction of the Lorraine Motel

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey shares his early vision for the Lorraine Motel

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes raising

9 million dollars to transform the Lorraine Motel into a museum, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey describes raising

9 million dollars to transform the Lorraine Motel into a museum, pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes Coretta Scott King's response to the development and opening of the National Civil Rights Museum

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes why the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation transferred the title of the Lorraine Motel to the State of Tennessee

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey talks about the closure of the Lorraine Motel and Jacqueline Smith, who protested the development of the National Civil Rights Museum

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey talks about polarization on the board of the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes resigning as Chairman of the Board of the Lorraine Civil Rights Museum Foundation

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey critiques Pitt Hyde, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National Civil Rights Museum

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey comments on corporate sponsorship of the National Civil Rights Museum and African-American led organizations

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey describes being elected as a Tennessee Circuit Court judge in 1990

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes trying to win an appointment to serve as a Tennessee Supreme Court Judge, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes trying to win an appointment to serve as a Tennessee Supreme Court Judge, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes his experiences serving as a Tennessee Circuit Court judge, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey describes his experiences serving as a Tennessee Circuit Court judge, pt. 2

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey describes presiding over the "Big Tobacco" case

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey talks about being a fair judge

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - D'Army Bailey describes retiring as a judge from the Tennessee Circuit court

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - D'Army Bailey describes owning a film projector during his childhood

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey talks about the start of his acting career in the 1989 film "Mystery Train"

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - D'Army Bailey describes how he was selected for a role in "The People vs. Larry Flynt"

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - D'Army Bailey describes his role as a judge in "The People vs. Larry Flynt"

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - D'Army Bailey describes his role as a minister in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - D'Army Bailey talks about additional movies he has appeared in

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - D'Army Bailey talks about the books he has written

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - D'Army Bailey talks about what he would have done differently in life

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - D'Army Bailey reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - D'Army Bailey talks about his family and his health

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - D'Army Bailey talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - D'Army Bailey narrates his photographs

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$12

DAStory

9$6

DATitle
D'Army Bailey describes how students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were exposed to the Civil Rights Movement in 1960
D'Army Bailey describes presiding over the "Big Tobacco" case
Transcript
Let's -- at Southern University [Baton Rouge, Louisiana] you have, you had a bad experience, well, it was a struggle experience is what it was. I guess I won't say it was necessarily bad, but it was struggle experience, not the kind of experience you hope for in college. But you were kicked out of college or expelled. And over, over political activity, right?$$Yes.$$Can you tell us about that? What happened?$$But to me that wasn't a bad experience. I enjoyed it. I had a wonderful time at Southern. I look back on those years with great joy and great exposure. I had great opportunity. I went down to Southern, and by becoming President of the Freshman lass, I had a little bit of leadership around on the campus. But one important thing -- well, first of all, in my first year, in 1960, the Spring, was when the students at Greensboro [North Carolina] went and sat in and were arrested. And that was around -- I remember because I used to be down in the Student Union. As I said, Southern was a beautiful campus, and the Union was beautiful and I would sit around in the lobby with the manager, talking and different people. And it was a nice, bright day, afternoon. It must have been February, perhaps March. We're just sitting around passing the time. And suddenly some comes in and tells us that some of our students have been arrested downtown in Baton Rouge, sitting in at one of the restaurants. And we didn't know anything about it. We didn't know anything about any planning, any talk about it or anything. But this was after Greensboro. And so then they were put in jail. And the campus immediately was activated about what, what is this? What is going on? And that night we all were drawn to the center of campus and two cars came up, driven one by a Black, leading Black preacher in Baton Rouge, Dr. T. J. Jemison, who later became President of the National Baptist Convention, prominent minister in Baton Rouge. He drove up with these, some of these students that were arrested. And they got out of his car. And that electrified the crowd and they stood and they talked and gave speeches because this was the first introduction of the [Civil Rights] Movement to our campus.$Okay, all right. We were talking about the tobacco case, I'm sorry.$$Yes, I had five, separate lawsuits where individuals had died with cancer, lung cancer. And these were all people who had smoked for some period of years. And those cases, in fact, we had several of those cases around in our county [Shelby County]. And I decided I needed to put those cases to trial. I didn't want them just laying around. And so I got in the lawyers at Philip Morris, Brown and Williamson and R. J. Reynolds. So we had lawyers from all over the country representing the tobacco companies. And I said, look, we're gonna put all five of these cases together and try them in one lawsuit. And the lawyers for the tobacco said--companies said, nah, that'll be too confusing, and then the jury can't understand it. And I said, look, I'm sorry. Smoke is smoke, I'm gonna try all these cases together. So I consolidated the cases for trial. The trial lasted four and a half months. It was one of the longest running trials in Shelby County, highly complicated issues of science. Basically, the lawsuit alleged that the tobacco industry learned in 1954 that smoking caused lung cancer through some scientific research. And they basically kept that information secret. And it was only a few years later that those papers came out, and the litigation on tobacco began. Two of the five cases, I dismissed because of technical reasons that there was just no timeframe that I could interpret that would allow the cases to be timely under our various statutes. The other three went to trial. I must say that that case really reinforced my confidence in jurors because here we had working people who took time from their affairs and came to court every day for that time to listen to what was some highly-complicated evidence and yet, come out with, in the end, with verdicts in all three cases which they came out for the tobacco companies. Tennessee has what we call comparative fault. So if the jury says that the person suing is half at fault or more and the person being sued is half at fault, then the person suing loses. So in one of those three cases, the tobacco industry had argued that the man had been through bankruptcy and had, was a heavy drinker, that he was a risk taker and that because of that, you cannot blame the tobacco industry for its advertising and for its concealment of information, that this man was gonna take risks anyway. And the jury bought that argument and ruled half for the tobacco industry and half for him, which mean he loses, he lost. The other two were plaintiffs who did not have that kind of background, but one was a lady. And the insurance companies argued that [cough] excuse me, that x-rays on her chest showed a lump. Now, it was never analyzed to be cancerous, but they argued that that was breast cancer and that she more likely had breast cancer that metastasized or spread to the lung, than lung cancer. And they brought in high-powered scientists and slides and everything to testify on that. The jury accepted that argument that, that--and ruled for the tobacco industry. In the third one, the man had kidney cancer, and they again used their scientists to argue that, yes, he had lung cancer, but scientifically, we'll show you that he started with kidney cancer. Therefore, the cigarette smoking is not what causes death. So, in all three cases, the industry prevailed. But it was an important case. In fact, they--I had to bring, I had to move the courtroom to a larger courtroom and put in extra tables for the dozen or so lawyers that were in the courtroom in addition to analysts from the stock market who were there watching the trial daily and reporting back because they had to, whatever was gonna happen would influence potentially, the stock on the tobacco companies. And so it was a most significant litigation.

