The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society

The Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society Governed by a Board of Directors, the NJCHS serves over 2,000 members, the legal profession, historians, court personnel, school children, and the general public.
NJCHS sponsors a number of programs and activities, including: Western Legal History, our scholarly journal; Oral History Program, recording the life stories of judges and other prominent members of the legal profession; Traveling Exhibit Program, displaying exhibits in courthouses, law schools, and other venues throughout the Circuit; and Programming on topics relevant to court history in the Ninth Circuit.

The mission of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society (NJCHS) is to preserve and promote the vibrant history of the law in the western United States and Pacific Islands, and to raise awareness of the important role that the judicial system plays in our society.

Mission: Founded in 1985, the mission of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society ("NJCHS") is to preserve and promote the history of the law in the Western United States and the Pacific Islands as well as educate the community it serves about the judicial system, the rule of law, and other civic values.

Brown v. Board of Education65 years ago -- on May 17, 1954 -- the United States Supreme Court issued it unanimous decisi...
05/16/2019

Brown v. Board of Education

65 years ago -- on May 17, 1954 -- the United States Supreme Court issued it unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education holidng that racial segregation of children in public schools was unconstitutional. Chief Justice Warren wrote for the Court: "in the field of public education the doctrine of 'seperate but equal' has no place," as segregated schools are "inherently unequal." As a result, the Court ruled that the plaintiffs were being "deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment."

The decision did not achieve school desegregation on its own, eventually leaving it to lower federal courts and school boards to proceed with desegregation "with all deliberate speed." Some officials followed this directive, while many school and local officials in the South did not. These events fueled the civil rights movement in the United States. Today, Brown v. Board of Education is seen as one of the most important decisions issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The History of Mother's DayCelebrations of mothers have taken place since the ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals i...
05/13/2019

The History of Mother's Day

Celebrations of mothers have taken place since the ancient Greeks and Romans held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele. Thereafter, Christians celebrated "Mothering Sunday" on the fourth Sunday in Lent by retunring to their "mother church" (or the main church near their home) for a special service. Over time, this holiday shifted to a more secular holiday with children giving their mothers small gifts of appreciation.

In America, Mother's Day can be traced to Anna Jarvis who, in May 1908, organized the first Mother's Day celebration at a church in West Virginia as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. Ms. Jarvis was able to secure the financial backing of a wealthy department store owner named John Wanamaker, who on that same day in May 1908, held a Mother's Day event for thousbands of people at his retail store in Philadelphia. Following the success of her efforts in 1908, Ms. Jarvis worked to get her holiday on the national calendar -- arguing that most holidays of the time were biased toward male achievements. Ms. Jarvis started a letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians urging the adoption of a national holiday to honor mothers. By 1912, many states and towns had adopted Mother's Day as annual holiday and, by 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day.

04/18/2019
A Court for All Seasons

103 years ago today, on April 18, 1906, San Francisco was struck by a massive earthquake. The quake, and the fires that followed, killed 3,000 people and destroyed more than 28,000 buildings.

The Ninth Circuit's headquarters is located in San Francisco in the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse at the corner of 7th Street and Mission. It originally opened on August 29, 1905, just months before the great earthquake and fire, as a U.S. Post Office and Court House. Although the Court's Redwood Room was destroyed by the 1906 fire, postal workers were able to save the remainder of the building. Meanwhile, its surrounding neighborhood consisting of wooden structures and stables was destroyed. The Courthouse became a place where citizens could come and get assistance from the federal government and stood as a gleaming example of perserverance in times of trouble. The following video entitled "A Court for All Season" is a look at the Courthouse's amazing history.

Learn about the historic James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco and the distinguished judge for whom the building is named.

Tax Day - Why is it Usually April 15?Today is the deadline for filing your income taxes - April 15.  Although the specif...
04/15/2019

Tax Day - Why is it Usually April 15?

Today is the deadline for filing your income taxes - April 15. Although the specific date can vary slightly due to public holidays and to accomodate those who suffered regional natural disasters, April 15th is traditionally known as Tax Day. But, this wasn't always the case. How did April 15th become Tax Day?

The United States has not always had a income tax. In fact, citizens were not subject to an income tax until the 16th Amendment was ratified on Feb. 3, 1913, allowing Congress to institute an income tax. They did so via the Revenue Act of 1913, which required anyone with an annual income exceeding the exemption ($3,000 for single filers and $4,000 for married couples) to file a return "on or before the first day of March, nineteen hundred and fourteen." Just a few years later, Congress decided to give taxpayers a few extra weeks and reset the tax filing deadline as March 15 via the Revenue Act of 1918. During this same time, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Daniel C. Roper, refused to grant extensions to taxpayers, but he did establish the procedures for filing an estimate and making provisional payments (similar to the procedure we use today).

The March 15 tax deadline remained the law for almost 40 years until 1955, when the Internal Revenue Service moved the deadline to April 15 purportedly to allow government employees additional time to spread out the peak workload. Tax specialist argue that there was another reason for the delayed timeframe -- pushing back the deadline allowed the government more time to hold on to the money.

Happy Tax Day!

