Judge Alton Arnold
Justice Sam Bass, Jr.
William L. Bennett
Alex Bill III
Judge James Blackstock
Judge David Bonnen
Judge E.E. “Red” Brewer
Judge Neil Caldwell
Floyd H. Christian Jr.
Judge Floyd Enlow
Robert R. Farmer
Judge J. Ray Gayle III
Dominique P. Gerard
Judge Garvin Germany
Judge P.R. Goff
Hall W. Griggs
Judge Thurman Gupton
Judge G. P. Hardy
Judge Thomas Harlan
Leland B. Kee
Judge Tom Kenyon
Judge A. Ray Mason
Judge Milam Munson
Robert J. Newton
William A. Orr, Jr.
Senator Jimmy Phillips
Henry “Hank” Prejean
Judge Allen Stilley
Judge O.G. Wellborn
Judge Anthony Willy
Emma Harris, who was the DA secretary in the 40s and 50s, went to law school at night in Houston and became the first female lawyer in Brazoria County. At least, so I was told by my dad who was DA
back then. I do not think she ever did any court room practice.
Cleveland Davis and John Henderson (and Louis Follett, I think) represented some folks in the early 50s –or late 40s- in a land title dispute in what is the Old Ocean oil field. They won and had a contingent fee and made a lot of money. Henderson thereafter would frequently fly to Las Vegas to enjoy the Vegas amenities. Cleveland once bought a diesel powered Mercedes just in case we had a gasoline shortage. It was an extra vehicle in case he needed it.
Wiley Thomas was a decorated pilot in WWII and flew numerous missions. I think he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Wiley was also responsible for the now tradition of hanging the judges’ portraits in the courtroom. Wiley was a great courthouse politician among the judiciary. But he just could not get on Gupton’s good side. One day in chambers, so the story goes, Gup was giving Wiley a terrible time on a case and so Wiley suddenly decided to try again. “Gup” he said, “that is a brilliant idea. You are a great judge and your picture ought to be hanging in the courtroom.” Well, according to Wiley, Gupton’s eyes glazed over and he was overwhelmed by the suggestion and praised Wiley for such a wonderful idea. Wiley seized the moment. He had no trouble getting the other judges to agree to be included in the hanging. Of course, the Bar Association went along. Wiley paid for the portraits and conducted the ceremony himself. I have always thought that Wiley’s portrait should be hanging in there with rest.But it does not work out that way. In hindsight, Wiley did have a great idea as a way to show respect for our system of government and the people who serve although his initial motive was,well, perhaps self-serving.
Carlos Masterson died when I was about 10 years old. He lived in Angleton in a house at Mulberry and Arcola where Masterson Park is now located He had a son Pete who was near Jim Bradford’s age and graduated from Angleton HS. Pete was a cousin of Horton Foote from Wharton who was a well known writer in his day. Well, Pete developed an interest in theatre and after graduating from Rice ended up in New York where probably his biggest accomplishment was co-writing the play (and later movie) Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, which was located just east of La Grange until Marvin Zindler had it shut down in 1973. I suppose that many young Longhorn male students traveling from the Houston area to Austin stopped there from time to time.
In April, Bill (aka Junior) Orr and his daughter (who was driving him ) and I were drinking coffee and visiting with Donna and Judge Marc Holder in his office. I recall mentioning to Bill the planned docket call for deceased lawyers. We thought it was a good idea and intended to go. Sadly, Bill attended as a name on the docket. ” Gee, ain’t it funny how time slips away”. (Willie Nelson, 1961)
Elizabeth Armstrong was the first Brazoria County female lawyer to actually practice. She did mainly family law. As I recall, her passing was rather quickly and somewhat unexpected.
Carroll Kelly played football at Texas and practiced law in Alvin. He retired from the law practice and became the owner of Houston Shoe Hospital.
Hall Griggs was a WWII Navy veteran and for a time served on board ship in the Pacific with my dad. Both later served in the Navy JAGC Reserve and retired as US Navy Captains. In 1957 Hall was a sole practitioner in West Columbia when West Columbia native Kathryn Grandstaff -who graduated from Texas and then went to Hollywood to seek a career- married Bing Crosby. There was a big reception in West Columbia. The Griggs went, my parents went, Judge Gayle’s parents went. Heck, “everybody” went to meet Bing.He had been the biggest selling recording artist in the world( White Christmas and many others) and was an Academy Award winning actor. Kathryn’s folks had to borrow some extra air conditioning window units to keep the house cool for all of the guests.My dad’s only comment about meeting Bing was “he sure is short”. I think Bing was about 5’6″. Hall’s son, Wes Griggs, was in elementary school at the time and one day his teacher told the class they were going to have a visitor. It was Bing Crosby.
Wayne Holder played football at SMU with Doak Walker and Kyle Rote.
Marvin Kanak shaved his head and acquired the Yul Brenner / Kojak look that was popular in the 70s. He later moved to Needville where he was the only lawyer in town.
Jim Mapel was a decorated Vietnam War veteran.
