Norman Dale Price (1924–1997)

Norman Dale Price was an attorney who spent a notable career at Little Rock (Pulaski County) as a trial lawyer. Soon after getting a law license in 1951 and moving to Little Rock, Price set up a law firm with, among others, state Senator Max Howell, who would become for many years the most powerful person in the Arkansas legislature. Price would become a leader in both the state and national Trial Lawyers Associations, and his career also included a ten-month stint as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

Dale Price was born on February 26, 1924, in Bear Creek Springs (Boone County), a community north of Harrison (Boone County), the youngest of four children of Albert Pike Price and Lucy Emaline Wright Price. His father was, among other things, a real estate broker in Harrison, where Price first went to school, and Fayetteville (Washington County), where he graduated from high school. Price served as an Army Air Force navigator and bombardier in the Philippines during World War II.

He received a bachelor’s degree and a law degree from the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville. On February 2, 1951, he married Josephine Clegg of Eureka Springs (Carroll County); they would have a son. Price made an early political race—for state representative—but lost. (Price would later say he was grateful for this.)

The family moved to Little Rock, and Price set up a practice with Howell (another World War II veteran) and Eugene Worsham. Price would specialize in trial law—representing clients in civil and criminal courts, including family-practice, personal-injury, and criminal-defense cases. He would become something of a legend for his preparation, shrewdness, and toughness. When Price died, W. H. “Sonny” Dillahunty, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said he had dreaded prosecuting cases when he saw that Price was representing the defendant, as he would have to be on his toes and prepared on arcane criminal case law.

Price was president of the Arkansas Trial Lawyers Association from 1967 to 1969. He also became a member of the board of the American Trial Lawyers Association.

Governor Bill Clinton appointed Price to the court when Justice Darrell Hickman, citing “burnout,” retired in February 1990, ten months before his term ended. Price’s ten months on the Supreme Court were uneventful and not unpredictable. In major cases in which he delivered the majority opinion, Price persuaded a majority to hold for the pleaders against such entities as banks and medical practitioners.

Price died on December 7, 1997, after receiving an emergency appendectomy. He is buried in Roselawn Cemetery in Little Rock.

For additional information:
Kondo, Shareese. “Battler in Court Put His Clients at Ease.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 10, 1997, p. 8B.

“New Justice Named Dale Price to Finish Hickman’s Term.” Arkansas Gazette, February 22, 1990, pp. 1B, 6B.

“Supreme Court Justice N. Dale Price.” Arkansas Lawyer (Winter 1998): 42.

Ernest Dumas
Little Rock, Arkansas


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