Dallas Bar Anecdotal History Live-Transcript
EAST DALLAS LODGE 1200, A.F. & A.M.
Chartered 8 December 1922
Dallas Scottish Rite Cathedral
To learn, to attain knowledge to be wise, is a necessity for every truly noble soul; to teach, to communicate that knowledge, to share that wisdom with others is equally an impulse of a noble nature, and the worthiest work of man.
ALBERT PIKE, 33
DALLAS COUNTY ANECDOTAL HISTORY LIVE
7:00 P.M. 22 June 1999
Welcome and Pledge of Allegiance………….John Vance,
Opening Prayer………………………….David Scoggins,
Introduction of Lodge Officers 1998-1999…..John Vance, W.M.
Introduction of Lodge Officers 1999-2000…..James C. Bowles,
Introduction of Speakers…………………Ed Mason, M.M.
THE HISTORIANS SPEAK
Announcement of Coming Attractions………..John Vance, W.M.
Closing Prayer………………………….David Scoggins,
I N D E X:
Welcome by Judge John Vance ………………………………1
Pledge of Allegiance …………………………………….1
Opening Prayer by Mr. David Scoggins ………………………1
Introductions by Judge Vance ……………………………..1
Introductions by Sheriff Jim Bowles ……………………….2
Introductions by Mr. Ed Mason …………………………….3
Magistrate John Tolle ……………………………………5
Mike McCollum ………………………………………….16
Mr. Charles Tessmer …………………………………….27
Mr. Ken Blassingame …………………………………….44
Mr. Dalford Todd ……………………………………….51
Judge Ben Ellis ………………………………………..61
Judge Paul Banner ………………………………………67
Judge Ron Chapman ………………………………………74
Mr. Randy Taylor ……………………………………….78
Chief Doug Kowalski …………………………………….90
Mr. Hugh Lucas ………………………………………..104
Mr. Bill Glaspy ……………………………………….115
Mr. Charles Caperton …………………………………..122
Mr. Jim Barklow ……………………………………….127
Mr. Weinberg ………………………………………….139
Sheriff Bowles ………………………………………..141
Closing Remarks by Judge Vance ………………………….147
Closing Prayer by Mr. Scoggins ………………………….148
JUDGE VANCE: Let me have your
attention, please. We’re running about 15 to 16
minutes late, so maybe nearly everyone that’s going to
be here is here. I want to welcome you. I don’t know
whether this will be a one-time event or not; but if
it is, I appreciate the opportunity to be here and I
thank you for being here because I think you’re going
to hear a lot of things today that you may have heard
before and you didn’t believe. And now it will be
Let me ask you to stand and join me in
the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
(Pledge of allegiance.)
JUDGE VANCE: I’ll ask David Scoggins to
lead us in prayer, please.
JUDGE VANCE: Let me — this event is on
behalf of East Dallas Lodge Number 1200. And I’m the
Worshipful Master of that lodge at this time, which
will soon become Sheriff Bowles. Tom Cox, who is now
standing, he’s the Senior Deacon as of this moment.
Sheriff Bowles is the Senior Warden. I don’t see any
other officers — well, David Scoggins is the chaplain
chapter — he’s a Past Master of this lodge. Larry
Lamb is — I think he’s out front, but he’s the
Secretary of the lodge at the time. I’m just looking
for the Past Masters. Roger Jacobs, who’s a member of
East Dallas, is also a Past Master. Sam Reese — I
didn’t see you with the camera. I’m sorry, Sam. He’s
a Past Master of the lodge. Bob Hurt is a Past Master
of the lodge.
I’m sorry, Brother Hurt, I didn’t see
you. And I didn’t hear you. So I didn’t think you
Don Hilburn, who’s been helping with the
preparations over there, he’s a Past Master of this
lodge. Now, let me ask –and Doug Kowalski here at
the head table, he’s a Past Master of the lodge.
Let me ask Sheriff Bowles, who’s the
incoming master of the lodge, if he would like to
introduce whose people that are going to serve with
him as officers of the lodge.
SHERIFF BOWLES: Thank you, Judge. My Senior Warden will be Tom Cox. My junior Warden will
be James Smith. Hold your hand up, James. And Bubba
King, where are you?
JUDGE KING: Right here.
SHERIFF BOWLES: Bubba King is going to
take care of the downstairs, and Ed Mason is going to
be our Senior Deacon. Is there any more of the lineup
that are here? They’re the only ones I’ve seen.
Okay. Thank you very kindly.
JUDGE VANCE: When you say “lineup” to me,
it makes me a little nervous here.
SHERIFF BOWLES: Well, after the Stars
win, we’ll have a better time on that.
JUDGE VANCE: All right. If we’ll — Ed
Mason, do you want to come up, please?
MR. MASON: It’s my job to introduce the
speakers. I’m just going to tell you who they are.
Looking around here, I know everybody. I’m surprised.
But you only get to know everyone if you’ve been
around a while. This is my 30th year practicing law,
and I’m sure, Mr. Todd, that doesn’t sound like a lot
to you. How long have you been practicing, Mr. Todd?
MR. TODD: 60
MR. MASON: 60 years. It’s my good
fortune to be with Whit Sessions, a lawyer some of you
might know. And I think Whitley practiced 58 years.
Doug Kowalski is Assistant Chief of Police. Hugh
Lucas, is that you, Hugh? And Ron Chapman, former
district court judge, former assistant district
attorney, former appellate judge, and now visiting
judge. Bill Glaspy who has more fun practicing law
than any man I ever met. Of course, Sheriff Bowles,
Judge Vance, Charles Caperton who a lot of the stories
are about. Mr. James Barklow who — the only time I
ever know of anybody trying to break out of prison to
kill the prosecutors was a man named
that Mr. Barklow and I prosecuted in Judge
Zimmerman’s court one time. And he was so mad at us
that we prosecuted his brother and gave him a life
sentence the next week. And then he did break out of
federal prison. But he was, unfortunately, going to
kill Judge Zimmerman before he got to us. And he got
caught down in Houston trying to hire some FBI agent
to do dirty deed.
And my mentor at law, John Tolle. I met
John in 1969 and was amazed the day I met him because
he told me he was 39 years old and he looked like he
was about 29. And I have to say that I don’t know how
old you are, John, but you don’t look a day older now
than you did then.
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: I wasn’t that old
then either. You’re close.
MR. MASON: Kenneth Blassingame is a
lawyer that I’ve known, tried cases with, tried cases
against. And I imagine alot of the stories we might
tell tonight would be about Kenneth.
Judge Ellis has trained everybody.
Everybody has Judge Ellis stories. I’m sure Judge
Ellis has stories about everybody.
Mr. Weinberg is probably one of the most
brilliant lawyers I’ve ever met in my life. He
actually understands the opinions and can recall them
ten minutes — more than ten minutes after he read
Mr. Tessmer has won at the United States
Supreme Court and all the way down to the JP court and
back, a great lawyer of his era and still a great
And Mike and I started work in the
D.A.’s office on just about the same day, didn’t we,
MR. MASON: And he’s still a jar-head,
but he wrote in my book.
I don’t know who’s going to speak first,
and I think it will be up to Judge Vance.
JUDGE VANCE: Thank you. We’re not
going to put any time restraints. You know, we could
say 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15. The only way I know to
stop in my 30-some-odd years of making talks is when I
see my wife get up to leave. I know that if I want a
ride home, I better shut if down because she’s on her
way out. Now I don’t know what to do about that
tonight. I will ask the speakers to remember that we
have at least 16 speakers here right now. Others may
show up. So I’ll ask you to come up here and give it
your best shot and not take all night with it.
And the first speaker I want to ask
is — to come up here is Retired Federal Magistrate
John Tolle. And I’ll just say one thing about him
while he’s on his way up here. I don’t know whether
you’ve heard the term very much, but he was
intellectually honest. And I really appreciated that,
both when I was a prosecutor and when I was a district
judge. Because Mr. Wade had some people working in
their appellate section that would come down and quote
cases to me, and they’d be complete misrepresentations
of what the case said. But never, never that way with
John Tolle. Come up, please.
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: Thank you, John. I
appreciate that. It’s a pleasure to be here tonight.
I get to be the first speaker, so I’ll probably take
everybody else’s stories before I finish here. I’m
going to tell a John Vance story first.
When I was first hired by Mr. Wade, Bill
Alexander who is not here I guess, was the first —
just about to leave as first assistant. John became
first assistant. I was there a couple of years, and
it might have been just shortly before John got
appointed judge. I guess it was 1969. We had an
opening in the appellate section, of which I was the
head of. We had two people in there, so being head of
it wasn’t a big deal. But that’s what we called the
appellate section. We had another opening, and I’m
working late, about 6 o’clock one night. And he walks
in my office, sits down and says, “How would you like
to have so and so” — I’m not going to use any names
here because this guy’s still alive. He might sue me.
He said, ” I’d like to have this guy, Mr. so and so, in
this section.” I said, “You know, he’s a real good
lawyer, but I don’t think I want him.” He says,
“You’ve got him.” And I said, “Thanks for asking me,
John.” So that’s how he ran the office. It was very
I’m going to tell a couple stories about
the federal court because that’s where I spent the
bulk of the last 20 years or so of my life when I got
appointed there. And one of the stories is — it
became sort of a legend. Some of you — a lot of you
may remember Judge Sarah Hughes. All you lawyers do
for sure. She was quite a colorful person, very
outspoken person, very opinionated, but — a very good
judge, but you had to be careful how you dealt with
her because she was very righteous in a way. And
lawyers, when they would plead their clients in
criminal convictions would always advise their client:
“Now when the judge will ask you a lot of questions,
what you want to do is be sure you answer her
questions, but don’t volunteer anything. Answer the
question and then shut up because — don’t get her
So this one particular case concerns a
man who was convicted who pled guilty to a felony of
interstate shipment. And the facts were he had stolen
a tractor trailer truck at a truck stop in Oklahoma
and driven it to Texas which made it a federal
offense, and the truck was loaded with chickens. When
he got to Texas, he got it just somewhere up around
south of McKinney because he got into the Northern
District somehow. He got cold feet, so he drove it
out in the country and parked it behind a barn and
left it, left the truck out there.
Well, I don’t know all the details about
it, but he got caught, so he got indicted and he pled
guilty. And at the sentencing Judge Hughes was asking
him questions about the offense. Those of you who
don’t practice in federal court much, the federal
court is a little more formal than the state courts
used to be. I’m not sure what they’re like now, but
they’re very formal in the sense of procedure. You
have pretrial reports and the probation officer must
present it to the court, and it’s quite a little
ceremony that goes on.
So this probation officer is putting on
this fact situation to the judge; it’s a guilty plea,
and he says, “And the records show that the defendant
stole this truckful of chickens and drove it out to
the country, and they sat out there behind this barn
for a week in summertime until someone discovered it.”
Well, this kind of affected Judge Hughes. So when he
gets up to enter his plea, she says, “Well, did you
give those chickens any food and water?” He said,
“No, I didn’t, Judge.” Answering just the question
she asked. “No, I didn’t, Judge.” “Well, how would
you like to be out in the country five days with no
food and water?” “I wouldn’t like it, Judge.” “Why
didn’t you give them any?” He said, “They was frozen,
There’s a couple more of Judge Hughes,
but I’m trying to figure out how I can tell these
stories here. Well, she had quite a sense of humor.
She loved more than anything a lawyer — a visiting
lawyer from out of town that didn’t know her. He was
sort of her straight man in the court. She liked to
jerk the lawyers around a little bit. So she was
having a docket call. She had her formal docket
calls, all the lawyers down there announcing on their
cases. A San Antonio lawyer, well-known San Antonio
lawyer showed up, quite a prominent fellow actually at
the time. And he says — he announced not ready. He
said, “Judge, I’m not ready on this case.” He said,
“I’m going to need at least three more weeks to appear
ready.” She said, “Well,” she said, “I’m trying a
criminal case today. It’s going to go to the jury
this afternoon, and we’ll try your case next.” “After
this one?” She said, “That’s what ‘next’ means to
me.” I’d kind of like to defer some of this so
that — let’s think of some more here I can do.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: John?
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: Yes.
FEMALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Can you tell
the carpet story, Sarah Hughes and the carpet story?
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: Oh, that’s a good
story. I forgot about that one. I’ll tell you — is
Mr. Kelsoe here? G. H. Kelsoe not here? I’m going to
tell you a story — I’m going to use his name because
this is published in the record.
MR. MASON: It was in the Fifth Circuit,
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: It’s a Fifth Circuit,
about 1969 or ’70. Judge Hughes — this is in the old
courthouse where the post office building is before
they built the new one — had tried for years to get a
carpet in her courtroom. And she finally got one, a
beautiful blue — prettiest thing you ever saw, a
beautiful blue carpet, and she loved it. It was a
beautiful carpet. She was very proud of it.
Mr. Kelsoe was up there trying a
criminal case. He had a client who was a very
skillful numismatic forger. He could forge coins.
What he used to do — I got all this from Bill
Sanderson, my colleague who was the prosecutor at the
time, and so it may or may not be accurate. It’s a
Sanderson story, but it is reported.
This guy was so good, he could heat a
coin at the proper temperature and lift the mint mark
off of it and put it on another coin and make a rare
coin out of one that was not rare because of where the
mink mark was. This is back in the days when the
coins were silver, so it was a little easier to do, I
guess. Well, he’s being prosecuted for this, and the
government’s theory was he had used a propane torch to
do this and there was — this was their argument. And
the client told Mr. Kelsoe, he said, “No,” he said,
“you can’t melt a quarter with a propane torch; it
doesn’t get hot enough.” So Mr. Kelsoe decided he
would demonstrate this to the jury.
It’s his turn to put on his evidence.
He gets his client. The client’s got a pair of
pliers, and Kelsoe has got this torch. And they’re
standing there in front of the jury box. Of course,
the quarter melted and this molten silver fell on the
carpet, set fire to the carpet. And the bailiff jumps
up, and he rushes over with a pitcher of ice water and
makes a big mess putting it out.
And the Court of Appeals in the opinion
which is published — I don’t know the cite, but call
Bill Sanderson, he’ll give you the cite. He remembers
this case very well. Published in the margin of the
case in the colloquy between Judge Hughes and Mr.
Kelsoe, which goes something like this — I’m not
going to be verbatim but something like this. The
judge says, “Are you pleased with your experiment, Mr.
Kelsoe?” Mr. Kelsoe says, “Not entirely, Your Honor.”
And she says, “I can smell the carpet burning. Can
you smell it?” And anyone who knew her would
understand the humor of that because she had a very —
when she got really mad she’d get really quiet and
speak in a very low voice. You can just imagine what
it was like.
And the other Sarah Hughes story will
concern Ed Mason. When we were in the D.A.’s office
together we had a case up there. We — it fell our
luck to try civil rights cases against the sheriff,
and some of our sheriffs had a lot more than others.
And some of you may remember who I’m talking about.
We had plenty of lawsuits at some times in the past.
We had a matter we wanted to present to
the judge, and so I said, “Ed, go up there and see if
she’ll do what — what were we doing? Getting the
case passed or something. Well, something simple.
MR. MASON: Well, we were in Judge
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: But you went to see
her, didn’t you?
MR. MASON: You sent me to tell Judge
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: Judge Hughes.
MR. MASON: — that we were going to be
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: I remember — I
remember that. Right, we were going to be late;
that’s right. We had a trial going in Judge Taylor’s
court. I said, “Go tell her we’re late.” So —
MR. MASON: I had been practicing law
about three months.
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: Ed goes up to her
court. She’s not there in the courtroom. She’s down
in the coffee shop drinking coffee with the courtroom
deputy clerk. He ought to tell the story. Tell it.
You tell it.
MR. MASON: Well, John sent me down
there. You know —
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: I didn’t send you
“down” there; I sent you “up” there.
MR. MASON: — relying on people. But I
went up to judge Hughes. I had never met her, and she
seemed real nice. I was watching her talk at the
table. So I went up and tapped her on the shoulder.
That was mistake number one. And I said, “Excuse me,
Your Honor, but may I interrupt?” And that’s all I
got. She said, “NO, you may not interrupt. What you
may do is you may go to my office and stand in the
doorway. Don’t go in my office and don’t be out of my
office. Stand in the doorway till I get there.”
Well, Judge Taylor is waiting for me in another
federal court. So about 20 minutes everybody is
waiting. I was there until Judge Hughes got up there.
And she asked me what my business was, and I told her.
And she said, “Well, get here when you can.”
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: “I’m right here,
Judge.” Judge Taylor was an easy man to deal with; we
didn’t have any trouble with him, but it was the other
One of the last stories about her
concerns a case I tried shortly before I went to the
Magistrate’s office — about — well, no. It was
earlier than that. Probably ’73 or ’74 we had a
rather involved civil rights case involving a women
who claimed the deputy sheriff had abused her when he
arrested her. The facts were that she ran him off the
road with her car, and he arrested her. And she ran
him off the road and almost killed him because he was
trying to serve papers on her husband. He was a
warrant officer serving civil warrants — civil
Well, we come to trial and they put this
evidence on. And she testified about this, and there
was this ridiculous story. She testified how she had
been abused. Of course, she had no bruises on her body.
And she said he beat her up and knocked a
couple of teeth out of her, and her teeth were all
there. So it was obviously not true — you know, it
was easily proven false, but it was her testimony.
So it came time to charge the jury.
They submitted, oh, good heavens, 50 or 60 requests
for instructions, one of which was an instruction on
excessive force used in an arrest. Under Texas law at
that time — and maybe still for all I know —
excessive force could render an otherwise lawful
arrest illegal. It made a big difference in this
civil rights case. If it was a illegal arrest, then
we had the civil rights problem.
Well, she wouldn’t give the instruction.
And it’s good as gold because it was raised by the
evidence. So I was foolish enough to say, “Judge,” I
said, “if the sheriff doesn’t object” — “I don’t care
if the sheriff objects or not. I object,” she said.
So it went to the jury; they found for the sheriff, of
course. I said, “We’re going to try this case over
because this — that is a lay-down deal. That’s a
Well, those lawyers worked on the brief
on appeal. They filed a brief with like 50 or 60
points of error, and they left that one out. I
couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t believe it.
Well, that’s about all I have to say
about the federal court. I think I’ll defer to
whoever’s next. Thank you all.
JUDGE VANCE: Mike McCollum.
JUDGE McCollum: Thank you, Judge. I’m
way too young to be up here. I can’t believe it.
It’s terrible. I’ve got a couple of things. I’m
sitting down there right next to Charlie Tessmer, and
of course two chairs over is the judge where I tried
most of my cases. I guess Judge Ellis tried 3800 jury
trials in the 28 years he was on the bench, and I
swear I must have tried 3500 of them. I lived down
there for so many years. So it wasn’t until a few
years — I’m going to tell a story about — about how
I met Charlie Tessmer and tell you something that you
may not know about Judge Ellis that I found out about
him not more than five years ago when he was over at
the new courthouse.
As you all know he is — he was the most
patient man in the courthouse; everybody knows that.
And he was the most patient man because he had to be a
judge in front of young lawyers like me. And every
young prosecutor that came through down there, he had
to let them try their cases. And, you know, a lot of
people thought he was real impatient, but he was very
patient because he’s dealing with young lawyers for 28
years. It’s incredible.