The Honorable Sophia H. Hall

Sophia Hall was born on July 10, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. After attending a parochial school, she went on to the University of Chicago Laboratory School, a high school program for gifted students. Hall attended the University of Wisconsin, earning her B.A. degree in history in 1964, and then attended Northwestern University School of Law, earning a J.D. degree in 1967.

After completing her law degree, Hall joined the firm of McCoy, Ming & Black in Chicago and remained there until 1976. During that time, she was also an administrative assistant to Stanley Kusper, Jr., former Clerk of Cook County, and was an adviser on election law. Hall joined Mitchell, Hall, Jones & Black in 1976, and she remained with them until her election to the bench in 1980. In 1983, she moved to criminal court, becoming the first woman to serve in that capacity in twenty years. She remained in that capacity for three years. By 1992, Hall was the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Division, and today she is the Presiding Judge of Juvenile Justice and Child Protection and is also assigned to the Chancery Division. Former President Bill Clinton appointed Hall to the Board of the State Justice Institute in 1998, where she continues to serve today.

Hall is active on a wide variety of committees, including the Supreme Court Rules Committee and the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee. She is active with a number of professional organizations, including the National Association of Women Judges, and is currently the chairperson of the National Conference of State Trial Judges of the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. Hall is a life member of the NAACP and has served in various capacities at both state and local level. She has been inducted into the Today’s Chicago Woman Hall of Fame, received a Civil Rights Award from the Cook County Bar Association, and appeared in Who’s Who of America 46th Edition. Hall has written numerous articles for various publications, speaks at a wide number of venues each year and has appeared on a number of television and radio broadcasts.

Hall was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 15, 2003.

Accession Number

A2003.107

Sex

Female

Interview Date

5/15/2003

Last Name

Hall

Maker Category
Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

St. Edmund's Parochial School

University of Chicago Laboratory Schools

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law

First Name

Sophia

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HAL05

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

7/10/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pasta

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable Sophia H. Hall (1943 - ) is a judge for Cook County, Illinois.

