Thomas J. Michie

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Thomas Johnson Michie (June 7, 1896 - April 9, 1973) was a Virginia lawyer and federal judge.

Family, education, and early career[edit]

Michie was the son and nephew of the founders of The Michie Company, a lawbook publisher based in Charlottesville, Virginia.[1]

Michie attended the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Law School, receiving an A.B. degree in 1917, an A.M. in 1920, and an LL.B. in 1921. He served in the United States Army from 1917 to 1919.

He worked as an in-house counsel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania from 1921 to 1942, then rejoined the army for the years 1942 to 1946, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps.

Citizen lawyer[edit]

Michie engaged in the private practice of law in Charlottesville, Virginia from 1946 to 1961. The law firm he founded continues in existence.[2] In those same years he lectured at the University of Virginia Law School. He was mayor of Charlottesville from 1957 to 1960. As mayor, Michie counseled the white citizens of Charlottesville to accept desegregation "as good citizens should."[3] Michie was "a strong, strong leader in trying to work out an acceptable pattern of integration."[4]


Michie was nominated by President John F. Kennedy on May 11, 1961, to a seat vacated by Roby C. Thompson, on the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia. The United States Senate confirmed his nomination on June 27, 1961. Michie was the third Charlottesville area lawyer to sit on that court, preceded by Alexander Rives and Armistead Mason Dobie.

In 1963, Judge Michie began the tradition of conducting naturalization ceremonies at Monticello on Independence Day.[5] Michie was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, owner of Monticello.[6]

Along with his colleagues, including Judges Ted Dalton and John Paul, Judge Michie implemented the decision of the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education in Western Virginia. In 1961, Judge Michie ordered the admission of black students to the high school in Lynchburg, Virginia.[7] In 1965, Judge Michie ruled that the school board of Giles County, Virginia violated the Fourteenth Amendment by the dismissal of all of its African-American teachers in the course of integrating its school system.[8]

In connection with the civil rights demonstrations in Danville, Virginia in 1963, Judge Michie chose to abstain from exercising jurisdiction over a petition filed by William Kunstler to obtain a federal court injunction against the criminal prosecution of the demonstrators.[9]

Michie assumed senior status on November 6, 1967. Because of indecision by Virginia Democrats, President Lyndon B. Johnson failed to nominate a successor, and instead the choice of Michie's successor fell to the next president, Richard Nixon, who nominated H. Emory Widener, Jr. on June 19, 1969.


  1. ^ Bryson, William Hamilton (2000). Virginia Law Books: Essays and Bibliographies. DIANE (accessed via Google Books). ISBN 0-87169-239-2. 
  2. ^ "Firm Profile". Michie Hamlett Lowry Rasmussen & Tweel. Archived from the original on September 23, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  3. ^ "The Machinery of Massive Resistance: State Opposition to School Integration in Virginia" (PDF). Timothy Jarrett. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Harry Michael, Modern Virginia Interviews". Virginia Center for Digital History. Retrieved February 13, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello". America's Library. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello". Library of Congress. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Notable Civil Rights Events". TilJusticeRolls. Archived from the original on January 7, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Time Magazine, Friday, Jun. 18, 1965". Time. June 18, 1965. Retrieved February 10, 2008. 
  9. ^ Chase v. McCain, 220 F. Supp. 407 (W.D. Va. 1963), aff'd, Baines v. City of Danville, Va., 357 F.2d 756 (4th Cir. 1966).

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Roby C. Thompson
Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
Succeeded by
seat abolished