The WPAOn April 8, 1935, Congress passed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the work relief bill that funde...
04/08/2019

The WPA

On April 8, 1935, Congress passed the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935, the work relief bill that funded the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Faced with severe economic hardship of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt championed this national works program that employed more than 8.5 million people on 1.4 million public projects before it was disbanded in 1943. The WPA employed skilled and unskilled workers in a great variety of public work projects throughout the nation.

Here in the west, the WPA was responsible for such iconic projects as the Griffith Observatory (1933) in Los Angeles, Santa Ana City Hall (1935) in Santa Ana, California, the Nevada Supreme Court (1937) in Carson City, Nevada, the Timberline Lodge (1936-1938) in Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon, Hoover Dam (1936) in Arizona, the Bremerton Public Library (1938), in Bremerton, Washington and (while less famous, but similarly iconic) the Boise High School Gymnasium (1936), in Boise, Idaho.

On March 28, 2019, the NJCHS' successful series on "Women in the Law: Going First, Going Forward" made its way to Seattl...
04/01/2019

On March 28, 2019, the NJCHS' successful series on "Women in the Law: Going First, Going Forward" made its way to Seattle and a standing room only crowd. Much laughter and words of wisdom were shared by this outstanding First Women in the Law panel: Loria Yeadon, Mayor Jenny Durkan, Judge Margaret McKeown, Judge Carolyn Dimmick and Kellye Testy. Check out the NJCHS website for the videos of these programs. www.njchs.org

On March 27, the NJCHS was proud to honor Louise Renne as the inaugural winner of the Bill Edlund Award for Professional...
03/29/2019

On March 27, the NJCHS was proud to honor Louise Renne as the inaugural winner of the Bill Edlund Award for Professionalism in the Law. The packed house in attendance celebrated two legal lions -- Bill and Louise -- and left all inspired to believe that the practice of law, done right, can make the world a better place. Congratulations Louise Renne!

Alcatraz:  The Rock 56 years ago, on March 23, 1963, the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay clos...
03/26/2019

Alcatraz: The Rock

56 years ago, on March 23, 1963, the federal prison on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay closed its doors for good. Alcatraz – or “the rock” as it was nicknamed – had a long history of serving as a prison given its location isolated from the mainland by the cold, strong waters of the San Francisco Bay.
In 1850, President Millard Fillmore signed an order reserving the island for military use. Thereafter, a fortress and lighthouse were constructed and more than 100 cannons installed to protect San Francisco. By the late 1800s, the U.S. Army had begun holding military prisoners on the island including citizens accused of treason during the Civil War. During the early 20th century, a new 600-cell structure was built, along with a hospital, mess hall and other prison buildings.
In 1933, the U.S. Army relinquished control of the island to the U.S. Justice Department, who wanted a federal prison to house the most difficult and dangerous prisoners in the country. Construction was undertaken to make the existing facilities more secure and, on July 1, 1934, the maximum-security facility officially opened. Warden James Johnson reportedly hired one guard for every three prisoners on the island, and each prisoner had his own cell.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, Alcatraz typically held 260 to 275 prisoners. Among the most famous of its prisoners was Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and gangster Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz, listed as “Public Enemy No. 1” by the FBI in the 1930s.
Over the years, 14 known attempts to escape were made by a total of 36 inmates. Of these, 23 were captured, six were killed during their attempted escape, two drowned and five went missing and were presumed drowned.
The prison closed its doors in 1963 because its operating expenses were much higher than those of other facilities in the federal system. During its three decades of operation, Alcatraz housed a total of 1,576 men.
Today, the island is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and hosts 1 million tourists each year.

The Foley Family - “One of the most prominent legal families in our state’s history.”  (U.S. Senator Harry Reid) I...
03/19/2019

The Foley Family - “One of the most prominent legal families in our state’s history.” (U.S. Senator Harry Reid)

In 1984, the federal building and courthouse in Las Vegas was dedicated as the “Foley Federal Building and United States Courthouse.” It is the only federal building in the United States named for a family. What makes the Foley family worthy of such a distinction? Generations of distinguished service to the citizens of Nevada.

It all began with Thomas L. Foley, the son of an Irishman who immigrated to the United States during the great potato famine of the 1840s. He was a lawyer and fight promoter in Chicago and a lifelong Democrat. After his first wife died, Thomas L. married Alice Dean, who studied law and worked as his law clerk. The Foley family moved west to the mining boomtown of Goldfield, Nevada in 1906 and began a busy legal practice. This marked the beginning of five generations of the Foley family providing legal and public service to the citizens of Nevada.

Thomas’ son, Roger T. Foley, joined his father’s practice in 1911 after completing his legal studies at the Chicago Law School. Shortly thereafter, Roger T. sent for his future wife, Helene (“Nell”) Drummond. Together, Roger T. and Nell had five sons – Roger D., Thomas A., George, Joseph and John.

