William L. Hungate

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William L. Hungate
William Hungate.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
In office
September 26, 1979 – October 1, 1991
Appointed by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by new seat authorized by 92 Stat.1629
Succeeded by Carol E. Jackson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 9th district
In office
November 3, 1964 – January 3, 1977
Preceded by Clarence Cannon
Succeeded by Harold Volkmer
Personal details
Born (1922-12-14)December 14, 1922
Benton, Illinois, U.S.
Died June 22, 2007(2007-06-22) (aged 84)
Chesterfield, Missouri, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dorothy Hungate

William Leonard Hungate (December 14, 1922 – June 22, 2007) was a United States Representative from Missouri from November 3, 1964 (special election upon the death of Congressman Clarence Cannon), to January 3, 1977, representing the Ninth Congressional District. Following his retirement from the U.S. House of Representatives, Hungate was appointed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, where he served until his retirement in 1992.

Early years and education[edit]

Hungate was born in Benton, Illinois, on December 14, 1922, and graduated from Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green, Missouri, in 1940. He attended the University of Michigan as well as the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, in 1943 (B.A.) and received his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1948 (LL.B.).[1] In 1969, he was awarded a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Harvard Law School.

World War II military service[edit]

Hungate served in the United States Army from 1943 to 1946, where he received the Combat Infantryman Badge, 3 Battle stars, and Bronze Star. He served in England, France and Germany throughout World War II.[1]

Legal career and politics[edit]

Hungate was admitted to the Missouri bar in 1948 and the Illinois Bar in 1949 and immediately entered private law practice in Troy (Lincoln County), Missouri. He was then elected prosecuting attorney of Lincoln County, Missouri, serving from 1951 to 1956. From 1958 to 1964, he served as a Missouri Special Assistant Attorney General. On November 3, 1964, he was elected as a Democrat simultaneously to the Eighty-eighth and to the Eighty-ninth Congress by special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of United States Representative Clarence Cannon. He was reelected to the five succeeding Congresses, serving until January 3, 1977.[1]

Hungate was a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was chosen to propose the second of the three articles of impeachment of President Richard M. Nixon. He was the Chair of the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Criminal Justice. The "Hungate Subcommittee," as it became known, investigated the presidential pardon of Nixon by Nixon's successor, Gerald R. Ford, in 1974. On September 24, 1974, Ford appeared before the subcommittee, the only occasion on which a sitting President has given sworn testimony before Congress.[2]

Hungate was not a candidate for reelection to the Ninety-fifth Congress in 1976, and he was succeeded by fellow Democrat Harold L. Volkmer.[1]

Appointment as Federal District Judge[edit]

Hungate was appointed as Judge to the United States District Court by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. As District Judge, Hungate presided over the St. Louis public school desegregation case, and was instrumental in designing a voluntary desegregation plan for the St. Louis City and County School Districts.[3]

One of the most significant findings by Hungate in the St. Louis desegregation case was, with respect to school segregation in St. Louis City and County, the "State of Missouri, which prior to 1954 mandated school segregation, never took any effective steps to dismantle the dual system it had compelled by constitution, statutory law, practice and policy." Liddell et al. v. Bd. of Ed. of City of St. Louis, et al., 491 F.Supp. 351, 357, (E.D. Mo. 1980) aff'd, 667 F.2d 643 (8th Cir.), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1081 (1981). He concluded that "the State defendants stand before the Court as primary constitutional wrongdoers who have abdicated their remedial duty. Their efforts to pass the buck among themselves and other state instrumentalities must be rejected." Id. at 359.[4][5]


Hungate retired from the Court in 1992. During his retirement, he was the author of It Wasn't Funny at the Time, a collection of photographs and anecdotes from his college years, World War II, life in congress and during his judgeship, published in 1994; and Glimpses of Politics (Red, White & Blue Jokes), published in 1996.[6]


Hungate was hospitalized on June 6, 2007, at St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield for a hematoma that was likely caused by a fall at his home. He died on June 22, 2007, while in intensive care at St. Luke's Hospital. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy; a son, David (who was the original bass player for the rock band Toto); a daughter, Katie Wood; and four grandchildren.[7]


External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Clarence Cannon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 9th congressional district

Succeeded by
Harold Volkmer
Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat authorized by 92 Stat.1629
Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
Succeeded by
Carol E. Jackson