Charles Sterling Hutcheson

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Charles Sterling Hutcheson
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
In office
September 1, 1959 – October 24, 1969
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
In office
1948–1959
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byAlbert Vickers Bryan
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
In office
February 10, 1944 – September 1, 1959
Appointed byFranklin D. Roosevelt
Preceded byLuther B. Way
Succeeded byOren Ritter Lewis
Personal details
Born
Charles Sterling Hutcheson

(1894-07-23)July 23, 1894
Mecklenburg County, Virginia
DiedOctober 24, 1969(1969-10-24) (aged 75)
EducationUniversity of Virginia
College of William & Mary

Charles Sterling Hutcheson (July 23, 1894 – October 24, 1969) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, to Mary Hutcheson Young and her lawyer husband, Mecklenberg county clerk Herbert Farrar Hutcheson, C. Sterling Hutcheson would have six brothers and a sister. His family had been large landowners and influential in Mecklenburg County for more than a century. His grandfather, Joseph C. Hutcheson (1816-1890) was one of the county's largest landowners and a justice of the peace, although he lost his one attempt at election to the Virginia House of Delegates (in 1855).[2] Young Sterling was named for a great-uncle, Col. Charles Sterling Hutcheson (judge)(1804-1881), a plantation owner who served one term as a Whig in the Virginia House of Delegates, then became the county's circuit judge and raised a regiment for the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, and after receiving a pardon from President Andrew Johnson, remained in Mecklenburg county to care for a disabled son (also C.S. Hutcheson,[3] rather than move to Texas to join his son Joseph Chappell Hutcheson, who survived his Confederate service and became a U.S. Congressman and leading citizen in Houston, although his eldest son, lawyer and CSA Captain John William Hutcheson, died of wounds received defending Richmond at the Battle of Cold Harbor. His next-eldest brother, John Young Hutcheson (1896-1973) served as the deputy clerk under their father, but their brother Nathaniel Goode Hutcheson succeeded their father as the county clerk, and another brother, Joseph Collier Hutcheson would represent the county in the Virginia Senate (1906-1972) during Massive Resistance. Their brother Herbert Farrar Hutcheson (1899-1980) would become an executive with Imperial Tobacco Company and begin writing the family's history, which C. Sterling Hutcheson would help finish after his retirement. Meanwhile, C. Sterling Hutcheson attended the University of Virginia and the College of William & Mary. He served as a private in the United States Army from 1918 to 1919.[4]

Early career[edit]

After admission to the Virginia bar, Hutcheson entered private practice in Boydton, Virginia from 1920 to 1944. During the Great Depression, he served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1933 to 1944.[5]

Federal judicial service[edit]

Hutcheson was nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 19, 1944, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia vacated by deceased Judge Luther B. Way. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 8, 1944, and received his commission on February 10, 1944. He served as Chief Judge from 1948 to 1959. He assumed senior status on September 1, 1959. His service terminated on October 24, 1969, due to his death.[5]

Racial discrimination cases[edit]

Although Judge Hutcheson had a docket of many varieties of cases, his rulings in racial discrimination cases became the most controversial, including with his neighbors in southside Virginia. Shortly before Judge Way's final illness, he had ruled against a black fireman working for the Norfolk Southern Railroad, and who had sued the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen for excluding blacks from their union, but the Fourth Circuit remanded the case for further consideration of jurisdictional questions and the federal Railway Labor Act. Judge Hutcheson soon granted summary judgement for the plaintiff fireman, which the appellate court affirmed.[6] In 1945, Judge Hutcheson ruled that the Newport News School Board had not complied with an order forbidding discrimination against black teachers issued by Judge Way.[7]

In 1948, three years after Judge Pollard required Richmond to equalize its teachers' pay, Judge Hutcheson handled four significant racial discrimination cases. In one, he required Surry County to provide equal buildings and equipment for its black schools, which the Richmond Times Dispatch realized could foretell the ending of dual school systems based on race.[8] Judge Hutcheson also decided a schoolteacher pay discrimination case against the school board of Chesterfield County. He also decided cases brought by black parents against the King George County and Gloucester County school boards,[9] which failed to meet the "separate but equal" standard set forth in Plessy v. Ferguson, and two years later found the board and superintendent guilty of contempt of court for failing to comply with his orders and imposed $250 individual fines, which future Justice Thurgood Marshall believed encouraging.[10]

Stanley Plan decision[edit]

Beginning in 1955, Hutcheson served on a 3-judge panel with new district judge Walter E. Hoffman and senior 4th Circuit judge Morris Ames Soper (previously a state and federal trial judge in Baltimore, Maryland). That three judge panel issued a decision on January 19, 1959, declaring parts of the Stanley Plan (enacted as part of Massive Resistance to the desegregation mandate in Brown v. Board of Education) violated the United States Constitution; and the Virginia Supreme Court on the same day (Robert E. Lee's birthday, a holiday in Virginia) issued a decision declaring other aspects of the Stanley Plan unconstitutional under the Virginia Constitution. However, some local leaders (including his state senator brother) continued to inflame controversy for several years, which Hutcheson avoided by retiring.[11]

Papers[edit]

In 1983, Hutcheson's widow donated his papers to the Library of Virginia, which also has the papers of his state senator brother, Joseph Collier Hutcheson .[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Charles Sterling Hutcheson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  2. ^ findagrave no. 36539449
  3. ^ findagrave.com no.36547013
  4. ^ Peters, John O., 1936- (2013). From Marshall to Moussaoui : Federal Justice in the Eastern District of Virginia. Petersburg, Virginia: Dietz. pp. 118, 119. ISBN 978-0-87517-143-2. OCLC 853073414.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) p. 138
  5. ^ a b Charles Sterling Hutcheson at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  6. ^ Peters p. 139 citing Tunstall v Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen & Enginemen, 140 F.2d 35 (4th Cir. 1944), 148 F.2d 403 (4th Cir. 1947) and Brotherhood of Locomiotive Firemen & Enginemen v Tunstall, 163 F.2d 289 (4th Cir. 1947)
  7. ^ Peters p. 131 citing Roles v School Board of the City of Newport News, 61 F.Supp 395 (E.D. Va 1945)
  8. ^ Peters p. 140 citing only Richmond Times Dispatch April 5, 1948
  9. ^ Margaret Edds, We Face the Dawn (2019) pp. 4-5, 9-12 citing among newspaper articles Ashley v. School Board of Gloucester County, 82 F.Supp 167 (E.D. Va. 1948)
  10. ^ Peters p. 142 citing Freeman v County School Board of Chesterfield County, 82 F.Supp 167 (E.D.Va. 1948), Richmond Times Dispatch May 5, 1949, New York Times January 9, 1949 and January 23, 1949
  11. ^ Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 49, p. 24
  12. ^ "A Guide to the C. Sterling Hutcheson Papers, 1925-1969 Hutcheson, C. Sterling, Papers, 1925-1969 32432". ead.lib.virginia.edu.


Legal offices
Preceded by
Paul W. Kear
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia
1933–1944
Succeeded by
Henry Holt
Preceded by
Luther B. Way
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
1944–1959
Succeeded by
Oren Ritter Lewis
Preceded by
Office established
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
1948–1959
Succeeded by
Albert Vickers Bryan