James E. Bolin

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James Edwin Bolin, Sr.
Judge James E. Bolin of Louisiana.jpg
Louisiana State Representative
for Webster Parish
In office
1940–1944
Preceded by Drayton R. Boucher
Succeeded by C.W. Thompson
District Attorney, 26th Judicial District of Louisiana
In office
December 14, 1948 – October 1, 1952
Preceded by Arthur M. Wallace
Succeeded by Louis H. Padgett, Jr.
Judge, 26th Judicial District Court of Louisiana
In office
October 1, 1952 – 1960
Preceded by J. Frank McInnis
Succeeded by

Two judgeships:
O. E. Price

Enos C. McClendon, Jr.
Judge, Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal
In office
1960–1978
Preceded by New position
Chief Judge, Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal
In office
April 25, 1975 – December 31, 1978
Preceded by H. Welborn Ayres
Personal details
Born (1914-08-26)August 26, 1914
Doyline, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
Died March 25, 2002(2002-03-25) (aged 87)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary Eloise Martin Bolin (1913-2007; married, 1937-his death)
Children

James Bolin, Jr.
Bruce M. Bolin
Beth Bolin Falk

Becky Bolin Maupin
Residence Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana
Alma mater

Minden High School
Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University Law Center
Occupation Attorney

(1) Bolin and his son, Bruce M. Bolin, held the positions of Louisiana state representative and judge of the 26th Judicial Court – thirty-eight years apart.

(2) Bolin, who obtained a Bronze Star in the United States Army, was among several Louisiana state legislators who left their posts for military duty during World War II.

James Edwin Bolin, Sr. (August 26, 1914 – March 25, 2002), was an American jurist and politician who served as a judge of the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal. He was a Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from Minden, the seat of government of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana.

Background[edit]

Bolin was one of ten children, most of whom attended college, born to Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Bolin in the village of Doyline in south Webster Parish. E. H. Bolin, an insurance agent, was a member of the Webster Parish School Board and the subject of a biographical sketch in North Louisiana History.[1] In 1933, a dispute developed over Bolin's non-payment of property taxes for the four preceding years. The Governor Oscar K. Allen cancelled his commission of office for a time,[2] and Bolin had difficulty getting reinstated.[3] In 1936, E. H. Bolin ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana state representative but was defeated by Drayton Boucher of Springhill.[4] E. H. Bolin pledged if elected representative: "Equal Rights to All; Special Privileges for None." Four years later, James Bolin, was elected to the seat which had eluded his father.

James Bolin attended school in Doyline and later transferred to Minden, at which he graduated as the class president in 1931 from Minden High School. His name was misspelled "Bolen" on the graduation program.[5]

Bolin then procured his undergraduate degree in 1935 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He obtained his legal degree from the LSU Law Center in 1937 and maintained a private practice in Minden from 1937 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1952. For a time in the late 1980s, Bolin practiced law in Minden —estates, divorces, and automobile accident claims, primarily—with his younger son, Bruce M. Bolin, who later moved to Bossier City.[6]

In 1937, Bolin wed his Minden High School classmate, the former Mary Eloise Martin (October 30, 1913 – September 20, 2007).She was a 1935 graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and a former high school English teacher. The Bolins had two daughters, Beth Bolin Falk and Becky Bolin Maupin, and another lawyer son, James E. Bolin, Jr. (born September 10, 1941) of Shreveport.[7]

Legislator and soldier[edit]

Bolin served in the state House during the administration of Governor Sam Houston Jones, who in 1940 proposed the creation of a state crime commission, which consisted of the governor, his executive counsel, and the state attorney general. With a $1 million appropriation, the agency was commissioned to pursue those who had stolen state funds or property. Jones suggested that up to $4 million might be recovered. Bolin sought to reduce the appropriation to $250,000. State Senator Lloyd Hendrick of Shreveport wanted to establish a legislative commission, rather than an executive body. Nevertheless, the measure easily passed both houses and was signed into law. A few lawmakers loyal to then former Governor Earl Kemp Long charged that the commission gave too much power to the governor and was "tyrannical" in nature. They successfully sued, and the Louisiana Supreme Court declared the Jones commission unconstitutional.[8]

Bolin was elected state representative when the one-term incumbent, Drayton Boucher of Springhill, ran successfully for the Louisiana State Senate. In the legislative runoff election, Bolin defeated former representative and Minden mayor J. Frank Colbert, 3,161 (57.3 percent) to 2,358 (42.7 percent).[9] Eliminated in the primary election were Dewey E. Moore (1899-1977), then of Sarepta and later Springhill, John Edmond Perryman (1874-1962) of Dubberly and Guy Wilburn Harkness (1906-1991) of Sibley, an educator[10] who later taught eighth grade mathematics when the former Lowe Junior High School opened in Minden in 1960.