Employment

McCoy, Ming, and Black

Mitchell, Hall, Jones, and Black

Cook County Board of Commissioners

Circuit Court of Cook County

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sophia Hall interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sophia Hall's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sophia Hall describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sophia Hall remembers her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sophia Hall discusses family members passing for white

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sophia Hall describes her childhood environs on Chicago's South Side

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sophia Hall discusses issues of identity from her youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sophia Hall describes her early interests

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sophia Hall discusses her early interest in the law

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sophia Hall recalls social life at the University of Chicago Laboratory School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sophia Hall discusses her college prospects

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sophia Hall recalls her undergraduate years at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sophia Hall talks about her cultural awareness while at college at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sophia Hall describes her undergraduate studies at University of Wisconsin, Madison

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sophia Hall discusses her law school experience at Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sophia Hall discusses her early interest in folk music

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sophia Hall discusses her law career at McCoy, Ming and Black, late 1960s-early 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sophia Hall reviews her career development

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sophia Hall remembers influential black Chicago judges

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sophia Hall discusses her election as a district court judge

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sophia Hall reflects on her tenure as a criminal court judge

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sophia Hall shares lessons from her judgeship

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sophia Hall reflects on crime and punishment

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sophia Hall discusses race and crime

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sophia Hall emphasizes the role of community in conflict mediation and crime prevention

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sophia Hall describes her involvement in professional organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sophia Hall evaluates reality TV judge programs

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sophia Hall discusses racial change in the U.S.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sophia Hall discusses opportunities for racial equality in the U.S.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sophia Hall expresses her hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sophia Hall considers her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sophia Hall shares her views on affirmative action

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sophia Hall reflects on her life's course

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sophia Hall describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

