Lawyers

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Entry Category: Lawyers

Rose Law Firm

Rose Law Firm of Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest law firm west of the Mississippi River. The firm traces its origins to November 1, 1820, before Arkansas was a state, when Robert Crittenden, first secretary and acting governor of Arkansas Territory, and Chester Ashley, a land speculator, entered into a “Partnership in the Practice of Law.” This hand-inked agreement remains on display at the firm. Crittenden and Ashley ultimately ended their partnership over political issues, but the firm continued its existence when Ashley partnered with George C. Watkins in 1837. Ashley and Watkins practiced law together until Ashley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1844. In 1852, Watkins became the chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court, …

Rose, Uriah Milton

Uriah Milton Rose was a nationally prominent attorney who practiced in Little Rock (Pulaski County) for more than forty years at what is now known as the Rose Law Firm. He was a founder and president of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as an ambassador for the United States to the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. U. M. Rose was born on March 5, 1834, in Bradfordsville, Kentucky, to Nancy and Joseph Rose. His father was a physician. He was his parents’ third son and had two half-siblings from his father’s first marriage to a Miss Armstrong from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Rose’s mother died in 1848, and …

Sarver, Charles Robert (Bob)

Charles Robert (Bob) Sarver was a war veteran, a lawyer, and the first man appointed commissioner of the Arkansas Department of Correction, established in 1968. Named commissioner during the administration of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, Sarver sought to institute reforms based on a modern and enlightened approach to corrections. He was one of the litigants in the landmark Holt v. Sarver case, which ruled that Arkansas’s prisons were unconstitutional. After leaving the Department of Correction, Sarver worked as a prison consultant and was a college professor in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Bob Sarver was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, on January 3, 1931, to Pennsylvania natives Charles Leasure Sarver and Tenie Elizabeth McCurdy Sarver. His father was an accountant, and his …

Scott, Bob

Bob Scott is a lawyer, politician, and longtime Republican operative. He is best known for his work during Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s administration as a legal advisor on the state’s prisons and as a finance manager. Despite being a Republican his entire adult life, Scott became an outspoken critic of what he came to see as his party’s extremism and abandonment of its core principles and historical legacy. Bob Scott was born on October 6, 1933, in Gravette (Benton County) but grew up in Rogers (Benton County). He was the youngest of three sons born to Rogers native Kenneth Holmes Scott and Missouri native Jeffa June Beck Scott. In September 1940, Scott’s father died in a truck accident while working as …

Semmes, Samuel Spencer

Samuel Semmes was a Civil War veteran, lawyer, and businessman in Mississippi County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He served one term as the county judge. Samuel Spencer Semmes, the son of Raphael Semmes and Ann Elizabeth Spencer Semmes, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 4, 1838. His father, who was later the famed raider of the Confederate CSS Alabama, had moved to Ohio in 1834, marrying Ann in 1837. Semmes was the oldest of their six children. In about 1848, after serving in the Mexican War, Semmes’s father moved his family to near Mobile, Alabama, where Semmes spent his youth. By the early 1850s, he was attending the Jesuit school Spring Hill College in Mobile, …

Shaver, James Levesque Jr.

James L. Shaver Jr. became an influential figure in the Arkansas House of Representatives in the second half of the twentieth century. Over the course of almost four decades in the Arkansas House, he played an important role in shaping policy in numerous areas. James Levesque Shaver Jr. was born on November 23, 1927, in Wynne (Cross County). The son of one-time lieutenant governor James Levesque “Bex” Shaver and Louise Davis Shaver, he grew up in Wynne and received his early education there, graduating from the local high school. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After he received an honorable discharge in February 1946, he attended the University of Arkansas School of Law, receiving a JD in 1951. Shaver married …

Smith, Ray Sammons, Jr.

Ray Sammons Smith Jr. was a lawyer and politician from Hot Springs (Garland County) who spent twenty-eight years as a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and rose to be speaker of the House and majority leader, despite a political bent that often put him at odds with the prevailing political sentiments of the state and his own community. For example, when the legislature and Governor Orval E. Faubus began to enact legislation early in 1957 to deter or limit school integration, Smith was often one of the few votes in either house against any of the bills. When the legislature in August 1958, shortly before school opening, passed a bill written by Attorney General Bruce Bennett and supported …

Solomon, David

David Solomon practiced law for seventy-five years in the riverside city of Helena-West Helena (Phillips County), where for more than a century after the Civil War he and other Solomons were patriarchs of a large Jewish community that played a major role in the city’s and county’s rise as a cultural and economic center of the Mid-South. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Solomon practiced alone until shortly before his hundredth birthday, representing, among others, poor African Americans and whites, often free of charge. He held every position in the Arkansas Bar Association except president, which he declined. In 1975, Governor David H. Pryor appointed Solomon to the Arkansas Highway Commission. David Solomon was born on July 19, 1916, in …

