BENCH AND BAR OF WYOMING
|Origin of Civil Law—Purpose of the Courts—Tendency to Criticize—The Lawyer as a Citizen—Territorial Courts—Mention of Early Judges—Under the Constitution—The Supreme Court—District Courts—List of Judges—Minicipal Courts—United States Courts—The Wyoming Bar—Character Sketches of Early Lawyers—State Bar Association—A few Noted Cases—The Race Horse Case ... 462|
| Civil law made its appearance as soon as men began to realize that some system of rules was necessary for the protection of person and property, and at the same time not conflict with the common interest. The legislator and the lawyer were therefore among the earliest agents of the world's civilization. At first the laws were few and simple, and the methods of the primitive courts were no doubt crude as compared with the tribunals of the present. But as civilization progressed, as the occupations and interests of the people became more-varied, as new lands were discovered and commerce began to carry the arts and ideas of one country to another, laws grew more complex and were arranged into codes. A fairly good history of any country might be compiled from its statutes and court decrees alone.|
The law is a jealous profession. It demands of the judge on the bench and the attorney at the bar alike a careful, conscientious effort to secure the administration of justice–"speedy and efficient, equitable and economical." Within recent years courts have been criticized for their delays, and much has been said in the columns of the public press about the need of judicial reform. Doubtless some of the criticisms have been well founded, but, unfortunately, many have condemned the entire judiciary system because a few judges have failed to measure up to the proper standard, and the entire legal profession has been stigmatized as one of trickery because occasionally a lawyer has adopted the tactics of the shyster or pettifogger. In exercising the right of free speech and free press, it should be borne in mind that a large number of the greatest men in our national history were lawyers. John Marshall, one of the early chief justices of the United States Supreme Court, was a man whose memory is still revered by the American people, and his legal opinions are still quoted with respect and confidence by the members of his profession. Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and James Alonroe, who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase and gave to their country an empire in extent, were lawyers. Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, Thomas H. Benton, Salmon P. Chase, Stephen A. Douglas, William M. Everts, Rufus Choate and a host of other eminent Americans wrote their names permanently upon history's pages through their knowledge and interpretation of the laws, and all were men of unquestioned loyalty and love of justice. And last, but not least, stands Abraham Lincoln, self-educated and self-reliant, whose consummate tact and statesmanship saved the Union from disruption.
"To establish justice" was written into the Federal Constitution by the founders of the American Republic as one of the primary and paramount purposes of government. These men also showed their wisdom in separating the functions of government into three departments–the legislative, the executive and the judicial–the first to enact, the second to execute and the third to interpret the nation's laws. States have copied this system, so that in every state there is a Legislature to pass laws, a supreme and subordinate courts to interpret them, and a governor as the chief executive officer to see that they are fairly and impartially enforced.
|For many years the only legal authority exercised over the territory now comprising the State of Wyoming was that exercised by the United States courts. In the winter of 1867-68 the Dakota Legislature (Wyoming then being a part of that territory) passed an act providing that the chief justice should hold a session of the court at Cheyenne, but in July following Congress enacted a law authorizing the formation of a temporary government for the Territory of Wyoming.|
On May 19, 1869, Gov. John A. Campbell, the first territorial governor of Wyoming, issued his proclamation defining the three judicial districts, fixing the time and place of holding the first term of court in each district, and designating the presiding judge therefor. The same day John H. Howe qualified as chief justice of the territory and W. T. Jones and John W. Kingman as associate justices. Under Governor Campbell's proclamation, Laramie County comprised the First Judicial District and Chief Justice Howe was directed to hold the first term of court at Cheyenne, beginning on May 25, 1869. The Second District was composed of Albany and Carbon counties and Associate Justice Jones was assigned to this district, with instructions to hold a term of court at Laramie on June 13, 1869. Carter County was designated as the Third District, with John M. Kingman as the presiding judge. He was directed to hold his first term of court at South Pass City on June 22, 1869. By this proclamation the legal machinery of Wyoming Territory was set in motion.
John H. Howe, the first chief justice of the territory, was born at Riga, Monroe County, N. Y., but before he had attained to his majority he went to Kingsville, Ohio, where he received a liberal education. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar and practiced in the Ohio courts for several years, in the meantime taking an acitve part in politics as a whig. In 1854 he removed to Kewanee, 111., and a year or two later was elected judge of the Sixth Judicial District. In i860 he joined the republican party and made a numiber of campaign speeches in support of Abraham Lincoln for the Presidency. In 1861 he enlisted in the Union army and rose to the rank of brigadier-general. At the close of the war he returned to Kewanee and practiced his profession there until appointed chief justice for Wyoming on April 6, 1869.