From 1942 to 1946, while still a state representative for two years remaining in his term, Bolin reported for training in rifles and heavy weapons to Fort Benning, Georgia.[11] He served in the European Theater of Operations of World War II, including England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Germany. He received the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the French Croix de Guerre, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the European Theater of Operations Ribbon, with four battle stars.[12] After the war, he served with the prosecution team at the historic war crime trials at Nuremberg, Germany.[13][14]

Bolin while overseas in war did not seek reelection to the Louisiana House and was succeeded by C. W. Thompson of Doyline, then the president of the Webster Parish School Board. Thompson ran unopposed in 1944 for Bolin's seat. Bolin practiced law in Minden prior to his military service and from 1946 to 1948 in Springhill in northern Webster Parish.[12]

Judicial career[edit]

From December 14, 1948, to October 1, 1952, Bolin served as the district attorney for Webster and Bossier parishes.[15] In the DA race, Bolin defeated Bossier Parish attorney and later state representative Ford E. Stinson, 6,432 to 5,618. His margin of victory came from his own Webster Parish.[16] Bolin was known for the prosecution of gambling and racketeering.[17] In September 1952, Bolin won a special election to the 26th Judicial District Court bench. He was reelected without opposition in 1954.[18] In 1954, Bolin sentenced Minden Mayor John T. David to 120 days on the Webster Parish Penal Farm for two bootlegging misdemeanors. The convictions were upheld by the Louisiana Supreme Court.[19]

In 1956, Bolin defeated State Representative E. D. Gleason of Webster Parish, 2,503 to 912, for a seat at the proposed state constitutional convention. Because voters statewide rejected the calling of the convention, the election was moot.[20]

Bolin left the district judgeship in 1960, when he was subsequently elected to a new seat on the 20-parish Second Circuit Court of Appeal, where he served until his retirement in 1978.[14][18]

On May 12, 1964, Judge Bolin was invited to Baton Rouge to administer the oath of office to incoming Governor John McKeithen; C. H. "Sammy" Downs, a former state senator from Rapides Parish and an aide and advisor to McKeithen, was the master of ceremonies for the festivities.[21]

His younger son, Bruce Bolin, served in the same Louisiana House seat which Bolin had previously held. Bruce Bolin was a representative from 1978, when he won a special election to succeed the retiring R. Harmon Drew, Sr., until 1990, when he resigned from the House to begin his tenure in the same district court judgeship previously held by his father.

Judge Bolin opposed antiwar demonstrators at the height of the Vietnam War. In an address before a civic group entitled "The Spirit of Rebellion", the judge decried the breakdown in law and order across the nation stemming in part from discontent over the controversial war.[22] Bolin's social commentary was echoed by two other state judges, Fred W. Jones, Jr. of Ruston[23] and George W. Hardy, Jr., a former mayor of Shreveport. In a 1964 speech before the Shreveport Bar Association, Hardy similarly warned against "extremist" individuals and groups who would thwart the processes of law and endanger the well-being of the nation.[24]

Bolin tried to educate constituents on the challenges facing the justice system. "Justice is everyone's business. Courts aren't here just for lawyers and judges - they are for all citizens. ... Our judicial branch is not as good as it could be; although it is constantly working to improve. Without sacrificing basic civil or criminal rights of the people, we must streamline our courts to keep current and to avoid a virtual bureaucracy in our court system," he told a civic gathering in 1977.[25]

From April 1975 until his retirement in 1978, Bolin was the chief judge of the appeals court, having succeeded H. Welborn Ayres, who retired.[18]

Judge Bolin was seriously injured in a two-vehicle accident on Louisiana Highway 1 north of Shreveport on Christmas Day, 1978, just a week before his retirement from the circuit court. The accident occurred nine days after the election of his son, Bruce, to the Louisiana House of Representatives.[26]

Honors[edit]

In 1975, U.S. Representative Joe Waggonner of Plain Dealing in Bossier Parish, urged then U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., to nominate Judge Bolin to the United States Supreme Court. Waggonner said that his fellow Louisianan exhibited the "highest degree of judicial excellence." Ford, however, tapped Chicago jurist John Paul Stevens for the seat vacated by William O. Douglas.[27]