6$1

DATitle
Sophia Hall reflects on her tenure as a criminal court judge
Sophia Hall shares lessons from her judgeship
Transcript
How is it to be a judge?$$Well, if I was isolated before, I continue to be (laughter). You know, it was a good decision because I really enjoy, you know, trying to do the right thing. And I enjoyed, I enjoyed advocacy, but I really enjoyed having a chance to reach a decision because one of the few positions that you can be in life, when people are going to--well, when you get the last word. Let's put it that way. I started off in the municipal division, as a matter of fact, I was put in the same courtroom that Judge [Edith] Sampson had been in when I used to appear in front of her, so I considered that to be a good omen. And I was doing forcible entry and detainer work which she had for about ten months. Then I was assigned to hear personal injury cases, jury cases, and I did that for about another couple of years, and then I had the opportunity to go to the criminal division to hear felony cases over at 26th [Street] and California [Avenue, Chiacgo, Illinois]. And I was the first woman to go there.$$So you were the first woman, period, to go to criminal court--?$$Yeah. And I had had some thoughts about whether I wanted to do that, but I decided that I needed to do it because most people when they think about judges, think about criminal cases. And I really thought I needed to have that experience and it really was defining because being a criminal court judge puts you in that life and death situation. And the cases, trying the cases, sometimes they were bench trials, mostly bench trials, jury trials also. But the sentencing was yours. So, to the extent that--well, you had to figure out what you were gonna do. And there were some limitations, but generally, the decision was yours.$$Now, can you tell us about some of the more interesting cases or stories that come out of that period of time? I know there had to be some--.$$In the criminal division, I think the cases that I remembered are the automatic transfers of juveniles because generally, it was murder, and there were very young kids involved. They were gang cases. Sometimes the fact situations were very difficult to listen to. Those were difficult. The other cases that were very memorable, one I remember, was a woman who was accused of killing her infant after, after birth. When you look at those kinds of cases, you kind of feel that, that sometimes the people involved don't have as much freedom to choose as we would hope to. You feel that they have choices, but the circumstances are so, sometimes difficult for a lot of reasons. And then, of course, you're feeling, there, but for the grace of God, go I. So, drug cases, where you hope that if you give the defendant an opportunity to go to a drug rehabilitation program, it will take. And you feel that if--that you have the opportunity to give them the opportunity, and if they don't get that chance, they won't have the chance to take it. So you would give them that opportunity, but not often would it take, but I do remember one gentleman, I--he told me afterwards, he went to the drug rehabilitation program because his attorney told him it's either that or jail. (Laughter) So that was his motivation, but he said he really learned, and he had become a counselor after having gone through that. And, and that kind of makes you feel good because you made, you made the right choice and it, it took. So, you just don't know what's gonna happen. I would see my probationers about every three months to support what the probation department did. And it was nice to see some that made progress. And I felt that if the judge remained involved, you knew what was happening during their probation, it might help to motivate. And sometimes it. Of course, sometimes it didn't, but I felt it something that I could do more than just, just imposing a sentence and going on to the next case.$$Is it difficult to find time to do that sort of thing as a judge?$$No, no, you made time for it. And if it's what you wanted to do. After I left the criminal division, I kept up with my probation caseload for another year. And by that time, most everybody was off. But it was a good thing to do. I, I enjoyed that.$$In the criminal--I mean as, I guess just to play the voice of the average person, you know, reading the paper, we wonder, and I wonder if judges have the same--if the wonder the same things when we see some of these criminal cases and some of the awful details, you know, are these people crazy or, you know, or what's the--I mean--that's a funny way to put it--.$$I know what you're saying.$$But sometimes you wonder if people who commit certain crimes are, are--are they insane or are they--people ask are they insane? Are they evil? Are they--is it circumstances that are compelling them or pushing them--?$$Probably all of the above.$$--that they can't, you know, pull themselves out of, I mean--?$$I mean, and when you think about the amount of violence that people live with on a day-to-day basis, so that the idea of committing violence isn't so far away from their life. I think there is a, a kind of cycle. I mean you're in your home. If you're abused--and, and I would look through the, the sentencing reports and very often you'll find broken and--homes and abused children. So they' were used to seeing violence against themselves, against others. And sometimes a very violent crime can be happenstance. So in most cases when you think about it, most crime is fairly pedestrian. And you're not gonna read about that. It's just the very, you know, particularly violent one--but you don't have a whole lot of particularly violent ones. So, but the violence, in your communities, is part of some people's everyday lives.$Are there any specific stories you could tell us, 'cause they're always instruct us, whoever sees this tape in future, hopefully, this will be around for a hundred years--$$Yeah.$$--and it will be some of sort of a record for what was going on in 2003, you know.$$Yeah, well, one of the cases I talk about to, to people, particularly when I'm trying to talk about why it's important that judges have some discretion in sentencing because there always is the notion that a judge's discretion should be limited. And usually that's driven by people who think judges are too lenient. There was one case I had where, this kid lives in the projects. And the so-called gang leader tells the kid to watch the bottom of the stairs in one of these project buildings. And unknown to the kid who was doing the watching, the gang leader is upstairs killing another kid. And, of course, everybody gets arrested. And so this kid goes to trial on an accountability theory. He didn't commit the offense, but because he watched the door while the other kid was upstairs doing the killing and even know--even though this defendant was--didn't know that the killing was occurring upstairs, under the law he would have to be found guilty. And the jury did find him guilty. But all of his circumstances and why he did it, and what occurred all came out during the trial. And I usually, after a case is over, and the jury has rendered their verdict, I'll go into the jury room and I'll ask 'em, you know, how was the experience and, you know, did our staff treat you well. And, and I usually would, would say to them that I didn't want to talk about the case because it wasn't for me to second guess what they did, and always there's a possibility that there might be, a motion to have the verdict overturned. That's always a possibility. This jury was so distraught about this particular kid because they had to find him guilty because the law required it, but they really didn't, as they were expressing to me feel that he was so responsible. And they wanted to know what was going to happen to him. And because they were so distraught, I told them that I had to give him twenty years because there was a mandatory minimum sentence. And under day-to-day good time, he would have to serve at least ten of those years, and there was, there was nothing else that I could do. Well, obviously, that didn't make them feel much better, but it, it was a way for me to kind of explain to them what was going on, and they wanted to know what was going to happen. It's a situation where, you know, you wish that there had been some discretion to really make the punishment fit the offense. And in this instance, under the circumstances that had been presented, there were a lot of mitigating circumstances. But there was no room to--because of the restriction in the sentencing, for me to take that into account. I had to give him twenty years.$$And how do you feel about reactionary legislation that's often put forward when some community figure is killed or some, there's some celebrated case. For instance, 1997 or '98 [1998], Arnold Mireles, who was a community organizer in South Chicago was killed by a couple of gang bangers around a housing issue, you know, that a landlord had. He supposedly hired--he promised to pay a couple gang bangers for bumping off Arnold Mireles, and they--he was killed by a couple of gang bangers. Apparently, they've been convicted. They're in jail now. But the city and some of the resident, you know, cooked up a new piece of legislation, you know, designed to protect people working on community policing. If I understand it, if you kill a person who's organizing in the neighborhood, then your penalty would be more severe than if you killed, say you or I (laughter).$$I know.$$Which is--it doesn't seem to make any sense to me, you know. But it, and this somehow is gonna deter people from killing community activists or something. But that's--and the public gets behind it. They go to Springfield [Illinois] on a bus. His neighborhood's upset. They want to see something done, you know. So they go and they pass this new Arnold Mireles law. But what does that really--do you have, you know, any--those kind of--?$$That's, that's--I mentioned I had taken that law and society, and society uses the law to accomplish whatever it is they, they feel is important. For instance, residential burglary. When I was at 26th [Street] and California [Avenue, Circuit Court of Cook County, Chicago, Illinois], they passed a residential burglary act which said that if you were convicted you got a max--the minimum was two years in jail. Now, when you just think about it, yes, you feel upset if somebody's in your house burglarizing it. But usually those offenders sometimes are first-time, kid offenders. So here you have a first-time, kid offender, if he's found guilty of burglarizing a residence, he's gonna end up with two years. And that doesn't seem to make sense. So and that was at that time. I think they've changed it since then, and certainly since I left 26th and California, but I mean--that's, that's what the society does.