Judge Howe was an able lawyer, but he is said to have been extremely irritable and peevish at times, which had a tendency to render him unpopular with the attorneys who practiced in his court. This condition was doubtless due to the state of his health, but it nevertheless interfered with his judicial work. The first Territorial Legislature passed an act giving women the right to vote, hold office and serve on juries, which was approved by the Federal Government. Judge Howe upheld this law, which added in some degree to his unpopularity, and this, coupled with the dissatisfaction of the Wyoming people over having outsiders administer their affairs, led to his resignation after he had been on the bench about two and a half years. He was succeeded by Joseph W. Fisher in October, 1871, and then accepted a position as secretary to a commission appointed to adjust some dispute between the United States and Mexico. He died of tuberculosis while holding that office, being about fifty years of age at the time of his death.
William T. Jones, associate justice, was born at Corydon, Ind., February 20, 1842, and was therefore only a little more than twenty-seven years old when appointed associate justice for the Territory of Wyoming. He was educated at the Miami University (Ohio) and then studied law at Corydon, Ind. When the Civil war commenced in 1861, he enlisted as a lieutenant in the Seventeenth Indiana Infantry, was promoted captain of his company and later major of the regiment "for gallant and meritorious services on the field." Although a young man. Judge Jones was endowed with the "judicial mind." He was always calm and collected on the bench, and his rulings and decisions bore the stamp of absolute impartiality. Unfortunately, he was a man of somewhat intemperate habits, but this did not hinder him from winning popularity both with the practicing attorneys and the general public. Before he had completed his term as associate justice he was elected delegate to Congress and was succeeded on the bench by Joseph M. Carey.
The writer was unable to learn anything of the antecedents or early life of John M. Kingman. W. W. Corlett said of him, a short time after he retired from the bench in Wyoming, that he was an able lawyer, but a man of strong prejudices. He was sometimes charged with learning all he could about a case before it came to trial and forming an opinion before hearing the evidence. He was succeeded in 1872 by E. A. Thomas.
Joseph W. Fisher, who succeeded Judge Howe as chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was born in Northumberland, Penn., October 16, 1814. His parents died when he was only a few years of age and he lived for several years with an uncle, attending the common school during the winter months and working on a farm the remainder of the year. When he was about fifteen years old he decided to shift for himself. From that time until he was twenty-one, he was variously employed as a farm hand, a clerk in a general store, and finally as the proprietor of a small tailor shop. During this period he occupied all his spare time in the*study of law. He was admitted to practice in the courts of his native state when he was about twenty-eight years of age and soon afterward became interested in political matters. In 1848 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature. At the beginning of the Civil war in 1861, he enlisted as captain and by successive promotions rose to be a brigadier-general. In 1871 he was appointed chief justice of Wyoming Territory by President Grant and remained on the bench until 1879, when he was succeeded by James B. Sener. Judge Fisher remained in Wyoming after he retired from the bench and continued in active practice until 1890. He died at Cheyenne on October 18, 1900.
The associate justices who were on the bench with Judge Fisher during his tenure of office were: John W. Kingman, Joseph AI. Carey, E. A. Thomas, Jacob B. Blair and William Ware Peck. In 1877 the Legishiture sent a memorial to President Hayes, setting forth that Judge Peck was extravagant, that he had continued a term of court in Uinta County for sixty-five consecutive days, etc.. and asking that he be removed and "some person of practical legal ability" appointed in his stead. The petition was ignored and Judge Peck remained as the presiding judge of the Third District until Governor Hoyt came into office, when he was succeeded by Samuel C. Parks.
James B. Sener served as chief justice until July 5. 1884. The associate justices with him on the bench were: Jacob B. Blair, William Ware Peck and Samuel C. Parks. On July 5, 1884, John W. Lacey began his term as chief justice. The associate justices then were Jacob B. Blair and Samuel T. Corn.
William L. Maginnis succeeded Judge Lacey on July 6, 1887, and served as chief justice until October 1, 1889. Willis Van Devanter then became chief justice and held the office until the admission of Wyoming as a state in 1890. During the period from July 6, 1887, to the admission of the state, the associate justices were: Samuel T. Corn, M. C. Saufley and Clarence D. Clark.
