Judges

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Entries - Entry Category: Judges - Starting with C

Claiborne, Harry Eugene

Harry Eugene Claiborne, a native of McRae (White County), was a lawyer, politician, and later a federal judge in Las Vegas, Nevada. Claiborne became known nationwide in 1986 as the first sitting federal judge to be sent to prison and the fifth person in American history to be removed from his or her position through impeachment by the U.S. Senate. Harry Claiborne was born on July 2, 1917, in the Lebanon community just outside McRae. His father, Arthur Smith Claiborne Jr., was a cotton farmer, and his mother, Minnie King Claiborne, was a schoolteacher. Early on, Claiborne gained a reputation in McRae for his speaking ability, and he would often accompany his grandfather to view court proceedings at the White …

Clendenin, John J.

John J. Clendenin was an influential lawyer and judge in Arkansas before and after the Civil War. He also served a short term as a member of the Reconstruction-era Supreme Court of Arkansas. John Joseph Clendenin was born on September 2, 1813, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Not much is known about his youth beyond the fact that to support his widowed mother, as well as his siblings, he worked as a clerk in a Harrisburg-area post office while also gaining some business experience. He also read the law for several years with prominent attorney (and future vice president) George Mifflin Dallas. He then clerked for future senator and secretary of war Simon Cameron. In 1836, Clendenin made his way to Arkansas, …

Cockrill, Sterling Robertson

The chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court from 1884 to 1893, Sterling Robertson Cockrill was only thirty-seven years old when he ascended the bench as the youngest chief justice in the state’s history (a record he still holds). A product of a law school education rather than the old apprenticeship system, Cockrill strongly embraced the codification of legal procedures that the Republican Party had enacted during Reconstruction and thus moved Arkansas more into the nation’s judicial mainstream. Although his tenure on the court was short, his influence was long-lasting. Sterling Robertson Cockrill was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 26, 1847, to Henrietta McDonald Cockrill and her husband, Sterling Robertson Cockrill. Young Cockrill was sometimes identified in Arkansas as …

Compton, Freeman Walker

Freeman W. Compton was an eighteenth-century lawyer from North Carolina who moved to Arkansas and, with his wife’s dowry, acquired a large plantation in Dallas County. He then spent the four years of the Civil War and more as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court. The war had a turbulent effect on both his private life and his jurisprudence. While he was on the Supreme Court but living on his plantation ninety miles away from his office in the state’s temporary capital in Hempstead County, Compton escaped capture by the Federal cavalry by hiding for several days in the attic of the only hotel in the nearby town of Princeton (Dallas County). He was disfranchised and booted from the …

Corbin, Donald Louis

Donald Louis Corbin had a career as a state legislator and appellate judge spanning forty-four years. As a state representative, Corbin developed a reputation as a plainspoken maverick, and, as a judge, a reputation for pushing his colleagues to take unpopular stands, particularly on social issues. As his twenty-four-year career as a justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court was coming to an end in 2014, he had a bitter disagreement with other justices whom he thought had connived to avoid rendering a decision in the controversy over legalizing marriages of same-sex couples. Donald L. Corbin was born on March 29, 1938, in Hot Springs (Garland County), where his father, Louis Emerson Corbin, was a meat-market manager for a Kroger grocery …

Cross, Edward

Edward Cross, who was born in Tennessee and reared in Kentucky, practiced law briefly in eastern Tennessee as a young man and then moved to southern Arkansas in 1826, where he spent a long career in politics and the judiciary but particularly in land speculation and business. He served in Congress, was the state attorney general for a time, and also served on the state’s highest court—first the territorial Superior Court and then briefly the Arkansas Supreme Court. His stints on the appellate courts earned him little distinction in the eyes of contemporaries, but his business instincts did. He helped form and develop the Cairo and Fulton Railroad, which later became the state’s most prosperous railroad, the St. Louis, Iron …