The Honorable DeLawrence Beard

The Honorable DeLawrence Beard was born in Okolona, Arkansas, on December 26, 1937. Graduating from high school in 1956, Beard joined the Navy, and served until 1959, when he was honorably discharged. He then enrolled in the University of Missouri, where he received a B.A. in political science in 1964. Beard began law school at Missouri in 1964, but withdrew a year later. He would later go on to enter the University of Baltimore School of Law in 1967, earning a J.D. in 1970. In 1977, Beard graduated from the Georgetown University Law Center with an LL.M.

After earning his B.A., Beard joined IBM Corporation in Washington, D.C., where he was a senior marketing representative. Even after earning his law degree, Beard stayed on with IBM, finally going on to practice law in 1974. That year, he began as a prosecutor, first in juvenile court, and the next year, moving to felony cases. By 1978, Beard had moved to the position of senior assistant state's attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland, supervising a team of attorneys and prosecuting serious offenses. Continuing his climb, Beard became a judge in the District Court for Montgomery County in 1982, and in 1984 became an associate judge to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Maryland, which is also the appellate court. In 1996, Beard advanced to the position of chief judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court, where he remains today.

Beard is also currently an adjunct professor of law at both the University of Maryland and American University in Washington, D.C. He has lectured to incarcerated individuals, giving them advice on life skills. Beard is a member of several Bar Associations and has received a Governor's Citation in 1998 for meritorious service to the state of Maryland.

Beard is married to Lillian, a pediatrician.

Accession Number

A2003.092

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/26/2003

Last Name

Beard

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Cole Elementary School

Cote Brilliante Elementary School

Charles H. Sumner High School

University of Missouri

University of Baltimore

Georgetown University Law Center

First Name

DeLawrence

Birth City, State, Country

Okolona

HM ID

BEA03

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Arkansas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Mazatlan, Mexico

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/26/1937

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Spicy Food

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable DeLawrence Beard (1937 - ) is a chief judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Maryland. Beard is also an adjunct professor of law at the University of Maryland and American University.

Employment

IBM

Montgomery County, Maryland

Montgomery County District Court

Maryland Sixth Judicial Circuit Court

Mueller's

United States Navy

Remmert and Werner

McDonnell Aircraft

Internal Revenue Service

Human Development Corporation

George Washington University

Washington College of Law--American University.

University of Maryland, College Park

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of DeLawrence Beard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - DeLawrence Beard lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - DeLawrence Beard describes his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - DeLawrence Beard describes the town of Okolona, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - DeLawrence Beard describes why his family left Okolona, Arkansas

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - DeLawrence Beard describes what he knows about his grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - DeLawrence Beard describes his father's background and occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - DeLawrence Beard describes his father's interests

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - DeLawrence Beard describes his mother's family and her personality

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - DeLawrence Beard describes his exposure to arts and culture in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - DeLawrence Beard describes how his parents met and why they moved to St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - DeLawrence Beard describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - DeLawrence Beard describes the segregated communities in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - DeLawrence Beard describes the segregated school system in St. Louis, Missouri and hearing of the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - DeLawrence Beard describes attending Cole Elementary School and Cote Brilliante Elementary School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - DeLawrence Beard describes his experience at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - DeLawrence Beard describes being motivated by Jackie Robinson and by his teachers at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - DeLawrence Beard describes being informed and inspired by the black press and his teachers at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - DeLawrence Beard explains his intentions after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - DeLawrence Beard describes his interest in sports and music at Charles H. Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - DeLawrence Beard reflects on how his childhood neighborhood has changed

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - DeLawrence Beard describes his plans for the future during high school and his employment after graduating in January 1956

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - DeLawrence Beard describes enlisting in the United States Navy after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - DeLawrence Beard describes being transported to the Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - DeLawrence Beard describes being transported to the Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - DeLawrence Beard describes his experiences on the Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 aircraft carrier and his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - DeLawrence Beard describes enrolling and working part-time jobs at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - DeLawrence Beard discusses his understanding of politics while at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - DeLawrence Beard describes being hired by the Internal Revenue Service in 1964

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - DeLawrence Beard talks about moving to Washington, D.C. and being hired by IBM

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - DeLawrence Beard describes marrying HistoryMaker Dr. Lillian M. Beard and re-attending law school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - DeLawrence Beard talks about his awareness of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - DeLawrence Beard recalls the civil rights progress he witnessed in St. Louis, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - DeLawrence Beard explains why he became a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - DeLawrence Beard reflects upon how his marriage and changing cultural attitudes about race motivated him through law school