In 1986, Bolin was honored by the Louisiana House for his service more than four decades earlier. One of his House colleagues, Bill Dodd, a former lieutenant governor and state superintendent of education, praised the judge, accordingly:

[Judge Bolin as a legislator] sponsored and supported legislation for civil service, public bid laws, voting machines, creation of a wildlife and fisheries department, an independent forestry service, dedication of severance taxes to public schools, and the de-politicalization of the LSU Board of Supervisors.[28]

Bolin died in 2002 at the age of eighty-seven in an assisted living facility in Shreveport. He is honored through the naming of Bolin Hall at the Louisiana Army National Guard installation at Camp Minden, formerly part of the Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Ardis Cawthon, Louisiana Tech University, "E. H. Bolin: School Man of Webster Parish", North Louisiana History, Vol. 15 (No. 1), 1984, pp. 41-48; the article was published only a few months before Professor Cawthon's death.
  2. ^ Minden Herald, May 4, 1934, p. 9
  3. ^ "Bolin Reversed in School Board Case Appeal; Reversal Comes with Decision of Court of Appeal on Long Fought Controversy over School Board Seat", Minden Signal-Tribune and Springhill Journal, January 6, 1934, p. 1
  4. ^ Minden Signal-Tribune and Springhill Journal, January 28, 1936, p. 2
  5. ^ Minden High School, 1931 yearbook, Minden, Louisiana
  6. ^ Minden Press-Herald, December 30, 1986, p. 4
  7. ^ "James E. Bolin Jr.". pview.findlaw.com. Retrieved June 11, 2015. 
  8. ^ Jerry Purvis Sanson (1999). Louisiana During World War II: Politics and Society, 1939-1945. Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. pp. 60–62. ISBN 0-8071-2308-0. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  9. ^ Minden Herald, February 23, 1940, p. 1
  10. ^ Minden Herald, January 19, 1940, p, 1
  11. ^ "James E. Bolin Will Report for Active Army Duty", Minden Herald, February 13, 1942, p. 1
  12. ^ a b "James E. Bolin Announces for District Attorney", Minden Herald, July 16, 1948, p. 1
  13. ^ "House Concurrent Resolution No. 211 of the 2005 Regular Session by Representatives Billy Montgomery, Jean Doerge, and Senator Robert Adley". legis.state.la.us. Retrieved July 11, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b "In Memoriam: James Bolin". lasc.org. Retrieved July 11, 2010. 
  15. ^ Respect for the Past: Webster Parish Centennial, 1971, Webster Parish School Board, pages unnumbered
  16. ^ "J. E. Bolin Named District Attorney for 26th District: Former Minden Resident Defeats Bossier Native in Primary on Tuesday", Minden Herald, September 3, 1948, p.1
  17. ^ Minden Press, December 1, 1958
  18. ^ a b c "Judge J. E. Bolin is sworn in today as Chief Judge of Court of Appeal", Minden Press-Herald, April 25, 1975, p. 1
  19. ^ Minden Herald, February 24, 1955, p. 1
  20. ^ Minden Herald, November 8, 1956, p. 1
  21. ^ "Inauguration Plans Revealed: McKeithen will take office May 12", Judge Edmund M. Reggie Newspaper clipping, April 9, 1964
  22. ^ "Bolin Civitan Guest", Minden Press-Herald, September 17, 1969, p. 1
  23. ^ "Fred Jones is speaker at Jaycee proceedings", Minden Press-Herald, March 14, 1975, p. 1
  24. ^ "Appeal court judge, former mayor dies". Shreveport Journal. July 17, 1967. Retrieved February 1, 2015. 
  25. ^ "Bolin: 'Justice is everyone's business'", Minden Press-Herald, May 6, 1977, p. 1
  26. ^ "Bolin remains in hospital following wreck Monday", Minden Press-Herald, December 27, 1978, p. 1.
  27. ^ Minden Press-Herald, November 18, 1975, p. 1
  28. ^ "Lawmakers honor Bolin", Minden Press-Herald, October 19, 1986, p. 1
  29. ^ "Louisiana Guard honors memory of leader, WWII veteran". dvidshub.net. Retrieved May 29, 2013. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Drayton R. Boucher
Louisiana State Representative for Webster Parish
1940–1944
Succeeded by
C.W. Thompson
Preceded by
Arthur M. Wallace
District Attorney for Bossier and Webster parishes, Louisiana
1948–1952
Succeeded by
Louis H. Padgett, Jr.
Preceded by
J. Frank McInnis
Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court Judge for Bossier and Webster parishes
1952–1960
Succeeded by
Two judgeships:

O. E. Price
Enos McClendon