The United States attorneys during the territorial period, in the order of their succession, were as follows: Joseph M. Carey, Edward P. Johnson, J. J. Jenkins. Edward P. Johnson. C. H. Layman, M. C. Brown, J. A. Riner. Anthony C. Campbell and Benjamin F. Fowler.
|UNDER THE CONSTITUTION|
| Article V of the constitution adopted by the people of Wyoming on November 5, 1889, provides that "The judicial power of the state shall be vested in the senate, sitting as a court of impeachment, in a Supreme Court, district courts. justices of the peace, courts of arbitration and such courts as the Legislature may, by general law, establish for incorporated cities or incorporated towns."|
Section 4 of the same article provides that "The Supreme Court of the state shall consist of three justices who shall be elected by the qualified electors of the state at a general state election at the times and places at which state officers .are elected; and their term of office shall be eight years, commencing from and after the first Monday in January next succeeding their election; and the justices elected at the first election after this constitution shall go into effect shall, at their first meeting provided by law, so classify themselves by lot that one of them shall go out of office at the end of four years and one at the end of six years and one at the end of eight years from the commencement of their term, and an entry of such classification shall be made in the record of the court signed by them, and a duplicate thereof shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state. The justice having the shortest term to serve and not holding his office by appointment or election to fill a vacancy, shall be the chief justice and shall preside at all terms of the Supreme Court, and, in case of his absence, the justice having in like manner the next shortest term to serve shall preside in his stead. If a vacancy occur in the office of a justice of the Supreme Court, the governor shall appoint a person to hold the office until the election and qualification of a person to fill the unexpired term occasioned by such vacancy, which election shall take place at the next succeeding general election."
|THE SUPREME COURT|
| Under the constitutional provisions above quoted, Willis Van Devanter, Herman V. S. Groesbeck and Asbury B. Conaway were elected justices of the Supreme Court at the first state election, September ii, 1890. Judge Van Devanter drew the short term, by virtue of which he became the chief justice. He resigned after a short service and was succeeded as chief justice by Judge Groesbeck. His resignation caused a vacancy on the bench, which was filled by the appointment of Homer Merrill, to serve until the next general election. In 1892 Gibson Clark was elected for the remainder of the unexpired term.|
Judge Willis Van Devanter was about thirty-one years of age when he was elected to the Wyoming Supreme Court. After his resignation from the bench he practiced law in Wyoming until 1910, when he was appointed by President Taft to the position of associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, which office he still holds.
Chief Justices–Following the system set forth in the state constitution–i.e., the justice whose term is first to expire serves as chief justice–the following have served in that capacity since the State Government was first established, with the year each entered upon the duties of chief justice: Willis Van Devanter, 1890; Herman V. S. Groesbeck, 1890; Asbury B. Conaway, 1897; Charles N. Potter, 1899; Jesse Knight, 1903; Charles N. Potter, 1907; Cyrus Beard, 1911 ; Richard H. Scott, 1913; Charles N. Potter, 1915.
Associate Justices–Each of the above was elected as an associate justice and became chief justice by virtue of the system of rotation in office. Homer Merrill, of Rawlins, was appointed by Governor Warren as associate justice, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge Van Devanter, and was succeeded by Gibson Clark in 1892. Samuel T. Com was elected associate justice in 1896 to succeed Judge Groesbeck, but resigned before the expiration of his term and never became chief justice. In 1918 the Supreme Court consisted of Charles N. Potter, chief justice; Cyrus Beard and Charles E. Blydenburgh, associate justices. Judge Blydenburgh was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Richard H. Scott, who died late in the year 1917.
| Section 10. Article V. of the state constitution provides that "The District Court shall have original jurisdiction of all causes both at law and in equity and in all criminal cases, of all matters of probate and insolvency, and of such special cases and proceedings as are not otherwise provided for. The District Court shall also have original jurisdiction in all cases and of all proceedings in which jurisdiction shall not have been by law vested exclusively in some other court; and said court shall have the power of naturalization and to issue papers therefor. They shall have such appellate jurisdiction in cases arising in the justices' and other inferior courts in their respective counties as may be prescribed by law."|
Section 19, Article V. reads as follows: "Until otherwise provided by law, the state shall be divided into three judicial districts, in each of which there shall be elected at general elections, by the electors thereof, one judge of the District Court therein, whose term shall be six years from the first Monday in January succeeding his election and until his successor is duly qualified.
"Section 20. Until otherwise provided by law, said judicial districts shall be constituted as follows:
"District number one shall consist of the counties of Laramie, Converse and Crook.
"District number two shall consist of the counties of Albany, Johnson and Sheridan.
"District number three shall consist of the counties of Carbon, Sweetwater, Uinta and Fremont.