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - DeLawrence Beard describes his experience at the Georgetown University School of Law in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - DeLawrence Beard describes the positions he held in the Maryland legal system, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - DeLawrence Beard describes the positions he held in the Maryland legal system, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - DeLawrence Beard describes the law courses he taught

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - DeLawrence Beard describes his judicial philosophy

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - DeLawrence Beard describes the demographics of Montgomery County, Maryland and presiding over naturalization ceremonies

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - DeLawrence Beard describes a case he presided over concerning spousal privilege

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - DeLawrence Beard describes a double murder case and a tenant-landlord case he presided over

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - DeLawrence Beard shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - DeLawrence Beard shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - DeLawrence Beard reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - DeLawrence Beard describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - DeLawrence Beard narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
DeLawrence Beard describes being transported to the Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42 aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean, pt. 2
DeLawrence Beard describes a case he presided over concerning spousal privilege
Transcript
So, on the highline when the ships roll toward each other, the line is slacking, the chair goes down. So, you may be 10 or 12 feet above the top of the ocean, okay. But, then when they roll toward each other, obviously they gonna, at one time or another, roll away from each other. And, the consequence of that is, it tightens and you go up in the air, so from being 10 feet off the ocean, you're 75 feet off the ocean, okay. This happens a couple of times and the first time you do it, it's kinda interesting, but after that, you know, boom. So, ultimately, I caught my ship, which is the Roosevelt [Franklin D. Roosevelt CVA-42]. It was a carrier, and I believe it was in Naples [Italy]. It was either Naples or Marseille, France, one of the two, I can't remember. But--no, no, I--we landed in Naples and I got onboard the [U.S.S.] Aucilla and that's when I was transported to a little ship, which landed near the Roosevelt. But, it was rather interesting because growing up in St. Louis [Missouri], the biggest or largest body of water I've ever seen was the Mississippi River. And, the land is essentially flat. It's part of the Great Plaines. I've never seen a mountain, so when we see Mount Vesuvius, as we're flying into Naples, it's a revelation. I've never seen a mountain before. I've seen pictures of mountains, and I thought that was interesting. I've never seen the ocean before, and there I am almost in the ocean. So, it was a revelation and something I'll never forget. And, I'll never forget seeing an aircraft carrier for the first time too, you know, huge. But, I was aboard that ship for a couple of, couple of years and we moved, you know, from Greece, to Sicily, and Southern France, Italy.$Okay. Are there any particularly interesting cases that you can talk about, that, you know, in general terms?$$Some are significant from a legal standpoint and some are not, I would say, they're not legally significant but they got a lot of notoriety, okay. From a legal standpoint, I can think of probably two within the last couple of years. Most people haven't even heard of them, but one involved the concept of spousal privilege. In other words, any communication between spouses cannot be use in a court of law, against one of them. Obviously, in a divorced case what they say to each other, because they're both parties, that's an adversarial situation. But, in a criminal prosecution, you can't use communications between spouses as part of the prosecutor's evidence. Well, this case involved physical abuse and assault, serious assault. The husband was charged with, with assaulting his wife to the point of hospitalization and so forth and so on. Prior to the event, they'd been living in the same house. But, essentially occupying separate bedrooms and only using common facilities like the kitchen and so forth and so on. Something happened, he beat her up rather badly. He was criminally prosecuted for it and she testified against him. A spouse, again, is not a compellable witness. She couldn't have been made by the court or the prosecutor to testify against her husband, but she wanted to testify against him. So, there was no way of preventing that. That is, he could not have prevented it. But, during the period of time between the event and the trial, he had actually called her on the telephone. And, what he said was, he was sorry that he had beaten her up. He apologized and that he regretted his conduct and he wanted her to take him back. And, her response was, don't call me again. I'll see you in court. Which she did. But, when her testimony was offered, her lawyer attempted to get in that apology, I mean, not her lawyer, the prosecutor wanted to get in the apology over the telephone, which is sort of like an admission or declaration against one's punitive interest, when he says that. Anytime, you apologize for doing something, it's essential the same as admitting it. Right. I'm sorry I stole the cookies, you know, and that kind of thing. So, anyway, the defense lawyer said, this is a privileged communication between a husband and wife. It cannot be used. The prosecutor's position was, the whole purpose of the privilege with respect to marital communications is to save the marriage. Judge, this wasn't a marriage (laughter). They were--they were just sharing a house, they were legally connected to each other, but for all practical purposes. Substantively, this was not a marriage. There's nothing to protect. It would be engaging in the practice of futility to exclude this. Besides, here's a statement, but it falls within an exception which makes it admissible called the declaration against one's punitive interest. So, I bought that argument. I allowed it in. And, he was convicted. An appeal was filed. And, it ultimately went up to our highest court, The Court of Appeals. And they said, you know, essentially the privileged communications, privileged communications of the concept of privileged communications between a husband and wife, irrespective of the way the relationship is functioning, it's sacrosanct. And, until the legislature changes it, it remains live and well in this state. It was inappropriate to allow it. The conviction is reversed and it was sent back. That got, a little publicity. Whether it was right or wrong, I don't know. But, this is the way the court system functions. And, this is what trail judges do, you know. Was the guy safe or was he out. You have to call 'em, you know. There's no video tape in the courtroom. Well, you use to be able to say there's no videotape in the courtroom. I'm not sure you can say that anymore. But, but the point is, when you have to make the decision, you have to make it then and there, okay. And, there may be some reason, a good reason, for making it, but sometimes there's no option. There are no (unclear) options, it's either is or it isn't. He's either safe or he's out. It's either a ball or a strike, okay. And, you either let the evidence in or you exclude it, okay. And, the Appellate Courts have to review it and determine the propriety of it, okay. And, that was sort of socially significant.

