Richard Harvey Chambers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Richard Harvey Chambers (November 7, 1906 – October 21, 1994) was a United States federal judge.

Biography[edit]

Chambers was born to William Rock and Lida Chambers in Danville, Illinois. Three months later, the family moved to Solomonville, Arizona, where his father worked as clerk of the district court of Graham County.[1] In 1924, Chambers graduated as class president from Safford High School, Safford, Arizona[2] and then earned an A.B. in economics from the University of Arizona in 1929, where he served as editor-in-chief of the school newspaper.[3] Chambers received an LL.B. from Stanford University in 1932. He practiced law in Tucson, Arizona, 1932–1942 and 1945–1954, and served as a United States Army Air Corps Major from 1942 to 1945.

On April 6, 1954, Chambers was nominated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to serve as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[4] Chambers served as chief judge from 1959 to 1976, the longest-serving chief judge in the history of the Ninth Circuit.[5] When Chambers assumed senior status on December 31, 1976, he was the "longest-tenured chief of any circuit, ever."[6] The United States Court of Appeals Building in Pasadena, California, bears his name; but four other historic courthouses in the Ninth Circuit—in San Francisco, Portland, Tacoma, and San Diego—also owe "their survival and resurrection" to Chambers' "vision and tenacity." [7] Chambers died on October 21, 1994.

Personality[edit]

Chambers "had something of a coarse exterior" as well as a "slow, low, and deliberate speaking style" that he himself described as "halting speech."[8] The gruff appearance only lightly concealed "a mischievous sense of humor."[9] For instance, Chambers frequently wrote memoranda to his colleagues under the pseudonym, "Tom Chambers," the name of his palomino horse.[10]

Chambers dedicated himself to writing judicial prose that was succinct, folksy, even quirky, believing that in writing accessible decisions, his court could more effectively create legal precedent, provide popular accountability, and produce a usable historical record.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Caleb Langston, "Built to Last: Judge Richard H. Chambers and His Pasadena Courthouse," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 4.
  2. ^ Chambers retained an affection for Safford and later contributed to preserving the history of the town. Langston, 8.
  3. ^ Langston, 4.
  4. ^ The new seat had been created by 68 Stat. 871. Chambers was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 27, 1954, and received his commission on April 30, 1954.
  5. ^ Bradley B. Williams, "Introduction," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 1.
  6. ^ Langston, 5.
  7. ^ Langston, 13; *Lee M. A. Simpson, "Preserving the Ninth Circuit," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 59. Although Chambers loved old buildings and believed newer buildings did not help instill the proper awe of the bench, he did not "engage in preservation out of some romantic notional that all old buildings have intrinsic value." Chambers "chose his battles carefully." (60)
  8. ^ Langston, 24-25; Rebekah Heiser Hanley, "Matters of Style, Matters of Opinion: The Voice and Legacy of Richard Chambers, Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 95.
  9. ^ Langston, 21.
  10. ^ Langston, 24-25.
  11. ^ Hanley, 91, 94-95, 122.

Further reading[edit]

  • Richard Harvey Chambers at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  • Caleb Langston, "Built to Last: Judge Richard H. Chambers and His Pasadena Courthouse," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 3-25.
  • Michael Eric Siegel, "Riding Tall in a Small Saddle: The Chief Judgeship of Richard H. Chambers, Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 27-53.
  • Cynthia Holcomb Hall, "A Former Law Clerk Remembers," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 55-57.
  • Lee M. A. Simpson, "Preserving the Ninth Circuit," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 59-88.
  • Alfred T. Goodwin, "Judge Chambers Confers Sainthood: A Reminiscence," Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 89-90.
  • Rebekah Heiser Hanley, "Matters of Style, Matters of Opinion: The Voice and Legacy of Richard Chambers, Western Legal History, 19 (2006), 91-122.