The constitution also conferred on the Legislature the power to increase the number of judicial districts from time to time, such increase not to cause the removal of any judge from his office during the terms for which he was elected, and provided that the number of districts and district judges should not exceed four until the taxable valuation of the property of the estate should exceed $100,000,000.
At the first state election, held on the 11th of September, 1890, the following district judges were chosen in their respective districts: First–Richard H. Scott, of Sundance; Second–John W. Blake, of Laramie; Third–Jesse Knight, of Evanston. Judges Scott and Knight afterward served upon the bench of the Supreme Court.
Richard H. Scott was born in Minnesota in 1858; graduated at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., in 1880; studied law and located in Sundance in 1886. He was a member of the constitutional convention in 1889; was elected judge of the First District in 1890 and sensed as district judge until 1906, when he was appointed to the vacancy in the Supreme Court caused by the death of Judge Knight, and was elected at the general election in the fall of that year. In 1910 he was elected for a full term, but died in office before the expiration of that term.
Jesse Knight was born in Oneida County, N. Y., in 1850. He was educated in the schools of his native couiity and at the age of seventeen went to live with an uncle at St. Peter, Minn. Two years later he went to Omaha, Neb., where he found employment as clerk in a store. In 1871 he came to South Pass City, Wyo., as an employee of Sidney Ticknor and the next year he was appointed clerk for the Third Judicial District. While serving as clerk of the court he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1877. He began practice at Evanston and in 1888 was elected county attorney. In 1890 he was elected judge of the Third Judicial District and served until 1897, when he was appointed associate justice to take the place of Asbury B. Conaway, whose death occurred on December 8, 1897. In 1898 he was elected for a full term of eight years and remained on the bench until his death in April, 1905.
By the act of February 9, 1893, the Legislature divided Wyoming into four judicial districts, to wit: First–The counties of Laramie and Converse; Second–The counties of Albany and Natrona; Third–The counties of Carbon, Uinta, Sweetwater and Fremont: Fourth–The counties of Johnson, Sheridan, Crook. Weston and Bighorn (when organized).
Lender the provisions of the act. Governor Osborne appointed William S. Metz of Sheridan, judge of the new Fourth District. This was not satisfactory to some of the people of Johnson County, who instituted proceedings to have the act creating the district declared unconstitutional. On April 24. 1893, the Supreme Court handed down an opinion upholding the act and the appointment of Judge Metz. who served until the election of 1896, when he was succeeded by Joseph L. Stotts of Crook County.
No further changes were made in the judicial districts of the state until March 1, 1913. when Governor Carey approved an act of the Legislature providing for six districts. This was made necessary by the creation of several new counties by the preceding Legislature. The Seventh Judicial District was created by the act of March 2. 1915. Since that time the districts have been as follows: First–the counties of Goshen, Laramie. Xiobrara and Platte; Second–the counties of Albany and Carbon; Third–the counties of Lincoln, Sweetwater and Uinta : Fourth–the counties of Johnson and Sheridan ; Fifth–the counties of Bighorn. Hot Springs. Park and Washakie; Sixth–the counties of Converse. Fremont and Xatrona : Seventh–the counties of Campbell. Crook and Weston.
District Judges–Following is a list of the judges in each of the judicial districts from the time the state was admitted in 1890. with the year in which each was elected or appointed :
First–Richard H. Scott. 1890; Roderick N. Matson. 1906: William C. Mentzer. 1912 (still in office at the beginning of the year 1918).
Second–John W. Blake. 1890: James H. Hayford, 1895 (appointed to the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Blake ): Charles W. Bramel. 1896; Charles E. Carpenter. 1902; Volney J. Tidball. 1912 (still in office).
Third–Jesse Knight. 1890: David H. Craig. 1898: John R. Arnold. 1916 (still in office).
Fourth–William S. Metz. 1893 (appointed when the district was established) : Joseph L. Stotts. i89ri: Carroll H. Parmelee. 19O1.; James H. Burgess. 1916.