The Honorable William Cousins, Jr.

Like many Chicagoans, William Cousins, Jr., had his roots in the South. Cousins was born in 1927, in Swiftown, Mississippi. His family moved to Memphis, Tennessee and then to Chicago. Cousins graduated from DuSable High School on the city’s South Side in 1945. He received his B. A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois, where he graduated with honors in 1948. Cousins then went on to Harvard Law School, receiving his LL.B. in 1951.

Cousins served his country as an infantry lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953. He continued as an active army reservist for twenty years and retired as a lieutenant colonel. Cousins began practicing law in 1953 as an attorney with the Chicago Title & Trust Company. From 1957 to 1961, he served as a Republican Assistant State’s Attorney. Cousins entered private practice with the law firm of Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt. In 1967, Cousins was elected as a “Free Democratic” alderman from Chicago’s Eighth Ward.

As an alderman, Cousins worked outside of Chicago’s powerful political machine and was reelected as an independent until 1976, when he ran for Circuit Court Judge of Cook County and won. Over the next twenty-six years, Cousins presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court and the Cook County Circuit Court. He was also appointed to various positions, including chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases. While working as a judge, Cousins also served as Chairman of the Illinois Judicial Council, Chairman of the Judicial Council of the National Bar Association and as a Board member of the National Center for State Courts.

Before election to the judiciary, Cousins dedicated his time and talents to an array of organizations and causes, including Chicago Area Planned Parenthood Association and Operation PUSH.

Cousins was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternities, and Trinity United Church of Christ. He was also a member of the halls of fame of the National Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, and DuSable High School.

In 2005, Hiroko, Cousins’ wife for fifty-two years, made her transition to eternal life. He had four adult children: Cheryl, Noel, Yul and Gail and four grandchildren.

Cousins passed away on January 20, 2018 at age 90.

Accession Number

A2003.009

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/16/2003

Last Name

Cousins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Greenwood Elementary School

Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School

Du Sable Leadership Academy

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Harvard Law School

First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Swiftown

HM ID

COU01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Be prepared.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/6/1927

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Death Date

1/20/2018

Short Description

Circuit court judge The Honorable William Cousins, Jr. (1927 - 2018 ) was elected as Circuit Court Judge of Cook County, and presided as a judge on the Illinois Appellate Court. He was also appointed chairman of the Illinois Judicial Conference and as a member of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Capital Cases.

Employment

Chicago Title and Trust Company

States Attorney's Office, Chicago

Turner, Cousins, Gavin and Watt, Chicago

Lafontant, Gibson, Fisher and Cousins, Chicago

City of Chicago

State of Illinois

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Cousins interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Cousins lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Cousins recalls his family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Cousins remembers his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers his sister's death

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Cousins recounts growing up in Memphis

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Cousins illustrates growing up under segregation

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Cousins recollects his jobs as a youth

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Cousins discusses entrepreneurship in the Chicago black community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Cousins recalls his motivation to be successful

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Cousins recounts his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Cousins describes the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in the late 1940s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers influential teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Cousins recalls student to teacher relationships at the University of Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Cousins remembers Buddy Young

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Cousins details his experiences at Harvard Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Cousins recounts his military service in Korea

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Cousins discusses his marriage to a Japanese woman

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Cousins recalls his early career with Chicago Title and Trust Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Cousins details his work for the states attorney's office

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Cousins recounts setting up a private law practice

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Cousins recollects his early involvement in Chicago politics

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Cousins remembers becoming a judge

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Cousins lists his contemporaries as a black alderman in Chicago