And being the patient man that he was on
the bench, I discovered — it must have been five
years ago — something that I know you all are going
to want to know about him. He’s a world traveler, and
he — and one of the things that makes him so patient
is he’s seen everything. And I found this out on a
Friday afternoon. what Judge Ellis used to do is he
used to have bail bond hearings on these adult
education type cases that some of the better lawyers
do, you know. The State callas them obscenities. We
call them adult education cases. And Malcolm Dade for
years has done those. And Judge Ellis believed in
following the letter of the law on any case, and
especially on these obscenity cases there were a lot
of pretrial motions that could be filed. And Malcolm
— of course not for purposes of delay, but for
purposes to assure that he — his clients got full
representation would file about five pounds worth of
motions in each case and he might have 100 of these
cases at a time. And every one of them we’d have to
have a pretrial. When I was a prosecutor, I did the
pretrials down there at Judge Ellis, and then later on
when I got out and I started representing some of
these adult educators I would do them and I’d have
these hearings on Friday too.
And about five years ago Malcolm Dade,
who everybody knows and loves — Malcolm had a bunch
of these cases, and the judge had scheduled this bail
bond hearing for Friday afternoon. And what happens
is at these hearings is the vice have to bring in the
educational videos or the marital aids and show them
to the court so the judge can rule to look at them,
you know, to see if as a matter of law they weren’t
obscene. So the judge at least had to preview them.
Kind of like you have a motion to suppress hearing in
front of a judge on a traffic stop or on a search, and
a judge can rule as a matter of law it’s illegal or it
could say, “No. I find that they’ve met their burden
of proof in front of me, but you can still do that in
front of a jury.”
Well, Judge Ellis would make sure in
every one of these obscenity cases if a lawyer
requested a bail bond, he’d have a bail bond hearing.
So he schedules them for Malcolm, and Malcolm’s got
probably 20, 25 of these cases set one day. And
they’re all device cases. So the vice guys have to
bring all the devices up there. Man, they bring them
in, and the whole courtroom is filled with them. And
Judge Ellis says, “All right. Just set them up, I’ll
go by; I’ll look at every one of them.”
And of course Malcolm, he’s got his
motions and that’s not the only motion he’s got. And
Malcolm has got this monotone voice. And ever since
he got his hearing aid, it’s even worse. And he will
just drone on and put you to sleep. And he’s going
on, “Now, Judge, I’ve got his other motion here.”
“Mr. Dade, I — I see your motion. I’m going to rule
on it. Now, lets get this — let me look at these
devices here.” “Yes, sir, Your Honor.” And then he’d
go around and he’d look at them. “All right. I’ve
looked at this one, this one.” And of course Malcolm
would say, “Now, Judge, I’m not real sure that you
looked at everything over here in this case right over
here.” There would be a box of devices over there.
The judge would go through and look at — say, “That’s
— you know, that could be a dog collar, that could be
something else. I find that’s – you know, that’s
out, that’s out, this is in.” And he was getting it
And Malcolm of course, he didn’t want to
get this — you know, I wouldn’t say — well, let’s
just say it wasn’t in the interest of his client for
these things to get through in one day. Maybe have to
continue the hearing for another week or another
month, who knows. But anyway, Malcolm keeps telling
the judge, “Now, Judge, I’m not sure that you saw all
of this stuff.”
Finally, Judge Ellis, patient man that
he is, finally says — patience was ending. He says,
“Mr. Dade, I have seen that device. I have seen
everything.” “Now, Mr. — Your Honor, I’m not sure
that you looked at this and you know exactly what this
could be.” “Mr. Dade, I have seen everything. Mr.
Dade, I have seen everything. Mr. Dade, I ran a bar
in Shanghai at the end of World War II. I have seen
My God, I had no idea. About two months
later Judge Ellis says, “Mr. McCollum, would you come”
— I’m in there, you know, in the courtroom doing some
pleas and whatever. “Would you come to my office for
a minute?” I go to his office, and he shows me a
picture. And it’s a picture of Judge Ellis, and he’s
got to be 18. I guess he had to be 18 to be in
Shanghai, but he was in the Navy. It had to be 1946,
’47. He’s sitting in a rolled and pleated — remember
those old diners that had those rolled and pleated
booths? He’s sitting in a rolled and pleated booth,
he’s wearing his Navy — I don’t know if it’s
derogatory. We called them gob uniforms. The neat
Navy uniforms the enlisted guys wore which were the
bell – bottom trousers and the — the blouse, the shirt
that goes over the back. He was sitting there with
that. He was in his dark — in his blues. There was
another young sailor there with him. Both of them,
I’m telling you rosy cheek, he was 17, he couldn’t
have been over 17, 18 years old. the two of them were
sitting there, and they’re sitting there with an old
guy in a three-piece suit who looks even older than I
do now and he was a white — he says, “This was our
partner.” He was a white Russian who owned the bar,
but because he was a white Russian he couldn’t own it.
He had to have, for some reason — legal reasons — or
maybe — it might have been that the judge and the
other sailor had to have a While Russian as a part
owner of the bar.
But as God is my witness he owned a bar
in Shanghai before the commies took over and that —
that was the wildest place in the world at that time.
Judge Ellis has seen everything. And that’s why he’s
such a patient man.
JUDGE ELLIS: His name was Sergai Guy
JUDGE McCOLLUM: Yep. And I asked him,
“But do you know Shanghai Jimmy?” How many of y’all
remember Shanghai Jimmy? The judge knew him in
Shanghai. I mean, when I found out, I could not
believe it. That’s a piece of history, and that does
explain why he’s pretty unflappable.
The other thing — I’ll tell a story on
Charlie Tessmer. When I first came to the D.A.’s
office, I was hired by Colonel Westmoreland up in the
appellate section. and I’m not one of these
individuals that has real long patience. I’ve got the
— you know, that attention span of about five — five,
six seconds. So it wasn’t a real good fit for me in
the appellate section. I lasted about six months, and
I could not write another brief. I went in and talked
to Mr. Wade and said, “Look, I know you need some
space up there; you’re looking for some office space.
Give them my office. You know, either fire me or
transfer me. I can’t do another brief.”
So they transferred me down to Judge
Ellis’s court. It was right after the beginning of
the year. It was in January. And Judge Ellis had had
a Charlie Tessmer case that was a year and a half old,
which back then was really old. It was — I remember
the guy’s name was Joe Vic, and he was charged with
aggravated assault, male on a female. And Joe Vic was
a big, old body builder who had broken his
girlfriend’s sister’s leg. Just broke it bigger than
Dallas. I mean, it was no question it was — that he
did it, no question he intended to do it.
And, you know, the women, the
complainant was on of these complainants the D.A.’s
office gets that just, you know, had to have her day
in court. She wasn’t very likable, she deserved it,
but by God the State could not dismiss the case. So
it was one of those cases that hung around and hung
around. And what had happened was all of the
prosecutors kept passing it because they didn’t want
to lose to Charlie Tessmer. And it just kept getting
passed and passed and passed.
I’m the new guy on the block. I show up
down there. And the chief prosecutor says, “You’re
going to — you know, this is a case right here, you
can try this case.” “Well, what is it?” ” Well, it’s,
you know, aggravated assault, male on female, and
Charlie Tessmer is the lawyer.” I said, “Charlie
Tessmer?” I knew him. I mean, when I was in law
school I wasn’t that good of a student, but I knew of
Charlie Tessmer. He was –he was a God. Even to
guys that were crummy law students like me back three
years earlier. I said, “THE Charlie Tessmer?”
“Yeah.” “I get to try a case against THE — I’ll take
it. I’ll do it.”
So I took the case. I actually took it
home the week before like a Friday, worked on it on
the weekend. And on Monday, sure enough, Charlie
Tessmer came in to try the case. And back then
Charlie had just had a little operation and he had to
be in one of those little donuts, you know, the donut
thing. and Hoyt Pinkleton was working for him and he
had Ron Goranson was with him, and Noel Portnoy. And
he walks in with all these young lawyers. and Hoyt is
carrying this pillow with this inner tube on it for
Charlie to sit down on like, you know, the throne for
the king. And he comes in, and of course — you know,
being a conscientious young lawyer, you know, you read
up on what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not
supposed to do in a courtroom. And this is when I
learned a valuable lesson from Charlie Tessmer.
He comes in, and Charlie Tessmer is
wearing a green plaid sport coat. I said, “Holy
mackerel.” You know, green plaid sport coat. Big old
bright tie. He’s got an off-color shirt. He’s got
big old gold cuff links, he’s got that gold bracelet
he’s got there now. Rolex watch, dripping with
jewelry. I said, “Man, criminal defense lawyers are
not supposed to do that. This is — I can’t believe
And he get in there. We start the voir
dire. I do my voir dire, and then Charlie gets up and
— I don’t know. Y’all remember that old
advertisement by E. F. Hutton? “When E. F. Hutton
speaks, everybody listens.” Remember that? That was
popular was back then. Charlie gets up, and he starts
to talk. And it’s kind of like a low rumble. You
can’t really hear what he’s saying because he doesn’t
talk very loud, but it’s a real deep voice. So you
see everybody just kind of lean over, and he took over
the courtroom and they’re all listening to him. So he
captured the courtroom immediately. So I learned
there. That’s the first thing I learned.
So then I — we try the case. I worked
so hard on this case I had a character witness to
testify what a bad guy his client was. The jury goes
out. Now second day of trial I knew I was kind of in
trouble when one of the jurors came in wearing his
Aggie Blazer, and I believe Joe Vic had been to A&M.
It didn’t look real good for the State side. But the
jury went out and — you know, I kept them out five
minutes before they came back and acquitted him.
And the lesson I learned from Charlie,
and I learned a lot of lessons with Judge Ellis trying
so many cases I did down there, trying them against
great lawyer. And Randy used to teach me this
regularly also. The really great lawyers, which I am
not one, but the really great ones can break every
rule and they still prevail. And that was a lesson I
learned from Charlie Tessmer was he can break every
rule that us mortals try to follow to get jurors to
like us, but it doesn’t really matter if you’re a
Those are my two stories. I’ve got a
lot more, but I’ll pass it on, Judge.
JUDGE VANCE: Let me ask Charles Tessmer
to come up. They’ve been talking about you, Charlie.
While he’s coming up, I tried several cases against
him. I tried a murder case where a deputy constable’s
son killed his wife, and I had found a witness to that
that knew the defendant in Marine Corps boot camp out
in California. So I flew out there. I left here at
10 o’clock one morning, flew out there, had a
conversation with him and came back that night, got
home at 10 o’clock. In his jury argument he said,
“Mr. Vance took that pleasure trip to California.”
Come on up, sir.
MR. TESSMER: At the County’s expense.
Thank you very much, Judge.
Ladies and gentlemen of the audience,
I’m very happy to be here. I’m very happy to be
anywhere. And I practiced law a good long time, but
when I heard how long Dalford Todd has practiced,
there’s still hope for me. Maybe many more tomorrows.
Anyway, it’s been a great journey along the way, and I
enjoy every instant I’ve ever had with lawyers.
Before I start on funny business I want
to say something about advertising. You know, all of
us have a feeling against for that or for it, one way
or the other. And I can see how many lawyers
criticize it. It’s a start for young lawyers; it
helps them get started, make money. But listen, you
young fellows who you think you advertise and it’s
helpful to you, we can’t criminalize you in any way
because it was unofficial in my day. People would get
in the jail and someone would go see him, a fellow
with no money, but they would be friendly, leave him a
little spending money back downstairs. And he would
call them, tell everybody in jail up there what a good
lawyer you were. I’m not talking about myself of
course. And you name would be all over the jail.
That’s sort of advertising without paying nothing for
it. Well, maybe $5 in the coffee fund. That’s the
way it worked in those days.
Then there was a way young lawyers got
business then sort of was to tie up with a bail
bondsman before they had enough money to make their
own bonds. and old man named Harris hung around the
jail for years out in front of the county jail. Judge
Ellis knew him well, Judge Vance and all of them, Mr.
Caperton, Charlie. Old man Harris was a mainstay for
some of us. But he could sell us — he would go up to
those people and say, “I’ve got this lawyer for you.”
He said, “I’m Mr. Harris. You’ve got a boy in Jail?
Well, let me take you over here.” He’d take them
across the street to Joe Foster’s office. If they had
some real money, he would take them a little further
down the street. He knew where to stop along the way.
He could judge the client’s ability to pay. So talk
about advertising, that was going on long before you
could put it in the newspaper and many other places.
Anyway, back to the thing at hand here.
I want to say one thing about my history. I saw a
quote by Sir John Feel good, which made me think a lot
about my exciting past. He’s talking to Richard
Burton. He says, “Now, Richard, if you’d straighten
up a little, when you’re a great actor, you cannot
only be a world’s great actor, but you could get a
knighthood.” He says, “Would you rather your social
life be great or would you straighten it up a little
bit?” Well, he didn’t get knight. so I’m thinking
that sometimes when you let your social life get
beyond due bounds, then it’s not good for you or to
anyone. And this isn’t a lecture. I’m just saying I
would slow it down a little. Not at all — turn it
all off at all. But when people brag on me and
remember me, I’m wondering, “What do they remember me
really for?” I’d like Randy Taylor to say something
about that, about my social side.
But at any rate, a few stories here,
things that really happened. I want to brag on our
judge over here very much, Ben Ellis. I remember when
I was trying Bob Wade — no relation to Henry Wade —
who was the chief of police of Garland, Texas. He
made that into a big city police department over a few
years because he got the council out there to create
much more police and much more jobs. And he created
apartments out there before they ever had them
anywhere else. But he started invading Dallas on drug
cases. Dallas Police Department didn’t appreciate
that or the Sheriff’s office. He wasn’t invited over
here. He had more narcotics people fooling around in
Dallas making cases than the Dallas vice squad. It
So when I tried Judge Wade — Chief
Wade, he was accused of drunk driving, and that’s when
I lost. They caught him pouring the whiskey down
after they arrested him at the Garland Hospital where
now the Garland police wouldn’t let them take him to
Dallas, put him right there in protection. And he got
a chance to go to the restroom. Said, “May I?” “Oh,
yes, Chief, you can go on in there.” Well, the Dallas
police were right there too; they wouldn’t leave. He
went in there, and someone said, “He’s been there too
long.” Well, they opened the door, and he was pouring
the whiskey down the commode that had been seized from
the car after the wreck. That changed the case a
little bit, slightly. It was one of those things.
But he didn’t go to jail. Anyway.
Ken Blassingame, yes. Ken I ran into
many — very early in my life when he was a prosecutor
trying DWI cases. And we had this case that was going
pretty well for the State. I put this old woman on
that testified that defendant was not a drunk. She had
observed him, that he was very fine a few minutes
after — an hour or so before the arrest. And old Ken
fished around for a few minutes. “How do you know so
much about drunks? Do you hang around bars all the
time? She said, “No, sir. I were a jail matron in
Alaska.” That was enough to — he fished him up a
good one. He was fishing for a trout, and he caught
him a water moccasin.
There were several times when he hit me
pretty good with these cases. He was a good
prosecutor. I remember one time he was go gung-ho —
still lives on the other side of the tracks. You get
your money’s worth, and the State got it out of him.
Tried this robbery case, and the only defense we
really had was misidentification. And the question
was that this man didn’t have no thumb on one hand.
And I asked the complaining witness, I
said, “You know, you saw him good?” “Yes.” “Well,
where did he have the gun” He said, “He had it in
his right hand.” “Well, how did he get the money?”
He said, ” I handed it to him.” “What hand?” “Left
hand.” I said, “Did you see anything unusual about it
at all?” “No, sir.” Well, he was born without a
thumb. That’s the only thing that saved that man.
So we got back to our side of the case,
called the defendant with his hand. Couldn’t put him
on the witness stand, had been in the pen in Arkansas
two or three times. And I said, “Your Honor, I
introduce this man’s hand.” And old Ken down there
popped up and said, “He hasn’t testified, Your Honor.”
Well, then it was reversible error if you had an
objection. That resulted in a mistrial.
We tried it a second time. Same thing,
and Ken was so carried away he wanted to get that guy
so bad because he knew he had been to the Arkansas pen
three times. I introduced that thumb again in
evidence and that hand. And he jumped up and this guy
that worked with him said, “Don’t do it again.”
Anyway. He was really trying his case. He did well.
He was tough to try cases against. He was as tough as
Bill Alexander. He said, “The only way you can beat
him in a bad case was to push his buttons bad.” And
if you play with him enough and push the right
buttons, he’d jump up and do something he shouldn’t
do; you’ve got a mistrial. You just had to know how
to do it. That was kind of — you didn’t make friends
that way, but hat was the way it worked.
Now, I’d like to talk a little bit about
a couple more things, and I’ll get off the stage and
let you hear from some other people. My career has
been very interesting, and I’ve enjoyed it. I think
that I was very fortunate, very lucky. I didn’t
always wear those clown suits to court. But in that
case I didn’t think I could lose it anyway. And I was
entertaining a family here down at Brennan’s, and we
was waiting for lunch when we finished the argument.
So I had to be dressed occasion — properly for that
occasion down there, and that was the dress of the day
for lunch at Brennan’s. The old place from New
Orleans was here for several years.
And he put on a good case, but that
witness of his was so bad, so vindictive. Boy, it was
just — you couldn’t blame him for that. Nobody liked
him. But, you see, juries have a lot to do with
cases. I learned that early in life. They decide —
and when you pick a good jury with a halfway chance to
win, if you don’t pick them, you exclude — get rid of
the bad ones, then you’re halfway home. You’ve got a
leg up. At least you’ve got a chance. But if you can
take them here and there and take the wrong people
like bankers in a robbery case, merchants in a theft
case, preachers in a vice squad prostitution case,
you’re not going to win. I mean, you’re starting off
over the hill.
That case that I wanted to bring up now
is some things I’ve missed because of my situation and
social connections. I had a good client here, the
Morris brothers, all three of them is trouble all the
time. The old man was tried — Jimmy, who had the
Chateau Briand — for gambling. We were lucky enough
to prevail on appeal on him. Nothing happened to him.
And the youngest boy — who is now
deceased for a long time — was killed by his wife or
girlfriend, whatever, at their house. And I beat the
police there. And here’s a family we represented
forever. We couldn’t get her out of jail; that would
end our relationship. Therefore, there goes a big
murder fee. Well, Alexander got over that case
because we couldn’t handle it. We had all the jewelry
there that she had, which was expensive. We turned
that over to Bill. And the reason was, you know, you
must not ever sue somebody you know socially. Some
husband, you take his case against the wife you’ve
been out to eat with, that’s bad news. Don’t do it.
Never sue your old client or represent somebody that
you’re involved with that way because it will com
back to haunt you.
Well, the reason I couldn’t handle that
was not only that, but when I got there this lady had
a fork sticking in her back side. I told her, “Don’t
take that out till the police get here.” I’ve been
accused ever since of sticking that fork in her. I
didn’t do that, I assure you. My prints would have
been on that fork. Anyway, they got there in a hurry
and rescued her. And Alexander did her a good job;
she was no-billed because she was being badly
mistreated at the time by my good client. Things
happen like that, and you get in the middle of things.
Another time when I misfired — which
I’ve mad many of them, many mistakes — was I thought
that I was going to get this great case because he
hired me and came in and paid me the money. It was
substantial federal theft and interstate shipping. A
whole car load of television sets moving in interstate
commerce. High federal crime. And the judge was Mac
Taylor, the court in this case. Well, I’m already
taking the money to the bank. I had cash. Those kind
of people never paid by check. They paid cash. And
we proceeded with our pretrial situation, and things
were going along pretty smooth. I asked for the
government’s witness list, which they would give us in
those days sometimes a good bit before trial.