In the Fifth. Sixth and Seventh districts the judges are respectively P. W. Metz. Charles E. Winter and E. C. Raymond, each of whom has held the office since the district was established.
|By the act of February 15. 1905. the establishment of a Municipal Court in each incorporated city or town of the state having two or more justices' precincts was authorized. The judges presiding over such courts are known as police justices and are appointed bv the mayor, with the consent of the council. The term of office of these police justices is the same as that of the other appointed officers in the same city or town. Previous acts relating to Alunicipal courts were repealed by the act of 1905. At the close of the year 1917 there were twenty-five towns and cities in the state that had Municipal courts in accordance with the above mentioned act.|
|UNITED STATES COURTS|
| Section 16 of the act of July 10. 1890. admitting Wyoming into the Union provides: "That the said state, when admitted as aforesaid, shall constitute a judicial district, the name thereof to be the same as the state, and the Circuit and District courts therefor shall be held at the capital of the state for the time being, and the said district shall, for judicial purposes, until otherwise provided, be attached to the Eighth Judicial Circuit. There shall be appointed for said district one district judge, one United States attorney and one United States marshal. * * * There shall be appointed clerks of said courts in the said district, who shall keep tlieir offices at the capital of said state. The regular terms of court shall be held in said district, at the place aforesaid, on the tirst Monday in April and the tirst Alonday in November of each year. The Circuit and District courts for said district, and the judges thereof, respectively, shall possess the same powers and jurisdiction, and perform the same duties required to be performed by the other Circuit and District courts and judges of the United States, and shall be governed by the same laws and regulations.|
John A. Riner was appointed United States district judge; Louis Kirk, clerk; Benjamin F. Fowler, United States attorney; and John P. Rankin, United States marshal. The first term of court was held at Cheyenne on Monday, November 3, 1890, in the room used by the house of representatives two years before. The following venire was presented to the court, from which the "twelve good men and true" constituting the first Federal grand jury in the State of Wyoming were selected: E. R. Hurd, foreman, J. D. Nott, E. T. BeUz, Charles Berger, A. H. Herd, F. Bainforth, J. J. Underwood, Gus J. Lehman, Hubert Crofts. Patrick Sullivan, George Gearhard, A. Swanson, G. Gailey, David Fitzgerald. John W. Gray and V. Baker.
At this term the following attorneys were admitted to practice in the United States courts: John C. Baird, A. C. Campbell, W. P. Carroll, Edmund J. Churchill, Frank H. Clark, Gibson Clark, John M. Davidson, Willis Van Devanter. Hugo Donzelmann, Thomas M. Fisher, Benjamin F. Fowler, Frederic S. Hebard. John W. Lacey, Edgar W. Mann, E. S. N. Morgan, Charles N. Potter and W. R. Stoll.
Judge Riner has held the office of United States district judge since the establishment of the court in 1890. The other officers of the court at the close of the year 1917 were: Charles J. Ohnhaus, clerk; Charles L. Rigdon, United States attorney; Daniel F. Hudson, United States marshal.
|THE WYOMING BAR|
| Since the Territorial Supreme Court of Wyoming was organized in the spring of 1869, quite a number of the lawyers who have practiced in the courts of the territory and state have made reputations that extended beyond the state boundaries. It would be almost impossible—and it certainly would be inexpedient–to attempt to give extended mention of all the attorneys who have left their impress upon the legal history of Wyoming, but a chapter upon the Bench and Bar would be incomplete without some notice of representative lawyers who helped to establish the courts and worked for the elevation of their profession, as well as to secure the administration of justice.|
Among the early lawyers of Wyoming, perhaps James R. Whitehead is entitled to be mentioned as "the trail blazer and pioneer lawyer," as he has been repeatedly called. He came to Cheyenne in the summer of 1867. two years before the territory was organized, and opened his law office in a small tent on the banks of Crow Creek, near the point where that stream is now crossed by West Seventeenth Street. He built the first business structure in Cheyenne, the "Whitehead Block," on Pioneer Avenue, not far from Sixteenth Street. He was secretary of the meeting held at the city hall on September 27, 1867, to consider the question of a territorial organization, and was a member of the council in the first Territorial Legislature in 1869. In 1875 he was selected to compile and arrange for publication the laws of the territory. For a time he also had a law office in Hartville. "Judge" Whitehead, as he was often called, died in Denver on March 4, 1918, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. D. V. Barkalow, at the age of ninety years.
W. L. Kuykendall, a brother-in-law of James R. Whitehead, was born in Clay County, Missouri, in 1835, and received his education in a log school house in Platte County of the same state. He removed to Kansas in 1854; served in the Confederate army during the Civil war; came to Wyoming (then a part of Dakota Territory) in 1865, and it is said he took the first homestead in what is now the State of Wyoming, near Cheyenne in 1867. He was the first probate judge of Laramie County; commanded the expedition to the Big Horn Basin in 1870; was elected a member of the Territorial House of Representatives in the Legislature of 1871; was interested in the settlement of the Black Hills country from 1875 to 1880; engaged in the cattle business in 1882; served as city clerk of Cheyenne for three years; foreman of the Pioneer Hook and Ladder Company; secretary of the democratic state central committee in the first political campaign after the state was admitted in 1890, and was the author of "Frontier Events of Early Western History." He died in Denver on March 8, 1915.