A normal vacation for Bruce Willis was to go to Wimbledon, which he did on several occasions. I think Bruce attended Tulane initially on a tennis scholarship. Anyway, a few years ago Bruce got the opportunity to play a friendly match with Andre Agassi in Las Vegas. Andre carried Bruce and kept it competitive for a couple of games and then Bruce asked Andre to get serious. To play for real. In good humor Andre pointed out that he was retired, past his prime and could not possibly compete on a professional level anymore. But he agreed to do it. Andre served. Bruce told me that it was like bullets being shot at him.He did not return a single serve.
My dad, Sam Lee,Sr, played freshman football at Alabama and became friends with Bear Bryant, who was on the varsity. Dad would occasionally accompany Bear’s girlfriend and later wife, Mary Harmon, to the football games to watch Bear play. After Bear graduated in 1936 dad did not see him again for years. In 1953, when I was 11 years old, dad and I went to Rice Stadium to watch the Owls play the Bear Bryant coached Kentucky Wildcats. After the game, which Kentucky won, we walked down to the visitors locker room and dad told the security guard that he and Coach Bryant had been friends in college and he would like to speak to him. So the guard stepped inside and after a minute Coach Bryant came outside and he and dad shook hands and exchanged greetings. They had not seen each other in about 17 years. Dad introduced me to him. They visited briefly and then Coach said he needed to get back to his team. It was a pleasant visit.
Jerry Dozier played football at The University Of Houston. I think he was a guard. He was a few years behind former Commissioner Jack Patterson, who was a fullback.
I think Dominique Gerard once told me that he was knowledgeable 5 languages. He could speak English, Spanish, French and had a working knowledge of German and Italian.
Judge Caldwell was once named Texas State Artist. Famed personal injury lawyer Ernest Cannon, who occasionally practiced in Neil’s court, once paid Neil $10,000 for one of his paintings. I guess you could say that Ernest knew his art.
It is my recollection that Frank Waltermire was a former FBI agent.
I was once in an argument with Judge Germany about a ruling. I said that he did not know the law on the point. He replied, “It doesn’t matter. I still have a 50-50 chance of being right.
Judge Hardy was among the best at letting both sides try their case. I think it was in the Fall of 1970 that Ogden and I were trying a theft by bailee case. I had not been practicing long. I stood up and objected to almost every question that Ogden asked. Judge beckoned for me to approach the bench and quietly reprimanded me, “Sam, you are going to get your turn.” So I toned it down considerably.
When Ogden passed the witness then I began questioning. Ogden was all over me with objections. Judge Hardy called Ogden to the bench and said, “Ogden, now it is his turn.” After that the trial proceeded smoothly.
Shortly after I was licensed in 1966, I ran into Leland Kee in the courthouse and shook hands and said, “Good morning Mr. Kee.” I had known him all of my life and the courtesy was a habit. He smiled and said, “Sam, your law license is the same size as mine. I’m Leland.” Well, I tried but old habits die hard.
It was known around the courthouse that Stan McGee had been diagnosed with cancer. But he was not one to readily give in to a “minor” obstacle. He kept working as long as he could. And one day I saw him smoking a cigarette near the gazebo. I asked if the doctor had talked to him about smoking and he said yes. When I asked why he was smoking, Stan said, “I like to smoke”. Stan did things his way.
I think Frank Lima’s hobby was wood carving.
Sam Bass ran as a republican for the appellate court in 1980. He won. I later asked him if he was surprised. He said not really because he thought he would get benefit of Reagan coat tails. Also, he had name recognition because Sam Bass was a legendary Texas outlaw. He was right on both counts. Folks voted for Sam Bass.
Once upon a time in the late 1980s Elliott Knott ( former 1st Assistant DA under Jim Mapel ) and Dale Summa and Steve Crenshaw and I used to play a little golf together. I remember a particular day we were playing and talking about politics and Elloitt commented that he had rather be Texas State Amateur Champion than on the Texas Supreme Court. I asked why and he said, “Hell, no one knows who is on the Supreme Court and it would be a lot more fun.”
Sometime in the late 1950s Charlie Britt had an occasion to be in LA in the law office of the famed criminal and divorce attorney, Jerry Giesler. Among many cases, Giesler had represented Errol Flynn in Flynn’s highly publicized rape case
and also represented Marilyn Monroe in her divorce from Joe DiMaggio. Charlie told this story to my dad who related it to me not long after I was licensed. Charlie went into Giesler’s office, where there were several people waiting, and checked in with the secretary. Charlie sat down and almost immediately Giesler, who was with a client, stepped out and shook hands with Charlie and acknowledged his presence and said that he was with a client but that he would be with Charlie shortly. Jerry Giesler had a policy of never ignoring the presence of another lawyer. And Charlie Britt, small town lawyer from Alvin,Texas never forgot the courtesy. The moral of the story is pretty clear. And it is till a good practice, and a few of us do it, but don’t count on it.
Robert R (Bob) Farmer retired from practicing law in about the early 1990s and went to work running his family business I.C.S., Inc. I stopped in to see him one day and asked how he was doing. He said, ” Sam, there are a whole lot of people making a whole lot of money and they are not doing it practicing law.” Well, Bob never came back to practicing law but he would sometimes ask what was going on at the courthouse. So i guess he missed it little. Over 20 years or so Bob had been in practice with Sam Bass, Ben Hardin, Buster Brown and Ogden Bass. They all spoke well of him, and still do.
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