And I want to present a little alibi for
the moment here too. My wife was deceased at that
time, my first wife. I married since, but I was
single a while. And I looked at that witness list,
and the first witness on there is, quote, what we
would call a chorus girl, but in other areas we’d call
her a stripper. She was the first witness against my
client. And I called him in and I said, “What’s this
all about?” He said, “Well, that’s a hard one to
explain, Charlie.” I said, “Well, try.” He said,
“Well, let me tell you. It was near Christmas, and
she had been very kind and nice to me.” And I knew
nothing about this myself. He said, “I gave her that
television set.” Well, it had numbers all over it.
That’s the first thing the police found, and that was
the star witness.
So I can see myself cross-examining this
young lady that I knew socially: She says, “Well,
now, Mr. Tessmer, let me tell you about that. You
remember me, don’t you?” It was one of those calls,
like I said, “Boy, are we in trouble.” He said, “What
do you mean ‘we’?”
I had one of those once too, but it
wasn’t that kind of trouble. She was in jail for
shoplifting. I said, “what do you mean ‘we’?” It was
over the telephone long distance. You talk about a
sign of relief. Yes, that was a pleasant one. But,
see, I would redeem all that in the future. I mean,
that’s wasting your time. But it hasn’t been too bad
I remember that people used to think
that I overdid things because I entertained a lot of
people. I had to have a bunch of free — a load of
lawyers around behind me hitting me on the shoulder
saying, “Charlie, you’re the best; you sure did good.”
Let me hear it again. I’ve got to hear that. And
that was one of the faults that I pursued too much.
Barefoot Sanders. There’s an old
federal judge over in Fort Worth, now deceased. He
was out of Amarillo, but I can’t remember his name.
He looked like the wrath of God. And we were over
there trying a case. Barefoot was the U.S. Attorney.
We had already got — Judge Dooley. That’s right. We
had already gotten a hung jury the first time around,
mistrial. I tried it in Fort Worth. I liked to go to
Forth Worth in those days. It’s hard to get away from
those Fort Worth lawyers, and it almost got me a
divorce before my wife died. She’d say, “You go over
there and try a case for a week, and it takes you
another week to get back.” She said, “It’s only 30
miles.” I said, “I have to prepare the motions if
there’s an appeal.” Anyway. Whatever.
Just like Tom Howard, a great lawyer we
had here for years, very fine lawyer. He fell on
misfortune and not filing a tax return and lost his
license for a year. And then he got it back and he’s
still practiced and did very well. Tom was a stand-
up guy. He was one that would really fight for his
clients. I’m sure that some of the other lawyers will
remember him. I’m sure Judge Vance remembers Tom and
would say a few words about him. But I tell you what,
helped me with that case he went after the Marine
Corps about where the fellow ran his girlfriend down
— or his wife, wasn’t it, in the front yard with the
car and killed her. And there was 200 witnesses out
there by White Rock. It was up in the yard. And I
put this fight manager, former boxer at a gym here,
Doug Lord — is he still living?
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: He’s still here.
MR. TESSMER: — put him on the witness
stand how he observed it all. I said, “Well, now,
what do you do for a living?” “I manage fighters.”
“Have you fought yourself?” “Yes, sir.” “You’ve been
a man of action and a man of courage.” I said, “Well,
why didn’t you come to this woman’s assistance when he
chased around that car instead of just sit there and
look?” Well, that kind of helped. He got five years.
Anyway. luck, luck of the draw.
About Sanders and Judge Dooley quickly
and I’ll get back to my chair where I belong. That
hung jury was a federal case. Judge Dooley, real —
oh, boy, you never knew where he was coming from. He
was kind of difficult. Barefoot Sanders asked that
jury the same thing I did. He says, “You know, we’ve
had this case before and that wouldn’t influence you
at all, would it?” Well, when it came my turn, I did
the same thing, only I told him it was a hung jury. I
said it happened before. Boom, I’m in contempt of
court. $500 fine. He just laid it on me. I paid it
in cash. In those days I had it. Now it’s a
different game you know. When you get over the hill,
the phone don’t ring as much.
Well, anyway, I said, “Well, Judge, he’s
doing the same thing, Barefoot Sanders, and he’s Mr.
U.S. Attorney.” He said, “He didn’t do it the way you
did it.” I said, “Well, I thought it was pretty
similar. There was a mistrial sort of.” Anyway,
those were great, great times. I enjoyed every one of
I want to thank all of you for being
here. I think that we’re at a time now when we need
good lawyers with courage more than anything in the
world. Because we’re about to lose many of our
constitutional rights. Our attitudes are different.
Police are so fearful of the public, and they want the
police to do things that they really should not go
beyond certain things to convict a bad guy whether it
violates his constitutional rights or not. It doesn’t
matter sometimes. So I think we’re in a period where
we really need to try to enforce them all if you can
before more are taken away by the courts because we’re
all so fearful of crime. And everyone, you can get
carjacked, anything can happen, that we’re willing to
give up our personal rights and subject ourselves to
things because it’s — if there’s nothing in that
house to hide, come on in here and look everywhere.
Okay? Well, looking everywhere means everything
pulled out on the floor. They don’t clean it up
sometimes. It’s not a very pleasant thing. So I
think that you really need to think about that.
Even though a guilty guy that is guilty
as the devil, should you throw out all the law that
says you can’t use questions in any degree at all,
promises or otherwise, to get a confession and then
ignore that law because you don’t respect it? What
difference does it make? It’s like a juror that while
he’s deliberating with the other jurors — and I’ll
leave this with you and sit down and shut up —
they’ll say, “You must vote guilty.” “Now, we’ve
already been through the evidence; we’re voting he’s
not guilty.” “But you know he’s guilty.” And the
question is: How does he know? How does he know?
Not that he believes he’s guilty because he’s heard
some evidence. You know he’s guilty. That’s beyond
So I think if young lawyers would start
reminding jurors in voir dire that you really don’t
know that the man is guilty, no matter what the
evidence is. Look at all these DNA cases, all those
people in jail many years and they’re getting out.
Why? Misidentified. Some of them five, six
witnesses, some three. We’ve had several in this
town. So, you see, it’s a two-way street.
And although we’re willing to give up
many of our rights like go through the screening at
the airport, which was — we all hated that to begin
with, but it keeps us living. These people are out
there with guns and bombs and whatever. It’s a
necessary intrusion. But my plea would be just keep
it where it’s really necessary to invade your rights.
Don’t block streets for hours or — three or four
hours and let the roadblock stop everybody coming
along there to see if they’re drunk to make a case.
That’s not the way to do things I don’t think.
I want to thank all of you. I
appreciate the kind words said by my friends here and
Judge Vance. I hate to see him when he’s a judge;
he’s too fair. He’d rule — he’d give you some
charges, if it looked fairly good, and he’d say,
“Well, that won’t win it or lose it anyway. Let’s put
it in there.” It might… He was even better on the
appellate court when he got up there. Well, we helped
by donating to his campaign the best we could. All
the lawyers helped him. Boy, we lost a good one when
we lost him. He’d reverse a case now more often than
once upon a blue moon. Thank all of you.
JUDGE VANCE: Let me tell Ken
Blassingame — I’m going to call him next, but while
he’s coming up here —
JUDGE ELLIS: Judge McCollum tired to
upstage Tessmer, so you have to wait a minute.
JUDGE VANCE: This lawyer Tom Howard he
talked of was a dapper kind of fellow. Looked like a
banker. He was one of the first lawyers to talk to
Jack Ruby. If he had represented him, Jack wouldn’t
have gotten even more than five years murder without
malice, I promise you. I was standing in Dean
Galldin’s court one day — and Dean Galldin was a D.A.
back in the 20’s, and he was a — I think a mean old
man. That’s the way I used to talk about him. And
Tom Howard came in at the back of the courtroom.
About the time he got to the rail, Dean Galldin —
Judge Galldin said, “Well, Tom, have you got a case
here today?” He said, “No, Judge. I just came by to
pay what little respect I have to the court” and
walked right on through the court into the clerk’s
Ken, come on up. While Ken is coming up
here, he and I and Ross Teeter were prosecutors
together in Judge King’s court one time. And I got an
emergency call from the clerk to come down, that Judge
King wanted to talk to me. Ken was down there trying
a case with Bill Quartermire. I went up to the side
of the bench and the judge said, “Let me tell you
something. If you ever let these two lawyers come
down here and try another case, I’m going to throw all
three of you in jail.” I said, “Wait a minute,
Judge.” And I was the chief prosecutor in court. I
said, “Wait a minute, Judge. I don’t have any control
over who represents the defendant.” He said, “I don’t
want to hear it.” He said, “I’m going to tell you;
I’m going to throw all three of you in jail.” And the
reason was because Ken was about to get into a fight
with this guy right out there in front of the jury
panel. Go ahead, Ken.
MR. BLASSINGAME: Judge, ladies and
gentlemen, that was fiasco. I think Quartermire
probably made about 40 statements, and I’d object.
And the judge would sustain it. And so finally I told
Quartermire, I said, “If you don’t shut your damn
mouth, I’m going to throw you out of the courtroom.
I’m tired of listening to you.” And that’s what the
brouha was over.
I, like Mike McCollum, kind of broke in
I started on Monday morning, and Tuesday morning they
let me have Charles Tessmer on a previously tried DWI
where he exited where there was no bridge off of
Central Expressway. And we got a hung jury and I got
congratulated by everybody in the office. And I said,
“Well, what happened?” And they said, “Hey, man,
that’s been hung once, and with Tessmer that’s good.
Twice, you did something.”
Tessmer was talking about the case that
the guy didn’t have a thumb. Well, there was one of
the witnesses asked him if he had talked to Mr.
Tessmer, and he said, “Well, I don’t know Mr. Tessmer,
but I talked to the man with the orange hair.” And he
had talked to Charles at that time.
I’m not sure that many of you know the
great Clayton Fowler, but he was an institution. In
World War II he ran a plane off a carrier, lost a leg.
He always stirred the baked beans at the criminal bar
picnic, and he always stated that his foot itched; the
one he did not have. Clayton was quite a guy, a
practical joker. I can remember him going into the
courtroom in a robbery case that Joe K. Henley was
trying, took an umbrella and had it marked and set it
there, and the jury hung up. and finally, when they
interviewed the jury, they wanted to know why they
hung, and they wanted to know what the umbrella was
for. Clayton had pulled some real practical jokes. I
think Judge Ellis is going to tell you about some of
JUDGE ELLIS: You just told mine.
MR. BLASSINGAME: That one was yours?
JUDGE ELLIS: That was mine.
MR. BLASSINGAME: Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll
give you another one. Clayton was bad to go to Oak
Cliff to eat. There was an Old Sav-More station over
there, and he and Costine Droby and Rughead Martin
would go and they’d stop. And this station worked a
bunch of ex-convicts. And they’d pull in there and
buy 50 cents worth of gas and up a $100 bill. And of
course, the brouha would be on.
But probably the funniest thing they
ever pulled was a bread truck went by and lost a case
of bread, and the ex-cons got the bread and had it
over there. And they went down the road and came
back — turned around and came back, flashed some kind
of badges, and told them that they were detectives
investigating the theft of bread and they cleared that
place out real quick.
Joe B. Brown, Sr., who was a judge for
many years, and Judge Vance was in his court one
morning and had a jury come in. A bunch of them were
standing around, and George Milner and I were there, a
bunch of us. And the judge looked at me and said,
“Ken, would you take these lawyers into my chambers.
The cigars are in the desk, and whiskey’s in the
closet.” I stuck my head back in and said. “Judge, we
found the cigars, but we can’t find the whiskey.” And
I think it broke it up.
I’m not sure that — a lot of you didn’t
know John Stoffer. John was a lawyer here, was a
great actor and wanted to be an actor. And he was
somewhat of a practical joker. You could ask John
what time it was, and he’d tell you how to build a
One Friday afternoon Caperton and a
bunch of us would always park in the basement of the
old white courthouse when the judges went home, and
they usually went home at noon on Friday. And so I
spotted Caperton — spotted Stoffer’s car down there
in Bowie’s parking place and went upstairs and told
Charles. I said, “Well, I just saw the funniest thing
you’ve ever seen down in the court — down in the
basement of the courthouse.” And he said, “What’s
that?” And I said, “Well, this poor guy is down
there, and they’ve got his car on a wrecker. He ran
and said, ‘Hey, man, wait, wait. That’s my car.’ He
said, ‘Don’t take my car.’ So they said, ‘Well, we’re
sorry, sir. We’ve got to give you a ticket.’ ‘That’s
okay. I’ll take a ticket. I’ve got to get out to the
airport; I’ve got to catch a flight.’ So he said,
‘Well, sir, I’m sorry; we can’t give you a ticket. We
have to take your car to the pound.’ And he said,
‘Well, could I ride with you?’ And he said. ‘No, you
can’t ride with us.’ Says, ‘Well, where’s the pound?’
They said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to find it.’
And they drove off. Now, they’re pulling all these
cars out of the judges’ spaces.”
So Stoffer is sitting in his officer over
there, and he hears me. He gets up and wheels out and
runs downstairs. Well, about a month later we’re at a
party. And his wife says, “You ought to be ashamed of
yourself.” I said, “Why’s that?” And she said,
“Well” — she told me about the story that I told
Caperton. And she said, “John Howard ran down in the
courtroom — ran down the court stairs to the
basement, ran down there and said. ‘Don’t take my
car,’ looked up, and there was no activity in the
I don’t know if you — some of you know
Hugh Snodgrass, Hugh was trying a little rape/robbery
one time and had an old gentlemen on the stand. And
he must have been 85. You’ve heard the proverbial
coke-bottle glasses. He had these real thick glasses.
He was the only witness, and we were a little leery of
his identification. And he identified him Johnny Mc Brown,
the only cowboy in Dallas County without a horse. And
had identified him. And Hugh took him on cross and
started talking about his glasses and went through his
glasses with him and everything and how thick they
were. He said, “You have a problem seeing, don’t
you?” And the old gentlemen said, “Yes, sir, I sure
do.” And Hugh asked him that last question. He says,
“Well, how far can you see?” The old man looked
around and thought a minute. He says, “I can see the
moon. How far is that?” And needless to say there
was nothing else on the identification.
Hugh tried a lot of cases, and there’s
an old gentlemen named Henry Tyre, and Henry was in
his 80’s at that time. And Hugh would always come in
and say, “Mr. Tyre has taken his case, and we just
need to plead it if we can. Can you give us
anything?” He had given a plea. He tried to get Mr.
Henry out of it, but he couldn’t. We said, “Hugh, we
just can’t do it.”
So we were trying a burglary one time
and Hugh used to say, “Well, Mr. Tyre — Mr. Henry
takes cases on Ellis County depression prices, and he
get these clients and he has to try them.” So we’re
trying this case and we’re over in the old courthouse
over there in the criminal courts building on the
second floor. It’s in the summer, the windows are up,
it’s hot, and you can’t hear. And Mr. Tyre is stone
deaf. And so Mr. Tyre leans over to Hugh and says,
“Tell him to speak up.” Hugh says, “Would you speak
up, sir, a little bit.” Mr. Tyre can’t hear him
again and he looks over at Hugh and says, “Tell the
son of a bitch to speak up.” So the jury is looking
around, you know. And about that time he looks over,
leans over to Hugh and says, “Tell the lying son of a
bitch to speak up.” J. Henry King did the Kick-off
play as many of you have seen with that right shoulder
when he got nervous.
Probably one of the things that Tolled
reminded me of is up in the federal court, T.
Whitfield Davis was literally stone deaf. And Bill
Alexander — who had a booming voice and could knock
you out of this room without a microphone — was up
there one day. And Bill was talking rather loud and
T. Whitfield Davis had two hearing aids on. And Alex
was telling him something, and he looked at him and he
said, “Mr. Alexander, you don’t have to scream. The
court can hear you.” And I think he’s the only person
that T. Whitfield Davis had heard at all that day.
I was trying to think what the district
judge up there that died not long ago, a fine
gentlemen and a real gentlemen, and his name is Bob.
I can’t think of his last name.
MALE AUDIENCE MEMBER: Porter.
MR. BLASSINGAME: Porter. Bob Porter.
Judge Porter — we had a robbery case up there, and I
was about to appear in court and he wanted to know
what I was up there on. And I said, “Well, Judge,
I’ve got this robber and this robbery case.” And I
said, “I think we’ve got a defense.” He looked at me
and said, “What do you mean, a defense to robbery?” I
said, “Well, Judge, you know, he’s over here in the
Linn Hotel in the halfway house and he’s on work
release, and he’s in the pen for robbery.” He said,
“Oh, really? In my court?” And he says, “You’re not
going to put that defense on.” I’m sure that it would
have been a good defense.” They would have probably
got me with it, but after he — he laughed about it
and he used to tell me, said, “Well, I’m going to call
you and let you put on your defense.” So I think I’m
going to let somebody else put on some defense. Thank
JUDGE VANCE: Mr. Todd.
MR. TODD: Yes, sir. I have to get up
out of the chair.
I see the faces of friends of mine. You
know, when you get to a place as a lawyer that you see
lawyers that you knew who were either appointed or
elected to a district bench or a county bench and they
served their time and they retired, you know you’re
getting on down the road. But I’ve had that
privilege. I’ve had some of the — you know, folks,
if I had it all to do over again, I wouldn’t hesitate
one minute. I’d rather be a lawyer than to be
anything in the world I know.
MR. TODD: Really. I can’t imagine of a
life any more wonderful or exciting or rewarding than
that of a lawyer. But I want to tell you something.
We’re losing a lot, folks. Back when I started
practicing law, you know what we did? We shook hands
with each other. A lawyer would call another lawyer,
and we got a deal. We shook hands. That settled it.
You better not do that nowadays. You better not.
Folks, what do we owe each other as
lawyers? What do you owe me and what do I owe you? I
owe you respect and confidence. I owe you to be
honest with you, not to lie to you, not to deceive
you. The other day I was in Judge Karen Green’s
court. And I’m going to compliment her; I think she’s
doing a great job. But anyhow, Craig Jett and I were
in there and we had tried a case. It was one of those
DWI cases where the naturalization group were trying
to deport this man — who had lived here in Dallas all
these years, 31 years — because he was convicted of a
DWI several years ago. And Craig had an interpreter
to testify for him and that he didn’t think he could
understand English. And I don’t think he could
either. But after the case was over — Judge Greene
rules. After it was over somebody reported to her
that she had — that they had seen Craig and me out in
the hall talking to this defendant. I was in Judge
Greene’s court not long after that, and she asked me
about it. At first it startled me, and then I
realized what she was talking about. I said, “Well,
Judge Greene it’s one thing to talk to a man out in
the hall. It’s another thing to put him — to let him
understand what’s going on in court.” But I said, “I
can assure you I’d rather have — I’d rather have you
thinking well of me than anything else you could do.”
We must have that with each other. Judges and lawyers
must trust each other. We must. We owe that to each
It’s just — and I haven’t — I haven’t
been the lawyer I should have been. I could have been
a lot better one than what I’ve been. But I want to
tell you about a man who meant a lot to me. Some of
you never knew him. Burt Barr. We called him Salty
Burt. If he like you, why, he was all for you. But
if he didn’t like you, he didn’t want anything to do
with you. But I was a young lawyer before and a
district — back in those days the juvenile cases and
divorce cases were transferred three months at a time
from one district court to the other. And I tried a
divorce case. I represented the wife, and another
lawyer represented the husband. Well, I was a young
lawyer back then, and I lost the child to the father.