One of the best known of the early attorneys was William W. Corlett, who was born at Concord, O., April 10, 1842. He was attending school at Cleveland when the Civil war began in 1861. when he enlisted in the Eighty-seventh Ohio Infantry. His regiment was captured at Harper's Ferry, Va., and he was paroled. After being exchanged he enlisted in the Twenty-fifth Ohio Battery, which was sent to Arkansas and served in that part of the country until the end of the war. Mr, Corlett then took up the study of law and in 1866 he was admitted to the bar immediately after he graduated at the Union Law College of Cleveland, O, On August 20, 1867, he landed in Cheyenne and soon afteward formed a partnership with James R. Whitehead under the firm name of Whitehead & Corlett. Later he was the senior member of the firm of Corlett & Stevens, and still later was associate with the firm of Riner & Lacey. In 1869 he was defeated by S. F. Nuckolls for delegate in Congress at the first territorial election, and the next year was appointed postmaster at Cheyenne, which position he held for about three years. From 1870 to 1876 he was the prosecuting attorney of Laramie County and in 1876 was elected delegate in Congress. He was one of the active practicing lawyers of Cheyenne for many years; was a member of the city council at different times; served on the school board; was chairman of the commission to revise the laws of Wyoming in 1885, and wrote an account of the early days of Cheyenne, but it was never published. He died at Cheyenne on July 22, 1890.
Edward P. Johnson, who succeeded Joseph M. Carey as United States attorney for the Territory of Wyoming in 1871, was born at Greenbush, O,, August 21, 1842. During the Civil war he served in the Ninety-third Ohio Infantry, which was engaged at the battles of Perryville, Ky,; Stone's River, Tenn,; the military operations around Chattanooga, especially at Missionary Ridge, and was with .Sherman on the Atlanta campaign of 1864. After the war Mr. Johnson entered the law department of the University of Michigan, where he graduated in March, 1867, and after a short residence in Denver he came to Cheyenne. In 1869-70 he was prosecuting attorney of Laramie County, and when Joseph M. Carey was appointed associate justice, Mr. Johnson was appointed United States attorney. This office he held for about seven years, after which he was again elected prosecuting attorney for Laramie County. In 1879 he was elected to the Upper House of the Territorial Legislature, but died on October 3, 1879, short time before the Legislature was convened. Mr. Johnson was a lawyer of excellent ability and was a man of strong personality. Johnson County is named in his honor.
Stephen W. Downey, one of the early lawyers at Laramie, was born in Westernport, Md., July 25, 1839. He received an academic education, after which he studied law and in 1863 was admitted to the bar. About that time he enlisted in the Union army and served to the close of the war. He then practiced his profession in his native state until 1869. when he came to Wyoming. In 1871 he was elected a member of the Council in the Territorial Legislature; was elected to the same office in 1875 and again in 1877. In 1878 he was elected delegate in Congress, defeating E. L. Pease.
John W. Blake was born at Bridgeton, Me., in 1846, and was educated at Dartmouth College. He then entered the service of the United States Government, and in 1869 located at Chicago. In 1875 he became a resident of Laramie, Wyo. He served two terms as prosecuting attorney of Albany County and in both branches of the Territorial Legislature. In 1886 he was president of the Council. Not long after that he formed a partnership with Melville C. Brown, which lasted until the admission of the state, when he was elected the first judge of the Second Judicial District. This office he held until his death at his home in Laramie on February 25, 1895. One who knew him said: "On the bench he was every inch a judge; divested of the toga he was in all respects a man."
William R. Steele came to Wyoming soon after the territory was organized, from New York City, where he was born on July 24, 1842. He had received a good education and been admitted to the bar in his native state, and during the Civil war won distinction as a staff officer in the Army of the Potomac. In 1871 he was elected to the legislative Council and the following year was chosen delegate in Congress to succeed William T. Jones. He was reelected delegate in 1874.
Melville C. Brown, who was president of the Wyoming constitutional convention, was born near Augusta, Me., in 1838. Before he reached his majority he went to California. During the Civil war he was employed as a mechanical engineer in the mines at Boise, Ida., and in 1863 he was elected a member of the Idaho Legislature. In the fall of 1867 he located at Cheyenne and began the practice of law. From 1874 to 1877 he was prosecuting attorney of Laramie County. He then removed to Laramie, Albany County, and practiced there until the state was admitted into the Union. In 1878 he was appointed United States attorney for the territory, which office he held for about three years. He was a delegate to the republican national convention of 1880; was chosen president of the constitutional convention in 1889 : was appointed United States district judge for the Southern District of Alaska in 1900: practiced law in Seattle, Wash., from 1905 to 1908, and then returned to Laramie.
