Law West of Fort Smith
Judge Isaac Charles Parker
"The Hanging Judge"
Judge Isaac Charles Parker
Isaac Charles Parker (October 15, 1838 – November 17, 1896) served as a U.S. District Judge presiding over the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for 21 years. He served in that capacity during the most dangerous time for law enforcement during the western expansion. He is remembered today as the legitimate "Hanging Judge" of the American Old West.
In 21 years on the bench, Judge Parker tried 13,490 cases, 344 of which were capital crimes. Guilty pleas or convictions were handed down in 9,454 cases. Of the 160 sentenced to death by hanging (156 men and 4 women), 79 were actually hanged. The rest died in jail, appealed, or were pardoned.
Judge Parker arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on May 2, 1875, to take over the jurisdiction. At the beginning of his term he had extraordinary powers but by the end of the court he was often vilified in the Eastern newspapers. There was a growing feeling that the Court of Western Arkansas was to bloodthirsty. Congress was eliminating much of the jurisdiction and reducing the powers of the court.

Indian Territory after the Civil War

Courthouse and Jail

Court Room - 1894

The Law West of Fort Smith
A History of Frontier Justice in the Indian Territory, 1834-1896
by Glenn Shirley
Officers of the Court
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