Well, those were back in the days when fathers never
got a child, never. And I just — I felt like I ought
to take my license and quit.
Well, Burt heard about it. Burt Barr.
He called me and asked me to come down to his office,
and I did. He said, “Todd, I heard about what
happened to you.” He said. “I don’t vote for those
SB’s. I don’t like either one of them. And I know
what happened. Will you let me help you?” I said,
“Well, I hope somebody can.” And Burt Barr — I don’t
know what he did; he never did tell me. But two or
three weeks later this woman can to my office and
praised me to high heaven. She had her child. Burt
had done whatever he did, and he got it all
straightened out. He and I were friends from that
time on and had been before then.
And you were speaking about Tom Howard.
Tom and I went to school together. We graduated
together. And I had — I had a lot of — I had a lot
of good times with Tom. And the other lawyer that had
been mentioned here. Many are dead, are gone. Bobby
Wade. Most of you know Barney Hemphill, don’t you?
Barney Hemphill is — he, in my opinion, is a lawyer’s
lawyer. Barney is an honorable man. What he tells
you, you can believe it. Well, Barney is not well.
He’s 85 now. He graduated at SMU in 1937, and I in
1938. So if you have time — he’s listed in the
telephone directory — call him. Give him a ring. It
would mean a lot to him just to hear from you. to hear
from his friends. And he and Bert Gunn. Most of you
know Bert Gunn. They’re up there in the old Adolphus
Tower building together. I mean, they were on the
same floor, but they’re not anymore.
Now there’s some questions asked about
who was the one who did all these bonds. Well, I’m
going to tell you younger fellows, if you never had
the privilege of trying a case before a man like Judge
Richburg, the law west of the Trinity, you don’t know
what practicing law is all about. You just don’t. I
learned — he had some of the most unique ways of
doing things. For instance, I remember one time
people got involved over a dispute over a hog. Well,
you know how the judge handled it? He had them bring
the hog into court. And they brought him in. He
said, “Now, turn the hog loose and see which one he
goes to.” Well, the hog headed to the owner’s way,
and that settled it. And he had on his desk up here,
he had one of the tape recorders that had the little
light that flickered off and on, you know. And he —
people would be sitting here on the witness stand, and
Judge Richburg would turn that machine on and now —
he says now to the witness, he said, “Now, you know,
look at the blinking now.” He says, “That’s a truth
machine. It tells me when you’re telling the truth
and when you’re not.” And he generally got the truth,
pretty much. And I visited with him several times out
at West Dallas, and we’d have dinner on the ground.
The people out there would get into
disputes, neighborhood. And Judge Richburg would say,
“Well, Dalford, let’s take these folks out to West
Dallas and let’s have dinner on the ground.” And we’d
go out there and we’d have a meal. And by the time we
got through, their dispute had all been settled.
And he did a lot of things that he
couldn’t get by with today, but — for instance, he
had what he called a leave-alone bond. You know, he’d
have a leave-alone bond, a don’t-fight bond, a don’t-
curse bond, don’t slow-trial bond. He had a bond for
every occasion. But he was a great man, and I’m glad
I knew him.
I’m going to wind up in just a second.
Speaking of Judge Atwell, those of you who never had
the privilege of trying a case before Judge William
Hall Atwell don’t know what you missed. Because the
judge — it didn’t take you but just a little bit,
when you got in his court, you knew who the boss was.
He had one of these little glasses. And he’d stare at
you, you know. And you’d say — well, anyhow, Shelby
Cox was the judge of the County Criminal Court Number
1. He took over from Joe Brown. And so he was
talking to me one day and said — he said, “Todd, I
want to tell you something.” He said, “I’ve had
lawyers ask me how I get along with Judge Atwell so
well.” I said, “Well, how do you?” He says, well, I
tell my client, ‘I’ll represent you till we get up to
the courthouse door. When we get on the inside, it’s
every man for himself.'” Of course, I’m sure he
didn’t do that. But we only had two federal courts
here then, Judge Atwell and Judge Davidson. And they
were both fine men.
And I’ll close my part of this by
telling you I graduated in SMU in 1938. And I want
the prettiest girl to stand up over there, my wife.
MR. TODD: I saw her on her daddy’s
front porch July of 1939, fell in love with her, I
married her. And she has been a true lawyer’s wife.
She’s been a real lawyer’s wife. She stood by me all
the way through. My son David is a lawyer. Mark is
here, my other son. And I’m grateful. I’m thankful.
And I want to thank all of you for
putting up with me through the years as you’ve done
because I know — I know John here. When John — I
remember when he want on the 195th District Court, and
it was a pleasure to try cases before him. And may I
say this to those of you who are judges: The finest
thing that can be said about you by lawyers is that I
know you’ll be fair. You can’t beat that.
Judge Ellis. Ben, we all knew that Ben
might get on your case, but we all knew one thing; he
got on the cases of everybody. He didn’t have any
particular ones. And he was fair. We knew we could
trust him. And we’re particularly blessed in Dallas
County, I think, to have a good panel of judges. Most
of them I believe are fair and want to be.
And I see my bright friend Paul Banner
sitting over there. Paul Banner started out in
Greenville, and I knew him way back yonder. Now, he’s
finished, and now he’s a visiting judge. I must tell
you this, and I’m sure — I’ll promise you I’ll quit.
Tom Thorpe — some of you know Tom Thorpe — and Frank
Watts, they — they practiced together in Judge Frank
Wilson’s court. And Henry — I mean, Winter King was
the judge in Criminal District Court Number 1 before
Frank Wilson. And I represented a no-good boy charged
with rape. And Frank and Tom represented the State.
Well, we got into it. We tried it, and he was
convicted and given what I thought was reasonable
sentence. His father thought so too. So his father,
after it was over with, he said, “How much do I owe
you?” He had paid me a little bit. I said, “You
don’t owe me anything.” He was a crippled man. He
had an old walking stick he made out of a tree limb he
had gotten. And “No,” he said, “No. I do owe you.”
I said, “No.” I said, “You just take care of yourself.
I’m satisfied.” He said, “I tell you what I’m going
to do. I’m going to pay you $500.” Now that’s when
$500 was a lot of money. Well, I told him, “Don’t
worry about it.”
Several years went by. One Saturday
morning — I was in the Davis Building at that time,
and my office door opened on the hall. The elevator
opened up and here came this old man, with that same
stick I guess, with a sack under his arm, a brown
paper sack. He brought it in and put it on my desk.
“I come to pay you.” We counted it out $500 that
that man had saved over years. Now, that didn’t
happen to me very often, but it happened that time
And then, you talked about John Stoffer.
This cane was given to me by John Stoffer, and I
wouldn’t take a thing in the world. And I wanted to
ask you to do one other thing, and I’ll quit. I’ll
give you, if you’ll contact me I’ll quit. I’ll
give you, if you’ll contact me I’ll give you Barbara
Stoffer’s — John Stoffer’s wife’s address. John — I
mean Barbara and John practiced law here. And then those
of us who knew John practiced law here. And then those
of us who knew John realized before they moved back
that John was sick. He had cancer. Now, he was in a
hurry to get back to Ohio to build a house for his
wife. He built Barbara a new house up there. And
Barbara told me that John told her, said, “I want you
to emblazon the map of the State of Texas on my
tombstone because that’s where I’d rather live than
anywhere else.” And she did that, and she lives up
Well, folks I want to thank you and it’s
been wonderful to know you. I wouldn’t take
anything — I consider you to be my friends and my
family. And I close by telling you, if you don’t know
the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior, I would
like to recommend him to you because he is a great
judge of the universe, and I hope to practice law with
you at his bench in heaven forever. Thank you.
JUDGE VANCE: Let me ask — I was just
asking Donna if she wanted to take a break. She
doesn’t, but let me encourage you, if you want some
cake, drinks or anything, go ahead and get them while
we’re going on.
I’ll ask Judge Ellis to come up, please.
JUDGE ELLIS : You’re not going to fall
off the minute I speak?
JUDGE McCOLLUM: Yes, Judge
JUDGE ELLIS: You’re not going to fall
off the minute I speak?
JUDGE McCOLLUM: I guess I ought not.
the law. I may not have the funniest story to tell,
but I’ve got the most recent story to tell. This
happened just this afternoon.
You know back in the olden days when we
were trained by Henry Wade, we’d put our witness on
and we’d say, “State your name.” And they’d state
their name. You’d say, “What is your occupation?”
He’d say he was a police officer. Well, for some
reason now in the District Attorney’s office, the
first question they say is “Introduce yourself to the
jury.” Well, this little Mexican fellow this
afternoon heard those words. So he got down off the
witness stand, and he went over to the jury box and
started shaking hands with all the jurors.
Now, I don’t know whether the defense
lawyer put him up to that or not, but it sounds like a
Randy Taylor deal to me. Honest to goodness, it
happened just this afternoon.
I’ve got to tell my favorite Herbie
Green’s joke. I don’t know whether any of you have
ever heard this before. If you have, don’t give away
the punch line. Herbie — you know, some lawyers try
each other. Herbie tried the judge. When he was
picking a jury, he would often say, “Now I’ve got to
give you an illustration to prove my point.” And he’d
start out with saying that “What I’m about to tell you
is a true story and it came — you know, somewhere
from my family in the — in the olden days. But,
please, don’t make up your mind when we’re trying this
case until you’ve heard our side of the story because
things are not always what they seem to be.” And then
he’d go into his gesturing and tell you about this
farmer who was caught out in the barn one night and he
had a case of the trots. And he had to go to the
bathroom something terrible. So he dropped his pants
and he dropped his drawers, and about that time his
favorite cow started out the door that he left open.
So he ran over and grabbed ahold of that cow, and
there he was going out of the barn lot holding onto
that cow’s leg when the preacher came around the
corner and caught him. “Now, let me tell you, folks,
things are not always what they seem to be.”
My next Herbie Green story. He was
picking a jury one day, and he came down to this
fellow who had a Spanish surname, Mr. Gonzalez. And
he started — he was — well, Herbie could speak
Spanish. I’ll give him that; he could speak Spanish.
So he started out talking to Mr. Gonzalez in Spanish.
Well, Mr. Gonzalez got highly incensed, and Mr.
Gonzalez said, “Look, man, I’m a fifth generation
American. I don’t speak Spanish, and I don’t like for
you to put this on me.” Mr. Green never looked up,
just kept on writing. “Adios, Mr. Gonzalez.”
Everybody — some of you aren’t old
enough, but you’ve got to remember August Kerns,
Double A Kerns, if you tried many cases around here.
Well, there was a fellow came in on the bus from
California, stopped down at the bus station and picked
up a little boy, took him up to the room and had a
sodomy affair with him. Well, the police officers
were looking through the door because they had one of
these set-up deals down there and saw everything that
was going on.
Now, when Double A came in the courtroom
to start this case, you know, he was over there —
just, “This is my friend, you know. This is my
client. Oh, he’s a fine fellow.” Sat down with him
and hugged him during the trial and everything. The
police officer started talking about this sodomy case.
Well, Double A got up, and he moved two spaces down
the counsel table and wouldn’t even talk to the guy
anymore after he heard the facts of the case. Now,
sometimes you can get too involved.
I want to give you — I know we’re short
of time here, and I don’t want to prolong this agony.
Let me give you three examples of a great put-down.
Now, I hate people that tell stories that make
themselves look good, and I’m not saying this makes me
look good. But all of you remember Jimmy Mitchell.
Well, we had a — well, some people call him a
professional witness, Dr. Morty Mason, who was the
balloon man for Dallas County for years. And Jimmy
had him on cross-examination, and he says, “Now, Dr.
Mason, do you remember in — two years ago when we
tried the Smith case and you testified so and so? And
three years ago when we tried the Jones case you
testified so and so?” And I jumped up and objected to
Judge Cox. I says, “Judge, it’s obvious that he
represents all the drunks in Dallas County, but can we
get on with this trial.” Well, that case went up on
appeal and the court — this is a true story; it’s in
the books. The court says, “It’s very obvious that he
does represent all the drunks in Dallas County.”
Now, this one is a true story. Chris
Lingwall was in the public defender’s office, and as
many of you know I kind of have a fixation about a man
representing himself in a jury trial. I just don’t
think that it ought to be that way. I think the
Supreme Court’s wrong, that’s from all that mess they
started out in California. It’s a bad case; it’s
always been a bad case, shouldn’t be doing that. But
Lingwall was the lawyer that I had picked out to sit
by the man at the counsel table and to advise him
during the trial. And the guy was trying to prove
that he was smart enough to try his own case. And
Lingwall leaned over to him — in a loud voice so I
could hear it on purpose — and says, “Brother, you’re
making a bad mistake. That judge don’t think anybody
but him is smart enough to represent a defendant in
Dallas County.” Well, you know, that was — to me
that was the worst put-down I ever had.
One — now, this is a put-down of a
witness. Everybody know John Castle. Don’t we, Mr.
MR. TAYLOR: Yes.
JUDGE ELLIS: We went into the jury room
in Judge Orvis’s court one day after John Castle had
been testifying. And the jury had a big blackboard
back there that they check things off. And they had
written on the blackboard: “John Castle is an expert
in 32 areas.” And they had 12 explanation marks after
that. So those are my stories. and I hope I haven’t
kept you too long.
JUDGE VANCE: Let me ask Judge Banner to
come up here. And while he’s on his way up here, Ken
Blassingame was present. Herb Green was representing
the defendant in Judge King’s court. He had him up in
front of the judge and had him sworn and asked him if
he waived his right to a trial by jury. (Waving)
Judge King, as he always said, “Call the jury, call
the jury.” And either Ken or myself said, “Wait a
minute, Judge. Let’s put him on the witness stand. I
think this will be all right.” Put him on there, and
Herb started again. He went (waving). Come on up.
JUDGE BANNER: Good evening. When I
was — got a call the other day and asked would I come
give the Masons a speech, and I was all prepared to
come talk to a bunch of brick layers, but it looks to
me like you folks are probably mainly lawyers. I
guess I’m the only one here without much of a Dallas
connection. I’m a Hunt County boy over in Greenville.
That’s where I did most of my thing until about five
years ago. I found that you folks treated visiting
judges pretty nice.
I’ll tell you a couple things.
Incidentally, my 45-minute talk has been severely —
I’ve X’d out a lot of the things, and I know you’ll
appreciate that. But let me tell you my Clarence
Darrow’s career and I read his stuff and tried to do
some of the stuff he did. And there was the little
thing one time. We had Cameron McKinney, who was a
blind District Attorney who served over in Hunt County
when I started lawyering. He would put on witnesses
and tell all — have them say all kind of bad things
about my clients. And what I did is what Mr. Darrow
had done earlier. We could smoke in courtrooms in
those days. And I had my cigar, and right before the
trial started I took a paper clip, bent it straight
and pushed it down the length of the cigar. The worst
witness from the defense side was about to take the
stand. When he was called, I pulled out my cigar and
looked at it admiringly, slowly lit it. I could do
great smoke rings in those days. And as the D.A., who
was blind, kept asking the witness question about
what a terrible guy I represented, is I kept blowing
the smoke rings. Well, you and I know — although
smoking is not so much in vogue anymore, but you and I
know that everybody will begin to watch the length of
the ashes as it grows longer on the cigar or
Well, Mr. McKinney — Cameron kept
asking the questions, and I had my cigar and I’d puff
on it, blow smoke rings, and the ash got longer and
longer. He said, “Your witness, Counselor.” I laid
my cigar down on the ash tray there on the counsel
table. He was blind, and the jury is too far away to
see… And it worked because the jury paid more
attention to the length of my ash. But somehow or
another they still convicted my client.
Let me tell you about the Bobby — oh,
God, there’s so many wonderful stories I have after
all these years. Not near as good as the ones, of
course, you have. But I enjoy mine better probably
than I do yours mainly because I know my stories and I
don’t know yours.
Bobby Johnson was a high school
classmate of mine, but he dropped out of school. He
went to the Navy and had a career, as some of the
folks around here have been in the Navy. Then he
became a deep sea diver, soldier of fortune. He did
all these things. And I hadn’t been out of law school
very long. He had married a Greenville girl. They
separated. She came back home, filed a divorce case.
He came to see me with his divorce papers. And being
a conscientious, if not experienced, lawyer I took
a great deal of time — actually a lot more time than
it takes to tell this story — and I explained to him
the community property law of this state, separate
property law of this state, the probabilities of who
would get custody, how child support was set. And I
went on and on and on and told him all his options
about how he could do whatever his choices were as he
faced this divorce case and what the cost would be and
the probable outcome. I said, “Bobby, what is it that
you want me to do? Do you understand my explanation?”
He said, “I sure do, Paul.” I said, “Well, what is it
you want me to do?” He looked at me and thought a
minute. He said, “Well, Paul, you know more about
this sort of thing than I do. You just use your own
I want to tell you about the case of the
State versus Morris D. Blaylock. I really enjoyed
that case on the main. It was the first case I ever
tried. Morris D. Blaylock was charged with
aggravated assault and attempt of commit murder with
malice aforethought. You old guys, you remember
that’s 2 to 20 — 2 to 25 I believe under the Penal
I was hired to represent this young man,
and he was charged with having taken a knife and
assaulted the brand new constable in Hunt County. He
just — the constable had gone into office January the
1st, and this was about the 8th or 10th or 9th or
something. Anyway the first fun Saturday night after
July — after January the 1st. Mr. Sanford was the
constable. He arrested — sought to arrest my client.
My client resisted arrest. The knife was produced.
The end result besides Morris D. Blaylock being
charged with this terrible crime, the constable got a
little nick on his earlobe right about here. It was
wintertime, so he was wearing a jacket. And the
jacket had about three or four slash marks starting up
about the shoulder, across the heart area, and down
toward the abdomen, But the only injury was to Mr. —
Constable San ford’s ear.
District Attorney had — this is still
the same District Attorney, Cameron McKinney, the
blind man. Anyway, he said, “Constable” — this is
more or less the way the story goes. He said,
“Constable, is it a fact that the defendant was
drunk?” “Yes, he was.” “In a public place?” “Yes,
sir.” “You sought to arrest him for being drunk in
public?” “Yes, sir.” “It was a lawful arrest?”
“Yes, sir.” “And he resisted arrest?” “Yes, sir.”
“And he took a knife, while he was resisting arrest,
out of his pocket?” He said, “Yes, sir.” The
District Attorney held up this slashed coat and said,
“Now, Constable, isn’t it a fact that he took this
knife and was slashing at you, slashing at your vital
organs?” He says, “Oh, no, Mr. McKinney. He was
trying to cut me way up here by my heart.”
Well, I’m going to leave out my Grigson
Stories and a bunch of others. You’ll be delighted
for me to sit down, after I figure out one more or
Tom Thorpe I believe was the imminent
jurist. Y’all have had many imminent jurists over
here in Dallas. I was trying a rather sleepy case.
It took a half day to present the evidence, but it was
not an exciting case. My man was charged as being a
con guy pulling a deal and taking — was charged with
theft, and the victims were two young men which I was
trusting the jury would figure out were gay. Back in
those days we didn’t have enough sense not to play to
prejudice, and I thought that was going to work. So
the trial went on. It broke a record even for me
because I counted in the course of that trial — and I
believe it was Judge Thorpe was the judge. I
counted — there were seven jurors asleep. Five of
them at one time. This case took only a half an
afternoon. The judge, in my opinion was also asleep.