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Cousins recalls being a Republican in the era of the Daley Democratic Party machine

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Cousins details why he left the Republican Party

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Cousins explains what made him a good judge

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Cousins recounts losing his campaign for Supreme Court judgeship

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Cousins remembers his successes as a judge

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - William Cousins shares his hopes and concerns for the black community

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - William Cousins discusses his parents' views of his success

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - William Cousins considers his legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$4

DAStory

6$5

DATitle
William Cousins recounts growing up in Memphis
William Cousins remembers becoming a judge
Transcript
All right and sir, can you reflect back and give us a sense of what it was like to grow up--growing up in--well in Swiftown [Mississippi] and in Memphis [Tennessee].$$Well, I don't know too much about growing up in Swiftown and I have some--just some fleeting memories that's all. But Memphis I know well.$$All right.$$I knew Memphis from top to bottom in a sense when I was there because I moved around Memphis and went to various places.$$[Simultaneously] Did the family move around?$$Not so much by virtue of moving from house to house. Although we lived in about three different locations as I recall and in one location my parents had a little store and a restaurant, one of the earlier places where we lived. And the last place was a--the third place was a place across the street from a church; it's on South Willard Avenue. But--but I traveled around the city myself as a boy going downtown and to the movies on Beale Street, which was a regular sojourn for me on the weekends to go to the movies early. W. C. Handy Park or the Daisy Theater for that matter. Beale Street then was a place where they said black folks met. They didn't--any blacks to me. And then I had newspaper route I had with a newspaper called the Memphis World. The [Chicago] Defender was in circulation at that time. This maybe--is the mid 30s [1930s] we're talking about this time. And I developed the largest circulation that the Memphis World had in the city. I rode around the city to where maids worked in the houses, you see. I did on my bike. I had a bike and I otherwise traveled. I knew the city well and was acquainted to some extent with what was happening in the city. In those days they had Boss running Memphis--in Memphis. His name was [Edward Hull] Crump, Boss Crump, everything revolved around Boss Crump. The city of Chicago [Illinois] here in Chicago you know, they talk about the [Daley] Machine, Crump. I knew that, you see, that matter. So I attended, you know, grade school there. Three--two different schools and later Greenwood [Elementary School, Memphis, Tennessee] and reached the sixth grade there before my family moved finally to Chicago. One thing I might say about there you know, your neighborhoods were such that blacks and whites lived in a sense in an interstitial situation, blacks on one street and whites on another street. And when you might cross, you know, it wasn't, you know, such as all--it was in some areas, you see? So when I went to school, grade school I passed from my area through white areas to get to the black school that I attended, Greenwood, you see? So--and I recall the circumstances really and can even picture the buildings, you know, we had. Which, of course, they didn't have integration there in their schools but we received a tremendous education in those segregated schools that I--the teachers, some of them I still recall them and how they taught us. And we became acquainted with the Black National Anthem [Lift Every Voice and Sing]. That's one of the songs we sang, you see, at that time. We were familiar with people like Marian Anderson. We were. When I came to Chicago I found less awareness of certain things than I was aware of as a student in Memphis--.$$So--.$$--in grade school.$$So the teachers made a special attempt to make sure that you knew who you were culturally and--.$$I'd say yes.$$Yes.$$Oh yes, oh yes. At the school I was in attendance yes. Right.$$Okay now what was the name of the school?$$Well the last was Greenwood, it's no longer. It's a frame school. It was as things were segregated. If I had remained in Memphis I would have attended Booker T. Washington [High] School 'cause Booker were--which is the school where most black--Negroes was the word then--attended.$In 1976 some new judgeships were, of course, created by the state legislature and ten were judgeships to where people--where the new judges were to be elected from the city of Chicago [Illinois] by votes. Only the city people voted, in the city of Chicago. And I had run for reelection twice in '71 [1971] and '75 [1975] and been elected although they changed the ward dramatically. They took all of Chatham away from me after the first election and gave me--.$$--southeast area.$$--the area east of Stony Island.$$Yeah. They moved--one time they moved me into South Chicago during a court decision. That was a court proceeding there because I had been one of the principal challenges in the city rezoning in 1971. And I said that they had rezoned so that they diluted the black vote and diluted the black strength in wards, so that they could minimize the number of black aldermen. And that's exactly what they had done. And a court had decided that I was partially right, you see. They made a change and gave me South Chicago but then the appellate court looked at that and said, "Well, we're not gonna let that stand. Revert it back to what it was." And it went back. But after election in '76 [1976]--in '75 [1975], I ran for a judicial position in '76 [1976] and the primary--was nominated and took my judicial office as circuit court judge in December of '76 [1976], and have been on the bench since.