Merrill E. Otis

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Merrill E. Otis (July 7, 1884 – December 23, 1944) was a United States federal judge.

Born in Hopkins, Missouri[1] in Nodaway County, Missouri, Otis received an A.B. from the University of Missouri in 1906, an A.M. from the University of Missouri in 1910, and an LL.B. from the University of Missouri in 1910. He was in private practice in St. Joseph, Missouri from 1911 to 1921. He was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in 1914. He was a first assistant city counselor, St. Joseph, Missouri, from 1915 to 1916, and first assistant prosecuting attorney of that city from 1917 to 1918. He was a first assistant state attorney general of Missouri from 1921 to 1923. He chaired the Missouri Public Service Commission from 1923 to 1924. He was then an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General from 1924 to 1925.

On March 23, 1925, Otis received a recess appointment from President Calvin Coolidge to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri vacated by Arba S. Van Valkenburgh. Formally nominated on December 8, 1925, Otis was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 14, 1925, and received his commission the same day. Otis served in that capacity until his death.

Among his notable cases was the judge in the trial of Kansas City boss Tom Pendergast in 1939 that led to Pendergast's fall and the dismantling of the Pendergast machine that dominated Kansas City and Missouri politics and launched the career of Harry S Truman.[2]

Sources[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Arba Seymour Van Valkenburgh
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri
1925–1944
Succeeded by
Albert Alphonso Ridge