Well, the jury apparently dozed — slept
through the good parts about this case listening to
the ones that were awake, and they found my guy
guilty. And I got fired. There was a motion for new
trial, and I was called as a witness to testify at the
motion for new trial about everybody sleeping. Well,
I opined that at least seven jurors were asleep, five
at one time. And not being a complete fool and I —
because Judge Thorpe was presiding at the motion for
new trial. And I said, “Well, and it appeared” —
when asked, I said, “It appeared that Judge Thorpe was
asleep also.” Judge Thorpe said, “Just a minute. I
want to make sure the record is clear. I was just
resting my eyes. I was not asleep.”
Well, having been a visiting judge for the last
five years, a whole lot of it in this county, I think
that there is opportunity for judges to need to rest
their eyes. I guess I do that from time to time.
Now, I’m going to leave. I know some of
these other fine gentlemen are much capable than
I in giving you great words of wisdom, great
observations. They participated in the making of the
history of this great community and state. You’ve
heard of Judge Richburg of course if you’ve been in
Dallas any length of time. But over in Hunt County we
had our nearest but pale attempt at that. His name
was Judge Homer Wacasey. He has been a county
commissioner in the 40’s a couple different times.
Then he became a justice of the peace. And as a brand
new lawyer I would go and talk to him, and he was kind
enough to talk to me. He was about 78 years old at
the time and I said, “Judge Wacasey” — I guess I was
24 or 23. I said, “Judge Wacasey, how old do you get
before you begin — how old is it that you get to
where you start — when you start failing to notice a
good-looking woman?” I’m trying to work this. A lot
of these good stories have to be improved, and I’m
trying to clean this one up a little bit. But anyway,
I said, “How old is it that you get, Judge, before you
fail to notice good-looking women all the time?” He
said, “Paul, I’m 78 years old, and you’ll have to ask
somebody a whole lot older than I am.”
The other thing and what I would like to
leave you with is that he told me something. And
although I’ve been a criminal lawyer, been involved in
criminal law all these years, he told me that prisons
don’t make for good men. And I thought about that and
observed perhaps my own conduct and think there’s some
merit to that. And I’m happy to report to you, folks,
that I still notice good-looking women, and I’m on my
way to being a better man. Thank you.
JUDGE VANCE: I’ll call on Judge
JUDGE CHAPMAN: Well, we’ve had quite a
colorful history over the years. It’s always good to
start off with another Herb Green story. You know how
deserted that courthouse is if you got there about
2:30 in the afternoon on about a Thursday. This one
defendant had been waiting all morning for his lawyer,
pacing up and down, up and down in the hallway. His
lawyer hadn’t showed up. Finally Herb is up there,
and I don’t know if either — if he was answering
docket call about than or not. But Herb gets off the
elevator. This guy has been waiting all day long. He
comes up and says, “Say, you!” He says, “Are you my
lawyer? Are you George Milner?” Herb never missed a
beat. He says, “No, man.” He says, “George Milner is
a little short, fat guy.”
Bill Alexander stories are plentiful. I
think possibly it was the William Samples Marshall
case where he happened to ride up the elevator with
the defendant’s mama. And she went into wailing and
said, “Mr. Alexander, how could you do this? How
could you ask them to kill my boy?” And he said,
“Ma’am, it would be just as easy as stepping on
I think — I think maybe that was the
same trial also that — and I don’t remember whether
it was Maloney or Miler were on the defense on that
or not. But I can remember hearing a final argument
to the jury made by the defense that — bragging on
the prosecution team that had been brought down. He
said, “They’ve got Frank Watts, the golden-tongued
eagle of the District Attorney’s office. They brought
you Bill Alexander who’s got more death penalties than
any other prosecutor in the state. And they also
brought John Vance, the burr with a brain.”
Judge, I moved into your old chambers in
the district bench, and when you went on up I think to
the Court of Appeals I got back over on the side of
the hall with the holdover cells. And there’s only
one thing I found in the medicine cabinet, and that
was a can of hair spray and a comb. And then when I
moved over on the appellate bench, I inherited an
office and went in. And I said, “Whose office did
this used to be?” They said, “It used to be Judge
Vance’s.” I went in there, and in the medicine
cabinet was a can of hair spray and a comb. So I left
it for Judge O’Neill when I left, if you care to go
back over there and get that.
You know, back one time I had a chief
prosecutor that was a pretty good prosecutor by the
name of Martin LeNoir. And we got some new courts,
and Judge Gerry Meier and a couple others — Keasler I
think went on at the same time. And Judge Vance
wanted the new judges to have more experienced
prosecutors. So he took LeNoir away from me and gave
me Cathy Crier instead, so that wasn’t too bad a
trade. In return for that, I had to move to number
three. And I had heard of this young misdemeanor
prosecutor named Joe Kendall. So I asked that Joe
Kendall be sent to my court. And he came in there,
and he’s making one of his first arguments and he’s
doing the historical I guess we all learned from the
Henry Wade days on of the sweeping finger pointing to
the defendant. And Joe managed to hit a water pitcher
that was on the bench, and it turned over of course
and went everywhere. He said, “Judge, let me get
that.” And I said, “No. Go on with your argument.”
And Kendall had to sit there and continue his argument
with that water going drip, drip, drip, down to
There have been some characters. Hoyt
Pinkleton was mentioned. John Coil and I — a lot of
you are too young to remember John Coil. But I want
to leave you with a true story that really happened
about 14 years ago.
I was on a sailboat with J. J. Coggin, a
former homicide officer. And we’re down in the Grand
Caymans. And everybody had gone in that morning
shopping. And it was me and him with our second
Heineken in the morning about 9 o’clock, you know, and
mystery novels propped up there in paradise. And this
rastafarian boatman came rowing his boat up. And this
fellow says to J. J., he says, “Say, mon, do you want
to buy some dynamite (indicating smoking)?” And
J. J., says, “Oh, mon, don’t you know who I am?” The
guy says, “No, mon,” He says, “I’m the man.” The
boatman goes, “Oh, shit.” He says, “You see this guy
over here; do you know who he is?” “No, mon.” “He’s
the judge.” He says, “Oh, double shit.” True story.
I enjoyed being here, and thank you for
being my friends
JUDGE VANCE: Before I call the next
speaker, let me say that — Yes.
THE REPORTER: I’ll take that break now.
JUDGE VANCE: All right, go ahead,
Donna. Go ahead, let’s take a break.
JUDGE VANCE: We’re ready to get started
if you will please. I’ll ask Randy Taylor to come up.
Break a leg.
MR. TAYLOR: I don’t know if Judge Vance
asked me to come up because half the people were still
out of the room or not. I reckon that’s probably why.
Judge Vance, Judge Ellis, I’ll be brief in my remarks.
I knew that would be the best laugh I would get this
I see my friend Charlie Tessmer down
there. Charlie, back during the time frame after he
lost his first wife and before he married Norma,
Charlie stole my girlfriends. I mean, that’s a true
story. He really stole some girlfriends from me. But
Charlie and I have always been friends.
I tell you, folks, there are two
lawyers — I’m not talking about judges. I’ve got
some judges I greatly admire, but there are two trial
lawyers that I really greatly admire. Charles Tessmer
and Bill Alexander. They’re light and dark
difference, but they’re two tremendous trial lawyers.
I’ll tell you a brief Bill Alexander
story, and then I’ll move on to this other story I’ve
got for you.
There was a guy that would — what was
that guy that played Hannibal, the cannibal? It was
in a Jodie Foster film. There was a guy in the
penitentiary that would have made Hannibal, the
cannibal, look like a punk. And Judge James Zimmerman
told me this story. This is a legend. And I believe
it to be true because I think that for a while
Hannibal, the cannibal, was out of the — escaped out
of where ever he was at and he was tracking Judge Jim
Zimmerman. And Judge Zimmerman, for several days in
the Allen courthouse over here, had two Texas Rangers
walking down the hall with him all the time. I mean,
this guys was bad news. Well, Zimmerman told me this
Hannibal, the cannibal, had a list — I
mean like a death list when he was in the county jail
over here. And Bill Alexander had prosecuted
Hannibal, the cannibal. So Bill Alexander found out
that Hannibal, the cannibal, had him — he was like
one of eight people on the list that he was going to
go kill. So Bill Alexander went up to see Hannibal,
the cannibal, in county jail, and he explained it to
him something like this. He said, “Look, you son of a
bitch” — Bill being the subtle person that he is, he
said, “Look, you son of a bitch” — he said, “If I see
you on the street, I don’t care what you’re doing, I’m
going to kill you. I carry a .45 all the time, and
I’m going to absolutely just waste you right there.
It don’t make no difference what you’re doing, if
you’re just walking down the street with groceries in
your hand.” So Hannibal, the cannibal, picked up his
list and scratched Bill Alexander off his list. That
was the end of Hannibal, the cannibal, wanting to kill
My only other story — and as I promised
Judge Vance and Judge Ellis I would be brief. My only
other story is a story that’s got a little tragedy —
well, it’s got a lot of tragedy to it in a way, but
it’s an interesting story and it — I was personally
involved in it.
In 1969 I took what was called a
sabbatical for a year. Actually, it turned into two
years. I — a sabbatical, as most of y’all know — or
all of y’all probably know — is let the land lay
foul, let the land replenish itself. And it was
pretty much pretty women and good whiskey and fast
cars for that year in ’69 and then ’70 also. But I
had — since all of the three or four mentioned things
are expensive, I had to do something to kind of take
care of those, you know. I had to make a living a
little bit. So I officed in Grand Prairie, Texas. I
had a new Corvette and several nice-looking
girlsfriends and a lot of good whiskey, but I still had
— I still had to do something to make a living. So I
practiced a little bit of law.
Well, I had a six-week vacation planned
for Europe in the summer of ’69. The way I date this
story so well is I was in Stockholm, Sweden, when Neil
Armstrong first walked on the moon. I was listening
to it on the radio. It was probably — I remember
that, so It was probably July of ’69.
Well, right before I left to go to
Europe for my six-week vacation, there was a man came
in to see me, and his name was Buckles. Mr. Buckles
had a used car lot out in Grand Prairie. And Mr.
Buckles, his lessor was a man named — let me see
here — Tegins. Mr. Tegins was a multimillionaire and
he had the Spiedel wristwatch or wristband watch —
wristwatch back I should say, for the entire state of
Texas and he was a multimillionaire.
Mr. Buckles came in to see me and he
said, “I’ve received this letter from a lawyer named
Buddy Grantham. Now, Buddy Grantham is a big, rough-
tough guy, a real nice guy, a lawyer in Grand Prairie.
And Buddy’s main claim to fame is that he was a
quarterback for Rice in the 1954 Cotton Bowl when that
guy Dickey Maple was running making that 90-something-
yard run down the sidelines, and I think it was
playing Alabama. And a guy that came off the bench
without a helmet and tackled Dickey Maple. Well,
Buddy Grantham was the quarterback for Rice in that
Well, Buckles had got a letter from —
from Buddy Grantham about Mr. Tegins wanting to take
his — take his property back over because Buckles was
behind in his rent. And so I wrote — I had known
Buddy Grantham before. We had done a divorce case or
two together or something like that. And so I wrote
Buddy a letter back. I said, “Buddy, we’ll get this
thing worked out. My client will get caught up on the
rent now.” Well, Buddy called me back and he said,
“We don’t want him out of there.” And I said, “Well,
Buddy, we’ll get caught up on the rent.” Well, Buddy
said, “No, Randy, you don’t understand. We want him
out of there. Your client’s crazy.” Well, I had had
a divorce case with Buddy before where he had said my
client was crazy. So I said, “Buddy, you’re always
telling me my clients are crazy.” He said, “Well,
your client’s crazy; want him out of there.”
So Buckles came into the office, and
this is about the time I’m fixing to leave in the
summer of ’69 for a vacation in Europe. And I say to
my client, “Look, you’re dead in the water; you ain’t
got no chance.” And he said, “Well, I just want to go
to court and have my day in court.” I said, “Well,
okay. If that’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to
do it, if you pay my fees.” He said, “Okay, I’ll pay
your fees.” Well, I’m fixing to leave to go to
Europe, and they wanted him out of there. So there
was a forcible entry detainer case filed. So my — at
that time, the guy who I officed with, who was also
the City Judge of Grand Prairie named Jack Kincaid, I
said, “Jack, go down and handle this guy’s case for
him because I’m fixing to go on a six-week vacation to
Europe.” So Jack went down and handled the case for
Well, here’s Buddy — like I said, Buddy
was a quarterback at Rico, Buddy’s a big, rough-tough
guy and all that. But Buddy didn’t want to get
involved in this case. He had previously represented
this guy Tegins before, before the city council,
trying to get a pizza parlor put in out there through
the zoning ordinances in Grand Prairie. But Buddy
didn’t want to represent the guy because Buddy really
and truly thought that Buckles was crazy, which I
think history will prove out as I tell you as we go
So Buddy told Tegins, he said, “Look,
there’s a guy right down the road right down here by
the name of Burns Parham who’s an excellent lawyer.
Now, Burns I guess still practices in Grand Prairie.
And the reason he gave Tegins for it was, he said,
“Buckles’ daughter works here in the bank where I
office, and there’s a conflict of interest.” But
really and truly, Buddy just wanted, you know, out of
So Tegins went down the road and hired
Burns Farham. And Jack Kincaid went to court with —
with Buckles, and they had a hearing before a very
colorful judge named Fred “Red” Harris. Fred “Red”
Harris considered himself something of an amateur
artist. And I don’t know if any of y’all know
anything about art — I certainly don’t — but it’s my
understanding that artists learn to paint a particular
scene and they do it repetitiously because they become
very skilled, like a waterfall or a bridge and the
shadow under it, or something or another like that.
Well, for some odd reason Fred “Red”
Harris’s favorite scene that he put in all of his
paintings was the rear end of horses. I mean, every
paintings was the rear end of horses. I mean, every
painting you saw in Fred “Red” Harris’s officers had
two or three horses at the hitching rail, and it was
from their rear end looking forward towards the
saloon. I mean, that was his kind of specialty.
Well, now, Jack Kincaid, when I got back
from my vacation in Europe, told me as follows. He
said that — that Tegins got on the witness stand and
testified. And he said that Buckles got on the
witness stand and he testified. And he said that
Buckles broke down and started crying, and Fred “Red”
Harris told him to quite crying. And so he quit
crying. And of course Fred “Red” Harris found against
Buckles because, I mean, Tegins was clearly in the
right. So — and this is where the story gets really
The trial is over. Jack walks — he
leaves Buckles and he walks out the back — the
Jackson side of the Allen courthouse, the Jackson
street side of the Allen courthouse. Tegins and Burns
Parham are walking out of the Jackson street side of
the Allen courthouse. Buckles has two-shot
derringer. Buckles walks up to — behind Tegins and
kills him. One shot, kills him dead. Well, Burns
Parham takes off running to the east side of the Allen
courthouse, and there’s some big flower pots out there
that are about five-foot tall. Well, burns Parham
gets down in behind one of these flower pots. Buckles
fires his second round at Burns Parham, and he misses
him. And about this time — so a couple of deputy
sheriffs are either walking by or hear what’s going on
outside and come out and get Buckles.
Well, Buckles went on trial here in
Dallas in — right after that. Emmett Cobb, who was a
very fine prominent Dallas lawyer at the time,
represented Buckles. And he got him — he got him off
On insanity. So Buckles goes down to — he goes down
to Rusk down there, and about a year and a half later
they turn him loose.
Well, Burns Parham has told me this
story as well as has told Buddy Grantham this story,
that he was walking into a restaurant about a year and
a half after Buckles had tried to kill him, he’s
walking into a restaurant and here’s Buckles walking
out. And Burns Parham said it as like living life
all over again. “I thought the guy was back to try to
kill me again.”
I get back from Europe, Jack Kincaid
brings me up to date on all these things. And so I
see Buddy later on. I said, “You know, Buddy, you
said my client was crazy. And I think maybe you was
right this time.” And he said, “Well, I tell you why
I said he was crazy, Randy.” He said, “After I had
represented Tegins in that pizza place deal, before
the city council I had an occasion to be down at city
council about three months before I wrote you that
letter wanting Buckles out of the place.” And he
said, “Buckles” — he had that used car lot that he
was leasing at the time from Tegins and the — he had
a trailer parked out there, like a house4 trailer. And
in this house trailer he had a night watchman living
because people kept breaking into the property or
stealing from him there in his car lot. And the city
council didn’t like that because it violated an
And a man named Kirk Waggoner was mayor
at the time. And Kirk — and Buckles is up in front
of the city council, according to Buddy, and what he
had witnessed three months before and the reason that
he suddenly developed this conflict of interest later
on in the Tegins matter — and he said to — or Kirk
Waggoner said to Buckles, he said, “Mr. Buckles, do
you understanding that you’re violating the city
ordinance, and for every day you’ve got that trailer
on that property we could fine you $2007?” And Buckles
responded, “Well, look, you know, I need that for my
night watchman to look after my property.” He said,
“It don’t make no difference; we could fine you $200
for every day.” So Buckles said to — he said to Kirk
Waggoner said back to Buckles, he said, “Well, if you
don’t, I guess we’ll put you in jail.”
Now, this is the reason that Buddy
decides it was a conflict of interest later on down
the road. Buckles looked up at the mayor, and I think
there was five city councilmen — or the mayor and
our city councilmen up there. Buckles looked up at
the mayor, and he said, “Well, if you put me in jail,
you better put me in jail for a long, long time
because if you do I’m going to kill you and I’m going to
kill you and I’m going to kill you.” And one of the
city councilmen said, “Let’s set this thing off for
Thank y’all. It’s been a pleasure being
JUDGE VANCE: Chief Kowalski
JUDGE ELLIS: John, could I interrupt
for just one minute to get the record straight?
JUDGE VANCE: Yes.
JUDGE ELLIS: Randy told this story
about Tessmer taking all of his girlfriends away from
him. Well, all of you don’t know Randy as well as I
do. Randy’s most amorous period was when he used to
ride a Harley Davidson naked at the Dairy Queen in
Lancaster. He had all these young girls around.
My question to Charlie is: What kind of
motorcycle were you riding?
MR. TESSMER: I was horsebound.
CHIEF KOWALSKI: Well, it’s a pleasure
to be here this evening. I say that a little bit
tongue in Cheek because any time a lone police officer
appears before a roomful of judges and attorneys it’s
usually not a good thing for the police officer.
Before I go any further, are there any
other law enforcement officers in the room? I know
there’s a couple. Please raise you hands. There’s
just a couple others. A couple of doors and exits and
we’ll get out of here. How many of y’all are
prosecutors still in the room? Raise your hands.
Just a small end of the law enforcement end. Okay.
How about judges? Current, retired, active judges.
Excellent. Defense attorneys. Oh, we get a bunch of
those. Plaintiffs’ attorneys. Yeah, as I said — as
I was telling you law enforcement guys, it’s a bad day
to be in the room. We’re surrounded.
I’ll try and explain a little bit about
the difference in the sense of humor, and everybody
else has been talking courthouse stories. I don’t
have a lot of courthouse stories, and the main reason
is because I am a policeman. And I have testified in
quite a few of these judges’ courtrooms and before
some of these attorneys who were either prosecutors or
defense attorneys at the time. And I don’t want to
get into swapping stories because if they can play a
burn-down, I would be on the losing end thinking back
on some of my outstanding courtroom appearances.