Early in his career, Roger T. was elected District Attorney of Esmeralda County. After a fire destroyed much of Goldfield, Roger T. and Nell relocated to Southern California for a brief time before returning to Nevada – this time in Las Vegas. In 1928, Roger T. began a distinguished legal career, serving over the years as a Justice of the Peace, Municipal Judge, Deputy District Attorney, District Attorney and (state) District Judge, before being appointed to the federal bench by President Roosevelt in 1945. Roger T. was the seventh judge to serve on the federal bench in Nevada, serving as the court’s Chief Judge from 1954 until he assumed senior status in 1957.

All five of Roger T.’s sons became attorneys and practiced law together as “Foley Brothers”. In the late 1950s, their firm held the distinction of being the largest law firm in the U.S. comprised entirely of brothers. The firm gradually broke up as the brothers followed their father’s example by entering public service.

•Roger D. originally studied for the priesthood but soon followed his father into law. After serving in World War II, Roger D. return to Nevada and was elected District Attorney for Clark County in 1950, and Attorney General of Nevada in 1958. He joined his father on the federal bench in 1962 and, like his father, continued to hear cases until shortly before his death in 1996. Considered by many to be an “exemplar of judicial ethics,” the Clark County Bar Association named a special Professionalism Award in honor of Judge Roger D. Foley.

•Thomas was elected Attorney General for Nevada, President of the Clark County Bar Association, and State Bar of Nevada before being elected to the state court bench in 1982, where he served until his death in 1993. His son, Michael, was a Clark County Deputy District Attorney.

•George – in keeping with his father’s involvement in the sport of boxing – served on the Nevada Boxing Commission, and was elected District Attorney for Clark County in 1958. One of his sons, George Jr., currently serves as a U.S. Magistrate Judge for the District of Nevada. His other son, Todd, worked in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

•Joseph served on the University of Nevada Board of Regents and in private practice with his son Daniel and daughter-in-law Diana. His daughter Shannon is also an attorney admitted in Nevada, and his daughter Helen served in the Nevada Senate.

•John practiced law in Las Vegas for more than 60 years. He served as a state senator from 1971 to 1974 and was “instrumental in the founding of Nevada’s first legal-aid society, in 1957.” His daughter Elizabeth was the first woman in the Foley family admitted to practice law in Nevada in 1982. Daughter Margaret is also admitted in Nevada and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the NJCHS.

Longtime Foley family friend, U.S. Senator Harry Reed, spoke at the Las Vegas courthouse dedication in 1984 and explained why he felt the honor was so well deserved: “In the Foley family there are many role models to follow: lawyers, judges, senators and even a regent. But the role model that is the most lasting and the most meaningful is that of a family. The youth of today have too few families as role models. The Foley family is tops as a family role model . . . So I hope that in the years to come when people ask, ‘Why is this building called the Foley Building?’ people will respond, ’Because the Foleys were an outstanding family, an example to us all.’”

March is women's history month.In 1891, Idaho became the first (and only) state to have a woman design its state's seal....
03/12/2019

March is women's history month.

In 1891, Idaho became the first (and only) state to have a woman design its state's seal. This woman was Emma Edwards.

Idaho became a state on July 3, 1890 and that same summer a talented young woman came to the state capital at Boise to visit relatives. Emma Sarah Etine Edwards (later she married mining man, James G. Green) was the daughter of John C. Edwards, a former governor of Missouri (1844-48) who had emigrated to Stockton, California where he acquired large land holdings.

Emma was exceptionally well educated for a woman of the time and she had dropped into Boise on her way home from a year spent at art school in New York. What was to be a short visit turned into a lifelong stay, for she fell in love with the city and its people and opened art classes where the young people of the community learned to paint.

Shortly after her classes started, Emma Edwards was invited to enter a design for the Great Seal of the State of Idaho. Acting on Concurrent Resolution No. 1, adopted by the first state legislature, a committee was appointed with instructions to offer a prize of one hundred dollars for the best design submitted.

Artists from all over the country entered the competition, but the unanimous winner was young Emma Edwards, who became the first and only woman to design the great seal of a state. She was handed the honorarium by Governor Norman B. Wiley on March 5, 1891. Miss Edwards’s account of how she came to select the successful design for the seal included this comment: “I said to myself that the seal must represent the principal things of the state, must suggest our hopes for the future, and must depict not only the material side of our growth, but also the ethical.”

In 1957, the Idaho legislature authorized the updating and improvement of the Great Seal in order to more clearly define Idaho’s main industries: mining, agriculture, and forestry, as well as to highlight the state’s natural beauty. Paul B. Evans and the Caxton Printers, Ltd. were commissioned to revise the seal. The official Great Seal of the State of Idaho can be seen on display at the Idaho State Museum. #internationalwomensday

The NJCHS is proud to continue its successful "Women in the Law: Going First, Going Forward" series in Las Vegas, Nevada...
03/12/2019

The NJCHS is proud to continue its successful "Women in the Law: Going First, Going Forward" series in Las Vegas, Nevada. Yesterday's all-star panel included Ninth Circuit Judge Johnnie Rawlinson, Chief District Court Judge Gloria Navarro, Franny Forsman, Becky Harris and moderator Prof. Anne Traum.

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Pasadena, CA
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Robyn Lipsky, Executive Director Rita Haeusler, Chair, Board of Directors

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