Bolitha James Laws

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Laws (center, next to President Truman) administrating an oath in the Oval Office (1951)

Bolitha James Laws (August 22, 1891 – November 1, 1958) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Washington, D.C., Laws received an LL.B. from Georgetown University Law School in 1913, and an LL.M. from the same institution in 1914. He was an assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia from 1914 to 1920. He was in private practice in New York City from 1920 to 1921, and was a litigation counsel and assistant general counsel to the United States Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation from 1921 to 1922. He then returned to private practice in Washington, D.C., from 1922 to 1938.

On June 10, 1938, Laws was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to a new seat on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, created by 52 Stat. 584. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 16, 1938, and received his commission on June 24, 1938. On January 19, 1945, Roosevelt nominated Laws for elevation to Chief Justice of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the seat having been vacated by Edward C. Eicher. Laws was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 22, 1945, and received his commission on February 23, 1945. In the fall of 1945 he was the judge in the trial of Ezra Pound. Laws served in that capacity until September 1, 1948, when the court was reorganized, eliminating the chief justice position. Laws was reassigned by operation of law to a regular judgeship on the court, but served thereafter as chief judge of the court until his death, in 1958.

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