I would like to tell you a little bit
though, explain the sense of humor that’s different
by way of a story. This is an actual call sheet that
came out of the Dallas Police Department just a few
weeks ago. And the call sheet came out to a bar on
lower Greenville Avenue. They were opening up on a
Sunday morning, and there was a car still parked in
the parking lot. And the bar owner noticed that there
was a guy who was passed out drunk half in the half
out of the parked car. And he was drunk, and he was
naked. And he also had a $5 bill protruding from his
Now, if you laughed at that story, just
that thought of that, the picture of that, you would be
an excellent police officer, because you could
maintain your sense of humor. We have a gallows sense
of humor; you can keep it. And it’s what really helps
you, when you hit those tragic situations in life, to
kind of look at the lighter side.
If you laughed at that story and then
the first thought that went through your mind was “I
wonder who put that money there, and I wonder why,”
then you’re probably either an excellent detective or
a good prosecutor because you’re sharp, you want to
know not only what happened but why, who, what, when
it happened, why, now you’re asking all those
If you thought “Gee, that’s funny; I
wonder why and how that happened, and I wonder if that
guy is generating his own income,” the you’d probably
make an excellent executive of some company or law
enforcement agency like the Sheriff or myself because
we’re always thinking about how to fund things.
If you think “This story is not funny at
all; it’s really sick, and there’s something really
wrong with that policeman in the front of the room,”
you’re probably either a defense attorney or a
plaintiff’s attorney because you don’t find a whole
lot of things the police department does funny.
Moving right along. I would like to
welcome the ladies that are here this evening because
when the fraternity — when the lodge gets together,
the Masons, we — I get awfully tired of the same old,
tired, old, ugly men’s faces every day. It is nice to
see something refreshing, pretty young ladies’ faces
here with us this evening. I do want to
give some bad news to the gentlemen here through. And
the bad news is this, gentlemen: The ladies have it
all over us. I’ve listened to every story this
evening. I’m going to tell you some war stories.
This is from the intake end of the law enforcement —
of the criminal justice system, what we see on the
streets. The ladies have it all over us. They are
infinitely smarter. Just reflect back over some of
the stories we’ve heard this evening. They all
involve men doing what? Something absolutely stupid
or asinine. Aren’t they? Hasn’t that been about 95
percent of the stories? It starts young, and we can’t
Gentlemen, it’s time to thin the herd.
We’ve got to look at the gene pool, and some people
just need to start thinking about thinning the herd.
It starts with us young. The first — the first
problem we see is the slow learners. We see slow
learners in society. All these are true stories; I
experienced them. I was there; these are firsthand
We had an individual one day, no big —
no big case. Probably didn’t enter the criminal
justice system, eventually entered the juvenile’
justice system, He was a purse-snatcher, stole a
lady’s purse, ran off. The lady got a good
description of him, saw which was he ran and even saw
which house he ran into. You know, real Sherlock
Holmes for the young police officer that I was, go up
knock on the door. A young man answers the door. He
fits the description. “Where’s the purse?” He tells
us. He’s in cuffs. We bring him to Juvenile, me and
The young man was a slow learner. He’s
going to be — he’s a little bit arrogant and cocky.
And we get him down to Juvenile. He says, “Yeah, you
got me, but you guys ain’t so smart. My brother was
in the house, and he’s wanted for aggravated robbery.”
Yeah, you’re right; we’re not very smart at all.
The juvenile detectives hang on to him
for a few minutes. We go back to the house and —
(knocking) — his older brother opens the door. “Can
I help you?” “Yeah. What’s your name?” He tells us.
He was wanted for aggravated robbery and burglary.
And so we took him off. Gave him to a couple of other
officers; they booked him in. Go back to start
booking in the juvenile for the purse-snatching
because the other one was just warrants. Now we have
to make reports.
We tell the young man, “Hey, thanks for
that trip. Now your brother is in jail too.” Slow
learner. “You guys think you’re so smart, huh?
You’re never going to catch my dad. He’s the one
that’s really wanted out of the family.” Well, we
went down and pulled up Dad’s name and rap sheet, and
he was wanted. We never did find him around that
house; we looked for two years.
Two years go by. The young man — slow
learner, slow learner — he also had committed a rape,
and then we brought down his character witnesses
because we had arrested him earlier when he was a
young career criminal. And we’re sitting there and
guess who shows up for his trial. Yeah, his dad
showed up for trial. And Dad was still wanted, and we
took Daddy away in cuffs.
And the attorney was a little bit upset,
and he said, “Well, you don’t understand, you don’t
understand. I’ve got him here under subpoena. You
can’t take him away; I have a subpoena for him. We
said, “Well, he’ll just be right across the street in
the courthouse — or in the jailhouse over there, and
we can get him whenever you want.”
But I’m telling you men, we need to thin
the herd. We’re slower learners, and it starts young.
That young man — well, he was a little bit upset too
when he saw daddy go in cuffs. We reminded him
that he’s the one who put us on. He’s probably the
best informant we ever had.
Well, we go from being slow learners to
confusion. Another actual story. I was a training
officer at this point; had been on about seven years.
They gave me a female recruit to train, and one night
the narcotics officers called us and they wanted us to
assist them in a drug raid. The drug raid was on the
trailer home of a topless dancer. We needed a female
officer to be there to do the search.
Those of you all that aren’t familiar
with it, in a drug raid there’s usually a full body
cavity search of the individuals being arrested, and
being a female suspect they wanted a female officer.
Well, we raid this topless dancer’s place. The female
officer goes in the bedroom to do the search. And the
next thing I know — (knocking) — from the closed
door, “Doug, you better get in here,” from my female
partner. I said, “Is the suspect clothed?” “No, but
you better get in here anyway.” I said, “No. You
give me the clothed suspect.” She said, “No. You
really need to get in here.” So myself and a couple
of vice detectives went in thee and — confusion.
See, this was a topless dancer from the waist up, and
it was a male dancer from the waist down.
And I had been an officer about seven
years at the point, and I was really naive because it
was just throwing me completely — I wasn’t — the
mind was seeing, but it was not comprehending. And to
show you more confusion, not just to pick on this poor
individual. We have to book this individual into the
jailhouse. And we get down tot he jailhouse the prisoner
goes in, the male side or the female side. So we get
a bunch of male officers together to try to decide
this. And of course we’re slow learners, we’re
confused, we can’t figure it out. We see all kinds of
possibilities of problems on either side.
They brought over a female jail
supervisor. And again the women are much smarter than
us. The female jail supervisor calls the dancer over
and says, “You have a …” She said, “Yes.” And the
jail supervisor, a female, says, “Does it work?” I
would have never thought of that question. And the
dancer said, “Yes.” She said, “Male side.” You
ladies have a way of getting right to the heart of the
And to continue on with my story about
men and why we’re so dumb, we have slow learners. As
we get older — this goes right to right — we have
confusion. Then we get into stupidity, out and out
stupidity. It’s probably cause by a testosterone
imbalance throughout our early adulthood. I’ll give
you a quick case. It actually started out tragically.
I was a Sergeant at this point working in the
Southeast Division and there was a early Sunday
morning, very early Sunday morning, and I was on duty.
And there was a rape that had just been reported in
another division, in Central. This man had abducted
this lady off the street, dragged her into the car,
drove her off to some alley, raped her at gunpoint.
And before he let her go he said, “I want you to have
a piece of my birthday cake.” Now this guy is goofy.
He was pretty scary, gunpoint and everything and
giving her a piece of birthday cake. We were very
concerned about this guy. We put out a description.
It wasn’t much of a description. You know, vehicle
color, two-door, general direction of travel. He was
headed towards the southeast.
I see a car that fits that general
description. It’s red, it’s got two doors. The
suspect fits the basic description of the driver. I
pull if over. I don’t know if I’ve got the right guy.
And I walk up to him and I say, “Excuse me, sir. Can
you step out of car?” He says, “Yeah,” and gets out.
I asked him, I said, “I need you to go down to
jailhouse with me. We’re going to put you in a
lineup.” He said, “No, you can’t put me in jail
today.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “It’s my
birthday.” That’s stupidity.
Well, I can’t let you ladies completely
off the hook because in addition to stupidity though
you have a way of causing men certain poor judgment,
errors in judgment. We have — you force us to make
some emotional decisions, and we exhibit episodes of
poor judgment. For example, another time while a
Sergeant at Southeast I get a call on a burglary in
progress, hot call, 4111. We go flying there. The
suspect is kicking in the front door trying to break
in, a women on the inside. Oh, serious.
We come screaming up Code 3. The guy
see us. The door’s halfway kicked. He breaks and
runs. We chase him two blocks, catch him. He
resists. We cuff him up, drag him back. He looks
like he’s running through a bad episode with the
police, you know, the Cops TV program. We drag him
back and contact the lady. She goes, “I sure am glad
you caught him. I told him not to come back tonight.”
“You told him not to come back tonight?” “Yeah, he
came back late, and I threw him out and — he lives
here, and I didn’t want him to come back home.” Oh,
my. We said, “We pulled up on this call and you said
it was a burglary in progress and this guy ran.”
So then we tried to ask the man. “You
live here?” He said, “Yes.” “Why did you run from
the police?” And he explained to us, “You don’t
understand. This woman had me so upset. I was so
upset, I was very upset, and I saw the police. I
didn’t know what to do, so I ran.” “But you’re
running from your own house?” “But she drove me to be
upset to the highest degree of pissitivity.” I
learned a new word that night. The funny thing is I
think that I knew exactly what he meant. We dusted
him off rather nicely and let him spend the evening in
his house. So we have those episodes of poor
Finally, as we progress through a man’s
life we get into senility. And this is a story of
when I was a captain in the tactical division. And we
had an incident where there was a guy approximately
86,87 years old. He wife was about the same age.
She would call for an ambulance because she was in
poor health. She felt badly. The ambulance would
always come and because of her age, she had trouble
breathing. They would bring her to the hospital. The
hospital would look at her. They couldn’t do a whole
lot, and they wouldn’t admit her. And the man would
get a bill for the ambulance drive later on, pretty
He didn’t like that. He didn’t like
this routine. He got tired of it. Well, slow
learner, confusion, stupidity, bad judgment, now old
age, some senility is setting in and he decides he
doesn’t want to go to the hospital in that ambulance
anymore; it’s a pretty expensive taxicab. Instead of
putting his foot down about it though, he decided to
pull a pistol and started waving it at the ambulance
Time marches on. They call the police,
the police show up, and the gentleman decides it would
be a good idea to make everybody leave by firing a few
shots at them. The police frowned on that; so did the
ambulance drivers. They call for the tactical
division. We came out and surrounded the house. And
I’ll tell you what, it was one of the longest PB’s we
ever had. WE were out there approximately 24 hours
because nobody wanted to be in the position of
basically neutralizing an 87-year-old individual in
his old house whose biggest complaint right now is
with the ambulance bill he’s getting.
So we negotiate and we negotiate, and we
thought the man would eventually go to sleep and we’d
go in there. I guess he was an insomniac also. We
were getting very tired. He stayed inside wide awake
and wore out four negotiators, this 86, 87-year-old
gentlemen, four negotiators. Sitting back on this —
I’ve had this theory my whole life. About 24 hours
into the incident I decided, you know what I missed, I
missed my theory. See, this is a man we’re talking to
and all four negotiators are men. The whole night the
thing we heard in the background was the droning of
his wife saying, “Please let the ambulance come.
Please let the ambulance take me. Please let the
ambulance take me.” It finally dawned on us — or on
me is that the key to this issue was: Women are
infinitely smarter than men. Let’s get a female
police officer in here to talk to this guy on the
phone. 15 minutes later he walks out of the house
because she’s told him the Sunshine van is going to
come take him and his wife to the hospital.
You ladies are infinitely smarter than
us. And gentlemen, I leave you with the theory of we
really need to be careful and think about thinning the
herd to upgrade the gene pool because the women are
going to take over. There’s no two ways about it;
they’re smarter than us. We’ve been in charge way too
But while I am up here I want to say
this one thing in closing. I’m very honored to be
here with this group this evening, and the main reason
why I feel honored is this group in particular
exhibits several traits that I admire. One is
integrity. I find that very inspiring. Second is
talent of course. Everyone up here is quite talented.
But the third ingredient to anybody that’s successful,
and I think it’s the most important is persistence.
And some people call it experience. That’s part of
it, but it’s persistence. I think everyone up here
has had a whole series of probably ups and downs in
their lives and careers, every speaker. And it’s not
the talent that hot them through, but persistence.
They got up every day and kept plugging away at it.
And I admire all these individuals. And I think I can
say that — because I don’t ever get to say this
anyplace else — I think I’m probably the youngest
person up here speaking to you this evening. Thank
you very much.
JUDGE VANCE: Hugh Lucas
MR. LUCAS: You know, I look over this
group and, along with Mike McCollum, I thought I was
going to be the youngest guy until Doug pulled in.
But I think the way it used to be back when I came
with the D.A.’s. Henry Wade would have his Christmas
party at his house. You could bring all your friends,
your spouse, everyone, and everyone could get in Mr.
Wade’s house at one time. Now it’s over 200 Assistant
But things are so much different now. I
know when I came up from East Texas, you know, to
Dallas and the First Assistant — or at least I
thought he was the First Assistant was Bill Alexander.
I’d go to his office, and he’s yelling and screaming
and cussing and raising cain on the phone. He was
still being hounded back in the late 60’s still about
the Kennedy assassination. And people were still
calling him all the time, you know, to give his views
on it. Some reporter was calling him from New York
about that time, you know, and getting on Alexander’s
case real heavy. And, you know, he turned — he over
the telephone just tells the reporter, “Well, why
don’t you just come down to Dallas, and we’ll arrange
a parade for you too.”
Alexander was different to say the
least. He wasn’t there very long after I came to
Dallas. He said a few other things that got him in
some trouble and ended up leaving the D.A.’s office.
But the Criminal Bar Association was quite different
back then. I was told when I first came to the office
that one thing you don’t do — you have a lot of fun
at the D.A.’s office, but you don’t embarrass Henry
Wade. And they gave me the example of the Assistant
D.A. a year or two earlier who attended a criminal bar
party. And regardless of what they say up in
Washington, he committed some type of sexual offense
in front of the entire Criminal Bar Association as I
understand. But I don’t know if any of this group was
present. I won’t ask anyone to raise their hands to
cop out to being present. I was not there. I was not
there, but —
MALE AUDIENCE MEMEBER: The assistant
district attorney from another county and the county
judge were there.
MR. LUCAS: And anyway, that Assistant
D.A. I understand was fired the next day. So I
understood — I was taught early you don’t embarrass
Henry Wade, you know.
We had what we called the press party
back then. The parties were parties back during that
time, and we all thought we had some type of license
or exemption from public intox or DWI or anything else
back in the 60’s. Maybe we did; I don’t know. But
the infamous press parties they had back then, any of
you — you need to know that this is a party that was
held at Christmastime down in the basement of the
courthouse, alcohol, everything, a lot of food. This
was about ten feet from where people were posting
bonds for DWI’s, you know. So it was kind of a —
kind of an interesting situation. You’d be — have a
drink in each hand. Ten feet away some individual and
their family would be posting bond. So you felt a
little awkward walking out in the hallway with your
drinks at that time, but it was just a different era.
And, again, this would be a situation where they’d
have maybe four, and one to the other and end up
possibly at Mr. Minyard’s party. And we all remember
those. It was good times.
But the practical joking then was
something that you just — you never really got used
to. I came in with a pretty good group. Jim Barklow,
Mike McCollum, Bill Hill, Jon Sparling, Winfield
Scott, a bunch of pretty good guys that I followed
that came into the D.A.’s office. But one of the
first things they would tell a rookie prosecutor —
and, again, here I was a country boy coming into town
who was the — you know how we would be issued our
pistols by Mr. Wade. This had to be Barklow probably
that was telling me this. I’m sitting there with my
mouth open eager to get my pistol, you know, from Mr.
Wade. He said, “Hugh, you just go in and ask him —
you know, you’re the new prosecutor. After you’ve
been here 30 days, you’re entitled to — you know,
either a .38 caliber, .45, whatever you like, you
know.” And, yeah, I fell for it. And Wade looks up,
you know, and runs me out. It was — but they do
Jan “Snooky” Davis, the investigator, he
was chief investigator. Well, Wade didn’t like for
his investigators to be playing police or to have
badges or be involved in raids or anything of that
store. Well, Snooky Davis assigned Charles Carver, a
new investigator up there, the task of coming up with
the design for a badge that Mr. Wade would approve of.
Carver took this real serious. You’d have to know
Charles Carver to appreciate it. But he went to all
the different police stations and got designs, and
finally he was so proud of his work and showed it to
Snooky. And Snooky said, “Well, I’m sure Mr. Wade can
pick a — pick a — make a selection of which badge he
wants.” Of course Carver takes in his handbook, all
of his drawings and everything. And it took Wade
about two minutes to run Carver out of the office.
But these were the things that went on back then.
Charles was a heck of an investigator,
but he got in a little bit of trouble pulling over
speeders on the freeway. While he was riding his
motorcycle he’d pull over individuals. He tried to
arrest someone for urinating in public on the toll
road. He stopped someone for speeding out there one
time, and it turned out to be one of Mr. Wade’s good
friends. So he was a heck of a guy, a really good
investigator. The last — the last straw I guess was
when Charles on a reindictment went out to arrest an
individual and got the office in a big lawsuit.
So, again, this was the era back then.
And we had a lot of fun. Most of the individuals that
I practiced with back then still have their law
license. There’s a few that don’t. But there’s some
interesting names from the past. You know, we talk
about Trombone Martin, Jim — Jim Martin, Rughead, Bob
Stinson, Collie Sullivan, Nay Wade. It was really an
era of personalities. And here I was a young
lawyer — had black hair at that time, you know — who
was really impressed by these individuals. They had a
lot of fun. They practiced law. And as was said a
little earlier, you know, everybody had some integrity
back then. And we really — we really got along and
we really had a lot of fun.
And I was in the Grand Jury for a number
of years. And I guess the statute of limitations has
run on most of this stuff. Let me tell you about the
most interesting case. You know, everybody in the
Grand Jury I think other than me became a judge, you
know, at some point. There’s Schwille, Mike Schwille,
Richard Mays, Bob Day. So I think I’m the only one
that didn’t get that far. they all told of all these
thousands and thousands and thousands of cases they
tried. Of course a lot of them were in the Grand
Jury, and we tried about 60 a day. So it accumulates
pretty fast when you’re dealing 60 a day.
My most interesting case, out of
probably 15 or 20,000 that went through the Grand
Jury, was the case of the man that wanted to prosecute
his wife for sexual assault. And this case came out
of Rowlett, Texas. And I — you know, I took an
interest in this case. It seemed like it was
something, you know, that really needed to be —
needed to be investigated. So we brought the
complainant up. The complainant was a man about 45
years old who wanted to prosecute his wife who was
convinced, absolutely convinced that she was trying
to — to kill him by having sex with him on too
regular an occasion. That he was in poor health and
he would describe how this healthy defendant wife of
his was actually trying to kill him, you know, by
having sex with him too much, her weight and his
insurance policy and everything.
Well, the Grand Jury took a big interest
in this case. We brought in the investigator from
Rowlett, we brought in the patrol officer. And during
that particular time the police officers would testify
first. So we wanted to make sure this Rowlett officer
testified before anyone. Bottom line in the case, I
think, is that the defendant was in fact no billed in
the case. The case never made it to the courthouse.