Tebbetts, Jonas March

Jonas March Tebbetts of Fayetteville (Washington County) was a prominent lawyer, judge, and politician known for his abhorrence of slavery and support for the Union during the Civil War. His aid to Union forces led to his later arrest by Confederates, who condemned him to death. But fortuitous circumstances led to his freedom, and he lived a long life. Jonas M. Tebbetts was born on January 5, 1820, in Rochester, New Hampshire, one of five sons of Enoch Tebbetts and Anne Roberts Tebbetts. Tebbetts attended Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire. At sixteen, he was working as a marketing agent selling copies of The Family Expositor by English religious nonconformist Philip Doddridge. As a salesman, he traveled throughout New England, …

Trieber, Jacob

Jacob Trieber of Helena (Phillips County) and Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the first Jew to serve as a federal judge in the United States. Serving from 1900 to 1927 as judge for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Arkansas, he became known in judicial circles as a “genius as lawyer and jurist.” He presided over more than 1,000 cases annually, kept his docket current, and had time to serve many assignments outside his own district. He issued nationally important rulings on controversies that included antitrust cases, railroad litigation, prohibition cases, and mail fraud; some of his rulings, such as those regarding civil rights and wildlife conservation, have implications today. His broad interpretation of the constitutional guarantees of the …

Van Leuven, Kathryn

Kathryn Van Leuven was a pioneering attorney in the early part of the twentieth century. The daughter of a lawyer, she became interested in her father’s work at a young age and subsequently went on to be a leading figure in legal circles, the first woman to hold a number of public positions. Although she was born and reared in Arkansas, her legal career was mostly in the new state of Oklahoma, which was admitted to the union just as she married and settled there. While there are some conflicting reports, the best evidence indicates that Kathryn Nedry was born on February 5, 1888, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). One of six children of John and Catherine Nedry, she grew …

Walker, John Winfred

John Winfred Walker was a lawyer who emerged from segregated schools and society in southwestern Arkansas to wage a sixty-year war on discrimination in Arkansas’s education systems, public institutions, and workforce. Walker’s name became synonymous with civil rights in Arkansas after the initial legal battle from 1957 to 1959 to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Once out of Yale University’s law school in 1964, Walker took over the long-running school-integration lawsuit in Little Rock and also filed scores of lawsuits in federal courts to force recalcitrant school districts across Arkansas to put black and white children in the same classrooms or coequal learning environments. Other suits by Walker and his young partners in one of the …

Walls, A. J.

Andrew Jackson (A. J.) Walls was a Lonoke County pioneer, planter, and elected public official in the early days of the county. He was a state representative, chairman of the State Democratic Committee, and father and grandfather of many prominent Lonoke County lawyers and politicians. A. J. Walls was born on April 2, 1862, in the Pleasant Hills community in northern Lonoke County (about ten miles north of Lonoke, the county seat). He was the son of Jackson Walls, a native of North Carolina, and Catherine Dickerson Cook, who was a native of Tennessee. Tax records reveal that the elder Jackson owned real estate in Pleasant Hills in 1852. He married Catherine Dickerson Cook, his second wife, in 1860. Walls …

Watson, Jack Hearn, Jr.

Jack Hearn Watson Jr. is an attorney and former government official who served in a number of positions, including White House chief of staff, during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. Since leaving the White House, he has continued to be an active member of the legal and civic communities, both at home and abroad. Jack H. Watson Jr. was born on October 24, 1938, in El Paso, Texas. The son of a navy enlisted man and his wife, Watson grew up in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). He earned a BS from Vanderbilt University in 1960, and after a stint in the U.S. Marines, where he achieved the rank of captain, Watson attended Harvard Law School. After graduating in 1966, he …

Wheeler, Lloyd Garrison

Lloyd Garrison Wheeler was a prominent and trailblazing African-American lawyer, political figure, and businessman in Illinois and Arkansas. Lloyd G. Wheeler was born in Mansfield, Ohio, on May 29, 1848. His father was active in the Underground Railroad, but when Ohio passed a law making the harboring of slaves illegal, the family relocated to Chatham, Canada, where Wheeler received his early education. When his mother died, he returned to the United States, settling in Chicago, Illinois. There, he worked at a variety of jobs, including on the railroad and as a shoe black. Throughout this period, his greatest ambition was a career in law. He became the first black mail carrier in Chicago while studying law in the office of …

Williams, Sidney Banks, Jr.

Sidney B. Williams Jr. was a pioneering African-American athlete as well as an accomplished businessman and attorney. The first black man to quarterback a Big Ten team when he was at the University of Wisconsin, he later combined his training in chemical engineering with a law degree to become a leading patent attorney. Sidney Banks Williams Jr. was born on December 31, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Sidney B. Williams Sr. and Eloise Gay Williams. He grew up in Little Rock as the only child in a single-parent household, being raised by his mother. Williams graduated from Dunbar High School in 1954. At Dunbar, he was president of the senior class and also starred in football, basketball, and …