Homer Merrill, who served for a short time as one of the associate judges of the Wyoming Supreme Court, was born at Rochester, N. Y., in 1846. He studied law in his native city and was there admitted to the bar soon after he was twenty-one years of age. In 1872 he came to Wyoming, locating first at Laramie, where he practiced about two years, when he removed to Rawlins. He was for ten years the prosecuting attorney of Carbon County, and in 1880 was appointed supervisor of the United States census for the territory. When Judge Willis Van Devanter resigned from the Supreme Bench in 1890, Mr. Merrill was appointed to the vacancy and served until the next general election.
Samuel T. Corn, who was appointed an associate justice of the Territorial Supreme Court by President Cleveland in 1886, was born in Jessamine County, Kentucky, in October, 1840. His early education was acquired in the local schools, and in 1860 he graduated at Princeton College (now Princeton University) of New Jersey. He then entered a law office at Nicholasville, Ky., and in 1863 he was admitted to the bar. After practicing a short time at Lancaster, Ky., he went to Carlinville, Ill., where he was elected state's attorney in 1872 and held the office for eight years. In 1886 he was appointed an associate justice for the Territory of Wyoming. After about three years on the bench, he retired and began the practice of law in Evanston. In 1896 he was elected to the Wyoming Supreme Court, but resigned before his term expired and removed to Utah, where he is still living.
This list might be extended indefinitely, but enough has been said to show that the bar of Wyoming compares favorably with the bar of other states. The names of such lawyers as David H. Craig, who was for about eight years judge in the Third Judicial District, John A. Riner, Charles N. Potter, John W. Lacey, C. P. Arnold, F. H. Harvey, Hugo Donzelmann, C. E. Blydenburgh, and numerous others, are too well known throughout the state to need any extended mention in this history.
|STATE BAR ASSOCIATION|
| While Wyoming was still a territory, a number of lawyers met and organized a bar association, but it did not last until the state was admitted. After the admission, county bar associations were organized in most of the counties, but the present State Bar Association was not formed until January 25, 1915. A meeting had been held in the Federal Court room in Cheyenne on the 4th of that month, at which the preliminary steps were taken for the organization of a state association, and the attorneys of the state were invited to be present at the meeting of the 2Sth. Every county seat and most of the leading cities and towns were represented and the association started off with about one hundred charter members. At the organization meeting John A. Riner, United States district judge, delivered an opening address of welcome to the visiting lawyers, and C. P. Arnold made an address upon the subject of "Professional Pitfalls."|
The first officers of the association were: C. P. Arnold, president; A. C. Campbell, first vice president; T. W. LaFleiche, second vice president; M. A. Kline, secretary; Ralph Kimball, treasurer.
The constitution adopted provides for the election of officers annually. In 1916 C. E. Blydenburgh of Rawlins was elected president; F. H. Harvev of Douglas, first vice president; C. A. Zaring of Basin, second vice president; Clyde M. Watts of Cheyenne, secretary; W. O. Wilson of Casper, treasurer.
In 1917 the officers of the association were as follows: A. C. Campbell of Casper, president; W. E. Mullen of Cheyenne, first vice president; P. W. Spaulding of Evanston, second vice president; Clyde M. Watts of Cheyenne, secretary; A. W. McCollough of Laramie, treasurer.
W. E. Mullen of Cheyenne was elected president for 1918: Ralph Kimball of Lander, first vice president; Abraham Crawford of Evanston. second vice president; Clyde M. Watts of Cheyenne was reelected secretary; and Ceorge W. Furguson of Casper was chosen treasurer.
|A FEW NOTED CASES|
| Civil cases involving thousands of dollars, or affecting the rights of an entire coimty or state, are often tried with but few spectators in the courtroom, but a criminal case, especially a trial for murder, rarely fails to attract a large number of people. During the early history of Wyoming such cases were far more frequent than they are at the present time, and it would be impossible to give a complete account of all that have been tried in the territorial and state courts. There are a few cases, however, both criminal and civil, that stand out with greater prominence in the legal annals of the state, and are of special interest on account of the points of law involved.|
In May, 1890, Henry M. Pierce shot and killed George 15. Tait, a native of the Sandwich Islands. The shooting was done on the Shoshone Indian Reservation. Tait ha^d the reputation of being a dissolute character and there were few that mourned his death. Immediately after the deed was committed. Pierce went to Lander and surrendered to Sheriff Sparhawk. telling him just what had happened. A preliminary hearing was had before a justice of the peace, but Prosecuting Attorney Allen refused to prosecute the case, because Judge Samuel T. Corn, of the Territorial Supreme Court, had held in similar cases that the territory had no jurisdiction over crimes committed on Indian reservations.