I really back during that time had a sense of humor.
I wanted to send it up to the courts, but it just
didn’t seem like the right thing. I think that would
come back to haunt me.
Everybody has got Herb Green stories. I
tried a lot of cases with Herb Green. And I wish some
of you who didn’t know him could have known him. Herb
Green was an interesting individual. As was said
earlier, Herb could speak pretty good Spanish but not
great Spanish. I’ll never forget the time that
Richard Mays asked Herb to do some interpreting for a
defendant in Spanish and told — swore the defendant
in, asked him to raise his right hand. Herb
translates in Spanish, and we think that he’s telling
the defendant to raise his right hand. The defendant
raises both hands like this. So Herb almost got it
correct. Instead of raising his right hand, he raised
both hands. Herb in voir dire would ask everyone many
times, you know, “Do you live in a hill, or do you
live in a valley?” Herb’s idea was if you lived on a
hill, you’re always looking down on people. You know,
you’re not going to be a very good juror because
you’re looking down on your fellow human beings.
Whereas if you lived in the valley and you’re looking
up, you know, you’re the common man. That’s the type
person that Herb would want.
We were trying a case one time with Herb
where the defendant was accused of trying to kill this
lady and his idea, his confession stated that he
wanted to have sexual intercourse with her after he
killed her. Well, Herb decided that, you know, this
is normal behavior. So he subpoenaed Dudley Hughes,
who was then President of the — whatever foundation,
the funeral home foundation in Texas and brought him
up there to prove to this jury that — you know, that
this is normal behavior, there’s not nothing really
that unusual about it. And I’ll never forget the
embarrassment on Dudley Hughes’ face when he had to
testify when Herb’s asking him those particular cases.
So, again, it was a good time. We miss
a lot of those people. Dalford Todd was one of the
first individuals I met. A more honorable person you
couldn’t find than Dalford, and I mean that.
A few words in closing with Charles
Tessmer. In 30 years I’ve been practicing law I
invited my mother and dad to come to see one trial
that I was in. I was prosecuting a case, and Charles
Tessmer was the defense attorney. I’ve tried Charles
in two cases, murder cases. The first case, the
defendant found his wife — she was suppose to be at
the PTA meeting. Instead she was at the Debonair
Danceland. He came home from a long-haul truck drive
in Garland, Texas, found her out at the Debonair, drug
her home, and proceeded to assassinate her — excuse
me — kill her. Charles’ defense was that he just —
he caught her, you know, he was distraught, he went
home, he was packing away his pistol, you know, to
leave the house, they got in a scuffle. It was either
an accident or self-defense, and the defendant was in
The second case I tried with Charles
Tessmer, the defendant was separated from his wife, he
call her from near Fort Worth, says “I’m coming over
there; I’m going to kill you.” He comes over there.
He doesn’t kill her; he kills her brother. Charles
tells the jury in voir dire, he says, “Well, we’re
going to ask you to find the defendant guilty of
voluntary manslaughter and I thought that was rather
awkward. He said, “After the punishment stage we’re
going to ask you to grant this defendant ten years
probation.” Here again, the defendant — the evidence.
He’s coming over, he’s going to kill her. Sure enough
voluntary manslaughter and ten years probation.
So Tessmer is the golden throat. He was
and is one of the best trial lawyers anywhere any
time, embarrassed me in front of my family, you know.
Gosh, it was one of those 15, 20-minute verdicts. But
my story on Charles is exactly the opposite. Instead
of him being the flashy dresser in that particular
jury, Charlie takes off the Rolex, takes off all the
jewelry, you know, and everything, has his mason
jewelry on, you know, and his Timex watch and smooth
talked that jury just like he has many, many times.
And I — you know, I was super impressed. My family
left, you know, kind of sad. but I told them that
it’s the way it — that’s the way it goes. Win a few,
lose a few. And so that was my experience with
MR. TESSMER: You missed something very
important. Blackie Sherrod was at that criminal bar
party but never had a drink. So he was sitting next
to me in front of the Assistant District Attorney. He
took one look at that and hit the door. I asked him
later, I said, “Why, Blackie?” He said, “I thought
there might be a trial.” That’s the closest witness
MR. LUCAS: That’s true. But, again,
the times were good. I wish you could have been there
during some of the experiences we had back then. But,
you know, the D.A.’s office continues. It’s been
brought up by Mr. Vance. I’m sure Bill Hill is going
to do an excellent job too. But we appreciate y’all
coming and sticking with us through this tonight.
(Pause for reporter.)
JUDGE VANCE: Okay, Bill Glaspy.
MR. GLASPY: A few of us — and I’ve
always practiced law — if the defendant can tell me a
story his mama can believe, I may can sell it to the
jury. If he can tell me a story that his mama can’t
believe, we hadn’t got a chance. And the first case
that — there was a little armed robbery that hit
7-Eleven stores at one of their central depositories
at about 25 or $30,000. I get the call, the guy is in
jail. I go to the Dallas police station. I don’t
know whether we can get him out on bond or not. He’s
kind of like Clayton Fowler said, “He looked like he
had a little rabbit in him; he might be gone.” I
talked to him a little bit. And I said, “What’s —
what happened?” He says, “Well, I was going to
Houston to get a job. And I got lost and ended up in
a bar in Waco. I went to the men’s room, and they
didn’t have toilet paper and there was a sack. And I
tore off a piece of the sack and $25,000 fell out in
my hands. And so I went in and bought drinks for the
bar, whole bunch of drinks for the bar. And then the
police came and arrested him and had the recycling
corporation bands around the money, and that was the
deal. I said, “Boy, this is going to be tough,
tough case to try to sell.”
So I had an examining trial, and I send
the other lawyer down to do the examining trial. And
he came back and said, “You’ve got a winner.” I said,
“That’s going to be hard. What happened?” Well,
Charles McClure who was handling the examining trial
put on the sole witness and he says, “Do you recognize
this man?” “No, sir, I don’t.” “Your Honor, can they
have the defendnat stand up?” The defendant stood up.
“Now, do you recognize this man?” “No, sir, I don’t.”
“Your Honor, may the defendant come down and get
closer to the witness — or the witness get closer to
the defendant? Now do you recognize the man?” “No,
sir, I don’t.” “Your Honor, he’s got his collar
turned up a little bit. Could you have him turn his
collar down where he can see his face? No do you
recognize the man?” “No, sir I don’t.” McClure said,
“You mean to tell me you don’t know who this man is?”
He says, “Of course I know who this man is.” “Tell
the court who he is.” “That’s the man for two weeks
you’ve been saying robbed me, and that’s the man for
two weeks I’ve been telling you didn’t do it.” We got
that one no-billed.
One of the real characters around the
courthouse for years, before he got religion and moved
out of West Texas where he’s making money, was Mike
Barclay. And Barclay is trying a check case in John
Mead’s court. And Ben Soliner who was the prosecutor
running the check station — section never knew how to
try a case in his life. And Ben is down there, and
Jim Miller is helping him. So Miller says, “Soliner,
you’ve got to introduce into evidence the check.” So
Soliner takes the check and walks over to the jury and
says, “Here.” And Miller says, “Have it marked
first.” So he goes to the first juror and says. “Mark
this.” And He says, “No. By the court reporter.”
She takes it over to the court reporter and says, “Mark
it.” And he says, “Now show it to the defense and
have it identified” — talking about to the witness.
And so Soliner walks over and hands the check to
Barclay and says, “Identify this.” Barclay stands up
and says, “May it please the Court. Prosecutor for
the State has handed the defendant a one-way bus
ticket to Fort Worth which we accept,” puts it in his
pocket and sits back down. “Give it back, give it
back, give it back.”
The — I don’t know how many of y’all
know or knew Elizabeth Carp, but Elizabeth was one of
the first lady lawyers — first female lawyers in
Dallas. And you did not want to have lunch with
Elizabeth in polite company because anything could
come out of Elizabeth’s mouth, none of it good. So
she’s on the elevator cussing up a stream one day, and
Robert Guthrie, Jim Guthrie’s brother who was the
Nuremberg trial judge, a real gentlemen, a Rhodes
scholar they get off the elevator in the old Records
Building where we had central jury call for all the
civil cases. And he says, “Elizabeth, you make me
sick.” No, he said, “ill.” Sick is not the correct
word. He said, “Elizabeth, you make me ill.”And she
stood there with her hands on her hips and said, “Ill?
Ill? Robert Guthrie, that’s not what you said to me
when you was in San Antonio trying to get in my bed.”
Robert missed docket call and took off.
We had a bailiff — actually he was a
jailer there at the old — in the old Records
Building — Criminal Courts Building, the jail, named
Butch West. And when you come down through that
elevator and through those doors, Butch had to let you
in and out. Actually, he had to punch two or three
buttons to let you get totally outside. And Butch
never could get it straight. And the prisoners
weren’t supposed to walk outside. So Decker told
Butch, “One more prisoner escapes and you’re fired.”
Well, Butch didn’t want to go to work
for a living, so he was being very careful. And there
was a young — a little fellow — and I think his name
was Monaco or something like that. The prisoners grab
ahold of Monaco, put a knife to his throat, and take
him down and say “Open the gate or we’re going to cut
his throat.” Butch said, “Cut his damn throat.” So
Monaco says, “No, no, no, wait a minute, wait a
minute, Butch, Butch, Butch, open the gate.” “You
know what Decker told me. I let anybody out of here
I’m fired. Cut his throat.” “Call Bob” — the
supervisor. “Call Bob, call Bob. Help. Don’t do
this. Wait a minute, guys. Wait a minute.” So Bob
comes in and says, “Let’ em out, Butch.” Butch says,
“I ain’t going to do it. Cut his throat.” Bob said,
Butch, let ’em out. That’s an order.” He says, “It’s
not an order unless you put it in writing.” “But I
don’t have a pen.” “You better go get one.” Monaco
is sitting there — Monaco had really gotton upset
about this. They caught them a couple days later, but
— and Decker didn’t fire Butch.
One of the goodies was Edgar Smith.
Edgar was lawyer around Skidrow Bar Association.
Edgar had a piece of property he had up for bonds —
where he could make bonds. The Sheriff was getting
ready to post it for foreclosure because they had run
up and Edgar hadn’t paid the bond forfeitures, and you
had to foreclose between 10:00 and 4:00. And Edgar
was begging the Sheriff not to — it was deputy
sheriff — not to foreclose, give him some more time,
and he had the money coming. And they started, they
was going to sell it at 10:00. And Edgar said, “Wait
till 12:00.” The Sheriff said, “Okay. “Wait, wait
till 2:00.” “Okay. No more.” So at 2 o’clock
they’re going to have the sale and Edgar pleads. It
gets down to 3:30. And so they’re getting ready to
have the sale, and the Sheriff is calling the sale.
And Edgar says “Here’s my man, here’s my man, he’s
coming.” So the Sheriff waits, and five minutes to
4:00 the Sheriff says, “That’s it; we’re having the
sale.” So he starts to call the sale, and Edgar hauls
off and hits him right in the face, knocks him down,
and they’re rolling around on the dirt and fighting
and everything. And when the fight is over, Edgar is
saying, “What time is it? What time is it?” One
minute after 4:00. So they had to wait another month
for the sale.
You know, I don’t think we can go
through the fun day without mentioning Joe B. Brown.
Joe B. Brown tried the Ruby case, but he was a classic
example of someone who had great fun all the time.
And we’re in that court right after what — Cross got
life for killing those two co-eds down at the
University of Texas. And we’re picking a jury, and
Henry Wade and Alexander at the time, they kind of
controlled what the Dallas Morning News said about
crime. And there was a headline that said, “Cross
gets life. Will probably serve three years.”
So Curtis Glover is picking this jury
against me on a damn robbery, and they’re saying,
“Anybody consider life as proper punishment for a
robbery?” You know they would have given life to
their mama after seeing that headline. They all read
that newspaper. And so I thought, oh, we’ve got to
get a mistrial out of this. So I’m sitting there and
I say — my turn comes, and I say, “You know, y’all
can’t really believe what The Dallas Morning News says
there.” And Curtis objects. And the judge says,
“What — what — what did you say, Bill?” Because Joe
B. didn’t listen too well. I’m standing back by the
jury rail. And I said, “Oh, I’m just telling about
that baloney in The Dallas Morning News, Judge, you
know about three years equals life in the
penitentiary. And that’s baloney.” Joe B. says,
“Come up here, come up here.” So he gets up there and
he leans over and he says, “Bill, we all know that The
Dallas Morning News has got 95 percent of this stuff
wrong, but you can’t tell the jury that.” But he left
his microphone on. So we got a mistrial.
I don’t remember whether it was Droby
and Martin — I think it was, or it might have been
Droby and Stinson drove out to West Texas. They got a
lady not guilty because of insanity, both at the time
of the shooting and at the time of the trial.
Sometime in between that they’re celebrating on the
way back. Then they remember that the deed they got
to her farm was given to them by this insane woman
sometime. It sure did put a damper on it. Thank you.
JUDGE VANCE: Charles Caperton.
MR. CAPERTON: Okay, folks, I want some
answers to these questions. We got a — we got a
list, the speakers did, and one of them says, “What’s
your best advice to young prosecutors?” And I wrote
back. I sent mine in typed. I don’t know what they
did with these, but I put: “To young prosecutors, I
would say seize the day; dismiss a case without asking
And then it says, best advice to young
police officers and sheriff’s deputies: “Have a good
lawyer as a friend; you may be a defendant some day.
And especially today.”
And best advice to young probation
officers is to: “Ease up a little bit, some coke in
the urine doens’t mean he’s ready for a cell.”
And if I could do it all over again, I
would take more time off, have more kids, and try some
I plead and plead some I tried.
And I was just thinking when they were
talking about Tom Howard, this — John and I were
chief prosecutors together, John Vance. And I can’t
believe I’m as old as these guys. They all look a lot
older to me.
But anyway Tom Howard had a client one
time — I’ll tell this one story and I’ll get off the
podium. this little guy weighed about 105 pounds
charged with rape, and the victim was about 6’2″ and
weighed about 270. She was the biggest woman I ever
saw in my life. The rape was alleged to have occurred
in the West Dallas housing projects, and she told
about how — you know, I took her through the steps
and how she had just laid there and she was fanning
herself on a hot summer afternoon and had the fan
going and she had disrobed and she was wetting herself
with a rag and letting the fan blow over her just to
keep cool. And this guy comes by, looks through the
window, pulls his pocket knife out, crawls through the
window and gets on her violates her and this
terrible rapes took place.
Well, when she got to telling it, she
said, “He stood me up against the door to my apartment
and raped me.” Well, I mean you could see — I mean,
if they were toes to toes, his nose would have been in
it, you know. And then if they’re nose to nose, his
toes would have been in it. So there’s no way on
earth that that man could have — you know, up against
Well, of course — naturally you
couldn’t let it go in total, you know. I had to get
back in. I said, “Well, I wnt you to explain to the
jury how terrible this attack was and what was going
on there.” Well, he had me up against the wall, and
he violated me. And I said, “Standing up?” You know,
and she said, “Yes, yes, standing up.” I said, “Well,
exactly how did it work?” She said, “Well, I honkered
down a little bit.” And you know that jury went out
and convicted him anyway. Good old Dallad juries.
And that’s another thing. When I left
the D.A.’s office, I think out of 403 trials or
something, I lost four — you know, we lost four. And
I thought I may have been oneof the greatest lawyers
that ever lived until my first year and a half out in
private practice, and I didn’t have one victory. I
had 12 or 15 straight guilties in a row. And I
thought, God, my talent’s gone. I’ve lost the edge;
you know. I’m not trying enough. But anyway it was a
heck of a lot of fun then.
And another thing, when Henry assigned
you a case — when you got a case out of the Grand
Jury, when you were a felony prosecutor, you did not
have to ask nobody. You would not just dismiss
something out of hand, but you wrote out your
dismissal. I never had one refused. I never had Jim
Bowie or Henry Wade refuse to sign a dismissal. If I
wanted to reduce it to a misdemeanor or do something
like that, they trusted the prosecutors they hired in
those days. You know, these guys now, I feel sorry
for them; they can’t make a decision, you know, about
anything. And I think it’s good — I don’t know
whether it’s because there are so many of them now or
what. Because when I — you know, when I went to work
for the D.A.’s office we were in the Records Building.
The white courthouse wasn’t even built yet. I
remember walking over with Sheriff Decker, as a matter
of fact, and everyone took their chairs that had a
back chair. Remember that? If you had a back on your
chair, you dang sure wanted to make sure it got to the
white courthouse. Well, he told us, he said, “Now, in
a week these little old pipes they put in there in the
jail are going to be full of mattress covers, and
you’re going to have water dripping all through the
D.A.’s office.” Sure enough, the second Monday
morning the hallways were full of water and dripping
through the ceiling in the jail.
But in those days a Decker hold really
was something. I don’t know how many of y’all were
even around during that time, but there wasn’t a
district judge in the state of Texas that would have
granted a guy a release if it had a Decker hold on it.
And that’s a fact. That’s because they honored that
man. His word was good everywhere.
And I think that’s a great thing, what
my friend Dalford said, we all — we had four liars,
folks. We knew who the four liars were. And nobody
gave them any credence. Everybody else you knew was
an honorable person and told the truth and you could
believe them, you know, no matter what they said. And
I think we need to get back to some of that. I think
that’s really important, to have the integrity in
yourself and reflect it, you know, in our courts
because I don’t feel trusted, I don’t feel honored, I
don’t feel like I did then. I think it was — I think
it was good and I think we can do something to get
back to it. My daughter is my law partner now, and I
hope that she says a time when all of us are honored
like we used to be. We can all work to that. Jim
Barklow is next speaker.
MR. BARKLOW: You know, it’s fun just
being here tonight because hearing other people speak
brings back some of the really great memories of
trials and times at the courthouse.
I look at Randy Taylor and I think about
a trail that lasted four days where we spent three of
them he was trying to put a policeman’s hat in
evidence and I was trying to keep him from it because
the officer kept telling me, he said, “I’ve got to
have that hat; I can’t go on duty without that hat.”
Ralph Taite, we stayed out one night in
Criminal District Court Number 3. The jury came in
with a verdict. The judge kept them back in the jury
room for 30 minutes while Ralph Taite and Larry
Fenstrom and I think Buddy Irwin and I played gin
rummy. It was a very, very close game, and we did
finish the game. The jury never knewe that. Judge
Zimmerman’s court always went late. It was called the
I look around here, and I see other
people that I have fond memories of. The first day I
went to work at the D.A.’s office, they told me I
needed to go out and do an examining trial in Judge
Richburg’s court at 1 o’clock. I didn’t know what an
examining trial was. I went out there and sat and I
thought, well, maybe I can watch and see one. Well,
in those days not everybody had a telephone like right
now. And I swear the phone rang up on the bench. I
couldn’t believe it. I watched very carefully and I
think — I’m not sure, but I think Judge Richburg
divorced somebody by phone.
You know, it was interesting, that first
case I had, that first examing trial. I started off
with something light. It was a murder case. Who did
I have on the other side? Charlie Tessmer. I tell
you he treated me like a real gentlemen. I think I
was probably the only one in the courtroom that was
more afraid than perhaps his client. I doubt if he
ever got true billed.
