Ernest Guy Amsler (1895–1986)

Ernest Guy Amsler, who was born and educated in Mississippi, moved to southern Arkansas with a law degree after World War I and spent forty-five years practicing in Arkansas courts—the last seventeen as a trial judge at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. He retired as circuit judge in the Sixth Judicial District in 1966 to accept an interim appointment to the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Guy Amsler was born on November 9, 1895, in Leakesville, Mississippi, one of eleven children of farmers Jakob Anton Friedrich Amsler and Flora McLeod Amsler, who were Swiss immigrants. He served in World War I, received a law degree from the University of Mississippi at Oxford in 1921, moved to Hamburg (Ashley County) to practice law, and became a deputy prosecuting attorney for Ashley County. He married Ollie Buchanan Sanders in 1922; they had one son. He then abruptly changed careers, moving to Little Rock to become executive secretary of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. The job included legal representation of the agency. In 1935, he went into private law practice with Lee Miles.

When the United States entered World War II, Amsler, then forty-six, volunteered and became attorney for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the war, he resumed his domestic law practice in Little Rock. In 1948, Circuit Judge L. C. Auten died, and Amsler ran for the position unopposed. He would serve unopposed until April 1966, when Associate Justice James D. (Jim) Johnson resigned from the Supreme Court to run for governor. (Johnson was defeated by Winthrop Rockefeller.) Governor Orval E. Faubus appointed Amsler, then seventy-one, to serve the last nine months of Johnson’s term on the court.

Amsler was active in civic affairs in Pulaski County. He chaired the board of trustees of the Arkansas Law School at Little Rock and the board of directors of Goodwill Industries and was president of the Arkansas Judicial Council, which comprised the state’s trial judges.

He died on May 25, 1986, and is buried at Roselawn Cemetery in Little Rock.

For additional information:
“Guy Amsler Dies at 90; Retired High Court Justice.” Arkansas Democrat, May 26, 1986, p. 10A.

“In Memoriam: Judge Guy Amsler.” Arkansas Lawyer (October 1986): 203.

Ernest Dumas
Little Rock, Arkansas


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