Peirson Mitchell Hall

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Peirson Mitchell Hall (July 31, 1894 – December 8, 1979), known as Peirson M. Hall, was a member of the Los Angeles City Council from 1925 to 1929, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California from 1933 to 1937, a judge in the Los Angeles Superior Court from 1939 to 1940, head of the U.S. Selective Service System for Los Angeles in 1941 and a federal District Court judge from 1942 to 1979. He was considered the foremost authority of aviation law among the nation's 500 federal judges.[1]

Hall in 1929


Hall was born in Armour, South Dakota, on July 31, 1894, and attended two years of high school in Tecumseh, Nebraska. He lived in a Nebraska orphanage for a time before moving to Los Angeles to study law. He took a one-year course at Polytechnic High School (Los Angeles), then attended the University of Southern California Law School at night in 1912–16. He began his legal practice in 1916.[1]

Hall was married five times. He and his first wife were divorced in 1929, and Hall sued journalist Fred H. Girnau for libel when Girnau printed a two-column article asserting that testimony at the divorce proceedings showed that Hall "used the pretty face of his wife for a punching bag." Hall's attorney declared the statement untrue and Mrs. Hall said the report was false and malicious.[2]

The longest marriage was to Gertrude May Engel, beginning in 1930. They had two daughters, Mary and Suzanne, and were divorced in 1956 after court battles that lasted several years. She died in 1964. His fourth wife was Kathryn Kyle Black, whom he married in Kansas City, Kansas, in November 1956. She died in 1970. Next he married Mari Bahn, who died in February 1973.[1][3][4][5][6]

Hall, who had been a Mason and an Elk,[1] died on December 8, 1979.[7]

City Council[edit]

See also List of Los Angeles municipal election returns, 1925, 1927 and 1929

Hall was elected to the Los Angeles City Council to represent District 11 in 1925 and was reelected in 1927. The 11th District originally encompassed an area south of Downtown, bounded on the north by Sixth Street, on the south by Pico Boulevard, on the west by Hoover Avenue and on the east approximately by San Pedro Street].[8][9]

He, along with Clifford W. Henderson and Henry G. Bakes, "persuaded the city to lease a 640-acre bean and barley patch then known as Mines Field," which became the Los Angeles International Airport.[10]

Legal career[edit]

In 1929 Hall ran for election as Los Angeles city attorney but lost to Erwin P. Werner in the June final, 152,566 to 82,444. He was in private practice from 1929 to 1934, when he was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, a post he fulfilled until 1937.

He was a Superior Court judge between 1939 and 1942, then was appointed U.S. District Court judge for the Southern District effective July 3, 1942. He was chief judge from 1959 to 1964. He was reassigned to the Central District of California in 1966 and assumed senior status in 1968.[7] He was head of the Selective Service System for Southern California in 1941.[1]

Some of the cases he dealt with in his court included:

  • Trial of an army officer charged with stealing $106,000 in Japanese gold missing since the surrender of Formosa (Taiwan) to U.S. forces at the end of World War II.[11]
  • Jailing of 10 people for refusal to answer questions in a grand jury proceeding about Los Angeles Communist leaders and organizations.[12][13]
  • Freeing of war crimes suspect Andrija Artukovic, former interior minister in Croatia, when Hall ruled that no extradition treaty existed between the United States and Yugoslavia, which had sought Artukovic for trial.[14]


Further reading[edit]

Preceded by
Los Angeles City Council
11th District

Succeeded by
J. C. Barthel
Legal offices
Preceded by
George Cosgrave
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California
Succeeded by
seat abolished
Preceded by
Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California
Succeeded by
David W. Williams