I look around the room here, and Hugh
Lucas tells about practical jokes. He forgot to tell
about the practical joke about the case that came out
of the indictment — or the indictment came out of the
Grand Jury. Remember that, Hugh? You know, we’d get
our cases every week. One prosecutor would get all
the cases. And then if you had a companion case that
came out, you’d get maybe one extra one. We made up
an entire case file on a rape with Lucas as the
At any rate, they went around and handed
out the files, and Lucas is sitting in his office.
And I went around there, and I said, “Hugh, did you
get any indictments today?” He said, “No.” Stuffed
it in his file cabinet. We didn’t pay it much mind,
but his fiancee came down to watch him in trial about
a week later. And while Hugh was down in the
courtroom she waited in his office and started reading
his case files. Well, that was an embarrassing
We did — you know, when you think about
the criminal lawyers that we had then, you can tell by
the names. I mean, what have we got up here? Well,
we’ve got Mike and Charlie, you know, and Ken, Stan.
But back at the beginning when I first started out, we
had Trombone Martin, Rughead Martin, Too Many Martin.
I mean, there were some colorful-named folks.
Trombone Martin you should never have missed if you
had the opportunity to go down and get in a trial with
Trombone. He was wonderful. He’d give the most
wonderful arguments. And when he got ready to really
wind up, it was going to be a dramatic close. He’d
reach back and grab the back of his pants leg and then
he let it rip. And one thing about Trombone, he never
could whisper. Everything came out in kind of a
monotone that you could hear throughout the courtroom.
And they tell a story about Trombone and the young
lawyer that were trying a case together. Each had
their own defendant. And Trombone puts his client up
on the witness stand to testify. and after he gets
finished testifying, he comes back and sits down.
Trombone leans over to the young lawyer and he says,
“Put your man on the stand.” The young lawyer goes,
“I can’t.” Trombone says, “Why not?” Of course the
jury can hear all this. The young lawyer says, “He’s
got a record.” Trombone says, “A record? That will
kill us.” It did.
We talk about eyewitnesses. I went into
one trial, it was s holdup of a club over here on
Greenville Avenue. A woman was closing up late, and
this guy came in and robbed her. And we were trying
that case, and she got on the witness stand and we
went through the usual litany of “Do you see the man
here in the courtroom?” We did, we had a pretty
dramatic pointing out. And she says, “That’s him
right there.” Whereupon, he leans over to his lawyer
and he says, “That lying bitch. I had a mask on.”
You know, Judge Ellis — this was the
first court I was in. Everybody said — my
father-in-law told me, he was a lawyer and an ex-FBI
agent, he says, “You really want to get in Guthrie’s
court; Jim Guthrie is the most wonderful person.” And
he was; he was a wonderful person. Mr. Wade assigned
me to this new court, a court that had a judge only
for about six months. And it turnedout to be Ben
Ellis’s court. and it was the hardest working, most
trying court you’ve ever seen in your life. And the
first year he broke records in the number of jury
trials. And sometimes we’d hae three juries going at
the same time, and he’d say, “Mr. Bailey, bring the
jury in. ” And Ed Bailey would say, “Which one,
Judge Ellis had one thing about him,
though, that was such a saving point for the young
lawyer. As a trial lawyer and a prosecutor himself,
he always knew what the ruling would be on an
objection. Just like that. Never had to think a
second about it. In fact, he was so quick to rule on
objections that he would lean forward to object as the
question was coming in. So it was like having a third
base coach, just watch Ellis. When he leans forward,
you say, “I object.” He’d say, “Sustained.” And on
we’d go. I mean, those of us that were in his court,
when we moved on to felonies we weren’t sure that we’d
know what to do. But Judge Ellis explained everything
to us, I mean, like we were little children. “This is
the way you do this. Don’t do that. No, no.”
The only time I ever saw him at a loss
for words — and Judge, you may remember this. See,
he had a court reporter. Unlike this lady who takes
things down with a Stenograph, she wrote it out in
shorthand. And I mean she was fast. But we had a
case, an assault case from over by Fair Park. And
everybody was kind of jive talking. And this guy
says, “Well you see the man in the court — (talking
fast) — yeah, that’s the guy. And the bro in the
brown suit, can you see that?” And they’re talking so
fast that we take a break — and I mean the court
reporter, who many of you now know, was exhausted.
And Judge Ellis says — and I won’t call her name, but
“Are you getting all of that?” “Oh, she says, “Yes,
but I don’t understand it.” He says, “What don’t you
understand?” She said, “I don’t understand the part
about the mother foxes.” Now, for a judge that had
always explained everything to us, there was this
JUDGE ELLIS: She’s on the Court of
Appeals now, and she still doesn’t know.
MR. BARKLOW: I wasn’t going to give
I will tell one other story, but I’m
going to clear up one thing. You know, it’s kind of
funny that Randy should mention that guy Hannibal
Lecter. When I went to watch that movie, I knew
immediately that I had been involved before with
somebody very similar to that. Bacause that same
person that kept that list, they assigned his case,
when he came out of Rusk, to certify him as sane to
the chief prosecutor on the Eastern Front, which I
happened to be at the time. And I’ll never forget, at
2 o’clock in the morning I was sitting there in the
bed reading these books that Jim Grigson had
recommended I read, and my wife says, “You’re
preparing for this case like your life depends on it.”
And I said, “You know, it’s funny you should mention
that.” Because when I got ready to pick a jury — and
we did it under civil rules — I went up to the
District Attorney’s office, and I went around to see
if Icould find one of the chiefs in the other courts
to help me and pick the jury. And everybody was busy.
Even Blassingame was busy. And they all knew about
this guy and his list. And you know who ended up
picking that jury for me? Volunteered. One of my
really good friends and the fellow I’m sitting next to
up here, John Tolle.
John came down and we tried that case,
and — you know, you wouldn’t think it was serious.
Our judge had taken paper towels and had them scotch
taped over his name in front of the courtroom. They
had removed his pictures form the wall and hidden it
some place. His name tag was taken off the bench.
And he was on — what did you call it Randy, a
sabbitical. And they brought in this judge from
Denton, Judge Scofield. Well, about a day and a half
into the trail, it began to dawn on him something was
And we went out to dinner one night at
the Bluefront, and that’s when I first learned — I
didn’t know much civil. Still don’t. But he said,
“You know, have you ever heard of a judgement NOV?”
That was our hole card. But the jury did the right
thing. I think he’s loose now, or maybe he’s dead.
(Page 136 has been deleted)
MR. BARKLOW: There’s a follow-up on
that story. They had a writ hearing over in East
Texas. John can probably tell this better. He went
over there with Bill Westmoreland, the retired Marine
Colonel. And what did — what did Westmoreland do,
John, when you walked in there?
MAGISTRATE TOLLE: I’ve got to explain
the background a little bit. Let me get up there
where you can hear me. The doctor was in Rusk
hospital, but he had not been — he had been sent down
by the Criminal District Court Number 5 of Dallas.
And under the laws that then existed, the only court
that could have a sanity hearing was the criminal
district court, the same court that sent him down.
But he had a lawyer who had filed a motion under the
civil procedure whereby a person under a civil
commitment can be heard by the county court at law of
And the D.A. down there called us up and
said, “Listen.” He says, “The judge has told us that
he understands the law, that he can’t hear the case,
but these are very prominent lawyers in Rusk and he
doesn’t want to offend them so he’s going to have a
hearing. And he wants somebody from your office to
come down here and make the motion, to challenge this
jurisdiction and move it to Dallas. And he’ll grant
So we go down to Rusk, beautiful
little courthouse in Cherokee County, nice spring day
and get down there. We go in the courtroom. The
judge comes in. Nice old man. He comes in and sits
down. And the D.A. is sitting there with us. I’m not
going to tell you his name, but I’ll always remember
him. And he says, “I’ve got this all wired.” He
says, “the judge is going to grant your motion. Just
get up and break a leg.” So Bill gets up there and
makes the motion. The judge says,”Overruled. Call
your first witness.” And Westmoreland says, “What do
we do now?” And this lawyer says in a voice this
loud, he says, “Well, the old son of a bitch has
double-crossed me again.” Talking about the judge. I
thought we’re all going to end up in jail out there in
Cherokee County. Well, it turns out this judge was as
deaf as you could get. He couldn’t hear a word. so
we had lots —
Then we had to go get a district judge
to — once the judge ordered him released, we had to
get it set aside by a district judge. We couldn’t
find the district judge in that county. No one knew
where he was, except we found he was eating lunch in
the same place he had eaten every day for the last 20
years, and everyone knew where he was. He didn’t want
to get involved. He says, “The judge — the county
judge is a friend of mine. I don’t want to get into
it.” So we had to come up to Dallas. Luckily Judge
Gossett was available so we took care of it that way.
That’s when you guys got in.
MR. BARKLOW: Yes. Well, I’ll close by
saying I remember one time — I look around the group
here — Judge Vance asked me as a young prosecutor to
pick a jury for him in a case. I could not believe
it. I went right home that same day and I told my
wife. “You will not believe this. The first
assistant has asked me to pick a jury for him in a
case.” I said, “I’m just awestruck by this.” Judge
Vance then told me, he said, “Well, now let me tell
you, the lawyer on the other side is blind.” Well,
when we got down there and started the trial we also
found out that the lawyer on the other side was not
only blind but he was also stone deaf. And we ended
up, the charge — how many hours did it take to get
the charge? We had to shout the charge line by line
by line to this lawyer. And then we got a hung jury,
and that’s the last time he ever asked me to pick a
jury for him.
I want to thank you very much for being
here and I wish more young lawyers had a better sense
of humor. Hugh Lucas was one of the greatest guys to
work with. He’d always just smile just like he’s
doing now. Thanks.
JUDGE VANCE: Mr. Weinberg.
MR. WEINBERG: Well, thank you a lot. I
feel like I’m back in the Army. The W’s always get
called last. I don’t know what I’m going to add to
this august storytelling. I do remember Judge Vance
and Ed Mason and I wound up in a hearing one day
involving a search warrant, and Ed was very serious
about his search warrants, and Ed was very serious
about his search warrants when he was prosecuting.
Judge Vance listened to my argument and granted my
motion to suppress, whereupon Ed — who had brought
all the betting slips and the money to court to put in
into evidence — turned around and hurled it all into
the jury box. Judge Vance, he made Ed pick up every
penny that was in the box. And that’s how we —
MR. MASON: Spilled.
MR. WEINBERG: I knew I was going to
tell that on you, on the thing. But not to glean from
this any, but the one thing that I remember is
interesting thing that happened. And this happened
to me before I even got my license. I was a reporter.
I think that’s why I was being able to practice law
very well. But I got my license in a trade that — I
worked for KLIF, and I worked for the Times Herald. I
worked for the old Scotsman, Gordon McClendon. I’m
afraid the judges and prosecutors all were afraid that
I knew where all the bodies were buried so I managed
to get along pretty well with everybody.
but before I became a lawyer I was
covering federal court one day, KLIF, and there was a
hearing before T. Whitfield Davis. And it was one of
these cases involving the Dallas Independant School
District desegregation case. And it had gone up to
the Supreme Court, had come back down, gone up because
T. Whitfield Davis refused to issue the orders that
the Supreme Court seemed to indicate should have been
issued to order the schools to be desegregated.
And the lawyers came in for this hearing
and they filed — and I was sitting in the jury box in
the old post office. And T. Whitfield sat there, came
in and looked around and started to launch into his
tale about George Washington Carver and the peanut and
about industry and the blacks and all. And the lawyer
sat there, and one of them had a pad out. He had a
fistful of sharpened pencils and she was starting to
write on that pad as Judge T. Whitfield Davis had went
on. And the lawyer would write, snap, and the pencil
would break. He’d put one down and pick another one
up very deliberately, snap.
And I got curious, so I leaned forward
toward the counsel table where I looked over him, and
he was writing line after line broken by the broken
pencil point, “The lawyer who loses his temper” —
snap — “loses his case.” that was Thurgood Marshall
who shortly after that wound up being in the Supreme
Court of the United States. I won’t say that that got
me involved in practicing law, but it was interesting.
And there’s so many other stories, but I’m not going
to top any oif the ones that went before me. It’s too
touch an act to follow. Thank you.
JUDGE VANCE: You folks are real
patient. Let me ask you, Ed, your name is on here.
MR. MASON: No, I’m waiving any.
JUDGE VANCE: All right. Sheriff
SHERIFF BOWLES: The hour is late. I’ll
be brief. I look at the heading on this handout by
Albert Pike. Albert spoke very eloquently about what
we’re supposed to be doing in our society. I’ll tell
you as a practical person, that’s happened in Dallas
County in our justice system except I don’t think the
learning process has been as eloquently done as Albert
Pike spoke. We have gone through a learning lesson,
but it’s been something else.
Listening to these recollections of —
I’ve got to talk by a frame of reference, you know,
hearsay only because I’m only 49, and I don’t know all
these things. But I think what they had in mind for
this little program, there’s no history going to be
made tonight, but that history which has gone before
us and lays in the dust is lost when the dinosaurs
move on to extinction, and they’ll be moving on to
extinction. In another 10 or 15 or 20 years we’ll be
doing other things, some of us. But anyway, maybe
what the lady is taking down tonight, 10, 15, 20 years
from tonight will make interesting reading for a few
Some of the things that we’re talking
about still haven’t been clearly defined like — for
example, mentioning Richburg, mentioning Decker, we
left out one of the other old boys in there who could
write a nonwritable charge, old Fritz. Fritz didn’t
let people out either. He’d kind of sweat them out.
If a man didn’t want to tell them about doing this
robbery or doing the murder, he’d just let them sit in
the jail for a week or two or three.
Now, with Charlie Tessmer’s opinion
about the constitution slipping by us to our
detriment, I agree with that and I sympathize with
him. But at the same time I have mixed emotions
because there was a time in our lives — maybe it was
before the Supreme Court made their ruling about the
equal justice clause, the 14th Amendment — we had a
form of a justice, for example with Richburg, that
preceded this business about the family domestic
violence. There was a period, when they permitted it,
that we didn’t have domestic violence because as a
police officer I’m sitting in the dispatcher’s office.
Ms. A calls in, and says Mr. A has been beating the
hell out of her but he’s not doing it right now and
there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll just call
Richburg, or it was nighttime we’d just make it on
a night log and call him the next morning and tell him
we put Mr. A in jail for violating a peace bond. The
first thing Richburg would do is issue a peace bond,
send somebody over to bring the man over tot he court.
And we didn’t have this family violence. Now, it
might not pass muster today; it might sound pretty
bad, but it certainly did work charms when it was
Richburg had another peculiarity about
him. In the accident investigating days we used to
have a real hell to pay if we had a traffic fatality
on our accident districts. One day in the snow this
gentleman tells me as a witness, he says, “I saw this
fellow just lean over to his right in his car. The
car went on down about a block or block and a half
getting a little closer to the curb, jumped the curb,
slid it into the side of this wall until the friction
caused it to stop, and the wheels are turning in the
snow. And I turned his engine off, and he was dead.”
Judge Richburg — this was before we had medical
examiners, and the JPs passed on cause of death. We
had a little hearing on it. I made my case because I
didn’t want to get burned by having a traffic
fatality. And I made my case and told the judge what
all I observed. He says, “J.C., I commend you for
your case. You’ve done a great job. Now, let me
interdict. This man left a widow and a mortgage, and
a double indemnity insurance policy for accidental
death.” I’ll overrule you. Now, that might have cost
our insurance companies a little bit of money, but
that was human compassion. And I’m not sure I’m proud
to see it gone.
Now Decker is something else. I was
told early in my career that if you do somthing real
stupid or real good, do it in private or you’ll be
okay. But don’t ever do anything great good or great
bad and be witnessed or people will talk about you.
So Decker — the Decker hold, I think about the most
magnanimous one I’ve heard, Decker invoked it himself.
He was sitting in his office in the Allen court. They
had the hall that came out of the jail behind him. He
looked up and a couple of his deputies came out, and
they looked much the worse for wear. He didn’t say
anything, just a sole finger (motioning “come here”).
He comes walking over. He says, “What happened?” He
says, “Well, we executed a warrant on this old boy,
and he fought us.” “Bring him down here.” They went
back up to the 7th floor, got the boy out of jail,
brought him downstairs. Decker took him in the office
and said, “My men tell me you fought them.” “Yes,
sir.” “Do you think that was right?” “No, sir.” I
don’t appreciate that.” “No, sir.” Take him back
upstairs and put him in for me. They did. Well, they
didn’t know what to do with their warrant. They just
put it back in the file and waited.
About a week or two went by and finally
went in there and said, “Sheriff, this old boy you had
us put back in jail, what do you want us to do about
him?” “Do you think you need to tell me how to run my
business?” “No, sir.” Just motioned them out. To
shorten a long story — the hour is late — it was
about a year later. Decker called these officers in,
and says, “Go upstairs and bring that boy down.” He
had been in a holdover cell solo. He had been taken
out for an occasional bath. He was fed. He hadn’t
had a haircut. He hadn’t had a change of clothes. He
was sitting in there cooling his heels for all these
months. Decker says, “Now do you think you’re going
to fight my boys?” And he says, “No, sir.” He says,
“I tell you what, I’m going to help you, relieve you
of the opportunity. I’m going to cut you loose now,
but you get out of town. I don’t ever want to see you
again.” And word has it that they took him to the
edge of town and set him out of the road and he
started walking away from town, and nobody has heard
anything out of him since then.
You can take a little bit of that and
say it’s colored this way and a little colored that
way and maybe it didn’t happen quite so, but any part
of that that holds true — and I’m sure that knowing
Decker most of it did hold true — that was what a
hold for Decker was. You just didn’t get away from
him. You couldn’t write a writ on it. And Decker had
that kind of whatever.
charlie, I don’t know. Maybe it is
better to get away from that and maybe it isn’t. I
just abstain from voting and let the world tell me
later what it was about.
But I answered on this little chart that
you were referring to, “If you had it to do all over
again,what would you do?” I answered, and I’ll tell
y’all the same. I’d do it all over again. It’s been
great. Thank you.
JUDGE VANCE: Folks, you’ve been very
patient. We appreciate it. We appreciate all the
speakers being here.
We appreciate Donna Collins. That shows
you how long it’s been since I’ve been a judge because
I thought a reporter wanted to take about — a break
about every hour and 15 minutes, and that’s why I was
checking with you.
We had marked everyone present here with
an ink pen, and I’ve called on everyone. And now I
see that Judge Taite’s here. Do you have some remarks
you want to make?
JUDGE TAITE: I think it’s late enough
that I’ll pass.
JUDGE VANCE: All right. I want to
thank David Scoggins who’s a Past Master of this
lodge, and Mrs. Scoggins for all the work they’ve done
on this. And I’m going to ask him if he has any
remarks he’d like to make regarding this, and when he
concludes those remarks to give the closing prayer if
you will, David.
MR. SCOGGINS: Thank you. We’re done,
and if you’ll stand, we’ll close with a prayer.
The program organizers realize that many more
voices need to be heard for a complete and proper
anecdotal history of the Dallas County Courthouse.
Please accept our apologies for the restraints of
time and the unavailability of many speakers. We hope
subsequent volumes will follow.
Please direct comments, inquiries and copy
purchases to David Scoggins (972) 270-5448, Sam
Rees, Bailiff of the 194th District Court (7th floor)
and Sgt. Harry Johnson of the Sheriff’s Department.
EAST DALLAS LODGE 1200
Office: (214) 871-1112
David Cell: (214) 538-6629