Pierce was therefore taken before United States Commissioner Moore at h'ort Washakie and was held in the custodv of the United States authorities until the following December. He then employed A. C. Campbell as his attorney, who applied for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted by Judge Riner on December 6, 1890, and Pierce was released. The peculiar feature of this case is that under a state law of Wyoming the offender must be tried at the term of court following the commission of the off'ense. One term of court had intervened between the time Pierce was taken into custody and the time when he was released under a writ of habeas corpus, which prevented him from being again arrested. Hence he went "scot free."
An interesting decision was rendered by the Wyoming Supreme Court on June I, 1891. in the case of Mrs. France, widow of James France of Rawlins, to recover dower in real estate assigned by her husband before his death to John W. Connor and William R. Brown for the benefit of creditors. The suit was brought under the Edmunds-Tucker act of Congress, which became a law on March 3, 1887, without President Cleveland's signature. The Wyoming decision was rendered by Chief Justice Groesbeck, who held that Wyoming. Montana, Arizona, Idaho and New Mexico all had community property laws at the time the Edmunds-Tucker act was passed that gave the wife or widow greater rights than those of dower, and that the Edmunds-Tucker law failed to state whether it was applicable in those territories. As a matter of fact the law was intended to apply to Utah only.
|THE RACE HORSE CASE|
|On October 3, 1895, Sheriff John Ward of Uinta County, arrested a Bannock Indian named Race Horse, upon a warrant issued on criminal information charging the said Race Horse with "the unlawful and wanton killing of seven elk in said county on the first day of July. 1895." For some time prior to this arrest the Indians living in the Jackson's Hole country had refused to obey the game laws of Wyoming, claiming that the treaty of Fort Bridger gave them the right to hunt in that part of the state and kill all the game they pleased. The treaty provision upon which they based this claim was Article IV of the treaty of July 3, 1868, which reads:|
"The Indians (Bannock) herein named agree, when the agency house and other buildings shall be constructed on their reservation, they will make said reservation their permanent home and that they will make no permanent settlements elsewhere, but they shall have the right to hunt on the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists between the Indians and the whites on the borders of the hunting districts."
Race Horse was unable to give bail and was held in custody by the Uinta County authorities until October 7, 1895, when his attorneys filed in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Wyoming a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, based upon the above mentioned article of the treaty. Attorney-General B. F. Fowler volunteered to assist the prosecuting attorney of Uinta County and the case was argued before the United States Circuit Court at Cheyenne on November 21, 1895. The court held that the "provisions of the state statute were inconsistent with the treaty, and as the latter, under the constitution of the United States, was paramount, the statute could not be enforced against the Indians."
Before the arrest of Race Horse, the citizens living in the vicinity of Jackson's Hole had repeatedly protested again-st the wanton destruction of the game and the United States sent troops into the northern part of Uinta (now Lincoln) County to prevent open hostilities. When Race Horse was released by the court upon habeas corpus proceedings, the dissatisfaction in the western part of the state was universal, while the Indians were highly elated over their victory.
Judge Willis Van Devanter, as attorney for Sherilif Ward, took an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. That tribunal, on May 25, 1896, rendered an opinion reversing the decision of the Circuit Court. The Supreme Court held that "the provision in the treaty of July 3, 1868, with the Bannock tribe of Indians, that they 'shall have the right to hunt upon the unoccupied lands of the United States so long as game may be found thereon, and so long as peace subsists between Indians and the whites on the borders of the hunting districts' was intended to confer a privilege of merely limited duration, and was repealed by the subsequent act admitting the Territory of Wyoming into the Union, with the express declaration that it should have all the powers of other states and making no reservation in favor of the Indians."
The effect of this decision was to make the Indians understand that they must observe the game laws of the state, and no further trouble occurred. By an act approved on Februar)- 19, 1897, the Legislature appropriated $1,421.50, "out of the unexpended balance of the appropriation made by Congress to pay the expenses of the constitutional convention,'" to pay the expenses of the appeal. Of this sum, Willis Van Devanter received $1,100 for services and traveling expenses to Washington, and the Stock Growers National Bank received $321.50 for money advanced to pay the costs of filing the appeal, the state having no funds that could be used for that purpose.