William Langdon

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William Henry Langdon
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
In office
January 4, 1927 – August 10, 1939
Preceded by Jeremiah F. Sullivan
Succeeded by Phil S. Gibson
Presiding Judge of the First District, Second Division of the California Court of Appeal
In office
December 19, 1918 – January 3, 1927
Appointed by Governor William Stephens
Preceded by New seat
Succeeded by Joseph Koford[1]
Personal details
Born (1873-09-25)September 25, 1873
Alameda County, California, U.S.
Died September 25, 1939(1939-09-25) (aged 66)
Hillsborough, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Myrtie Conneau McHenry (m. 1908)
Alma mater California State Normal School (honorary BA)

William Henry Langdon (September 25, 1873 – August 10, 1939) was an American banker, lawyer and Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court from January 4, 1927, to August 10, 1939.

Education and early career[edit]

Langdon was born in Alameda County, California, to Irish immigrants William and Annie Langdon.[2] Following the death of Langdon's father in 1875, his mother ran a cattle and wheat ranch.[2] Langdon was educated in the public schools and Hayward High School. He graduated from the California State Normal School to become a teacher, while also studying law in the offices of future Supreme Court Justice John E. Richards. In 1896, Langdon was admitted to the state Bar.[3] Langdon served as vice principal and principal at schools in San Leandro, Fresno, and San Francisco, eventually becoming the city's school superintendent in 1902.[4][5][6]

Legal and judicial career[edit]

In November 1905, city voters elected Langdon as district attorney of San Francisco, and in 1907 re-elected him to a second term.[7] A popular district attorney, Langdon was nominated by the Independence League as its choice for governor in the 1906 elections. Langdon's presence as a strong third party candidacy won over 14 percent of the vote, proving to be a spoiler vote in a tight race between Democrat Theodore A. Bell and Republican James Gillett. In 1907, one year after the aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake, Langdon carried out the successful prosecutions both of Mayor Eugene Schmitz and political machine operator Abe Ruef for bribery and extortion, along with special assistants Francis J. Heney, Hiram Johnson and Matt Sullivan.[8]

After his tenure as district attorney, Langdon entered banking, serving with several banks around Modesto and managing the property his wife had inherited from her first husband.[6]

In 1913, he served as the head of the State Board of Education.[9][10]

In 1915, he reentered law when Governor Hiram Johnson appointed Langdon a judge of the Superior Court of Stanislaus County.[11] In December 1918, Governor William Stephens appointed Langdon presiding judge of the newly minted First District, Second Division, of the California Court of Appeal.[12] In 1920, Langdon was elected to a full term.[13]

In November 1926, Langdon won election to a 12-year term as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, where he served the next nineteen years until his death in 1939.[14][6] Langdon filled the unexpired term of William P. Lawlor, who died in office in July 1926, and whose seat was filled for three months by the appointment of Jeremiah F. Sullivan. From 1930 until 1939, treatise author Bernard E. Witkin served as Langdon's law clerk.[15] In October 1939, the vacancy in Langdon's seat was filled by Governor Culbert Olson with the appointment of Phil S. Gibson.[16]

Among Langdon's notable cases is his 1930 dissent in the denial of a commuted sentence of convicted double murderer Ernest A. Dias.[17] The majority of the court upheld the death penalty, but in dissent Langdon urged the governor to grant executive clemency on the basis of Dias' mental incompetence at the time of the killings.[17]

Personal life[edit]

On April 20, 1908, he married Stanford-trained school teacher, Myrtie Conneau McHenry (December 2, 1878 – August 18, 1959), a wealthy widow from Modesto, California.[7][18] They had one son: Lawton William Langdon (April 15, 1913 – September 23, 1960).[7] His wife, Myrtie, also had two children from her first marriage: Lois Ann ("Annie") Langdon (Moran) (January 28, 1910 – May 11, 1973) and Merl McHenry (December 3, 1903 – January 3, 1994).[6]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Governor Young Names Two Judges". Healdsburg Tribune (56). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 7 January 1927. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b "Mrs. Annie Langdon, Summoned by Death". San Francisco Call (111 (117)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 4 April 1912. p. 9. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  3. ^ "Alumni of San Jose Normal to Meet Here". San Francisco Call (113 (30)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 30 December 1912. p. 4. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  4. ^ "Contests the Election of William Langdon". San Francisco Call (93 (2)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 2 December 1902. p. 9. Retrieved July 22, 2017. election of William H.Langdon to. the office of Superintendent of Schools 
  5. ^ "Election Contest Dismissed". Los Angeles Herald (100). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 6 January 1903. p. 3. Retrieved July 22, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b c d Johnson, J. Edward (1966). "William H. Langdon", History of the Supreme Court Justices of California, 1900-1950. San Francisco, CA: Bancroft-Whitney. pp. 131-36. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Harper, Franklin (1913). Who's who on the Pacific Coast: A Biographical Compilation of Notable Living Contemporaries West of the Rocky Mountains. Harper Publishing. p. 333. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  8. ^ Campbell, Ballard C. (2000). The Human Tradition in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 172. ISBN 0842027351. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Langdon Likely to Head State Education Board". San Francisco Call (114). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 31 August 1913. p. 20. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Personal Mention". Sacramento Union (13). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 13 January 1914. p. 4. Retrieved July 18, 2017. William Langdon of Modesto, president of the state board of education, is registered at the Hotel Sacramento. 
  11. ^ "Judge Langdon Tries First Criminal Case". Press Democrat (189). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 12 August 1915. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Needham Successor to Judge Langdon". Madera Weekly Tribune (41). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 19 December 1918. p. 4. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Official Vote in Primary". Sacramento Union (31). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 1 October 1920. p. 12. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  14. ^ "State Returns". Healdsburg Tribune (4). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 4 November 1926. p. 2. Retrieved July 28, 2017. 
  15. ^ McCarthy, Nancy (February 1996). "The passing of a legal giant". California Bar Journal. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Gibson Chosen Langdon Place". Madera Tribune (91). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 16 August 1939. p. 1. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b "Judge Dissents in Death Verdict". Healdsburg Tribune (299). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 21 October 1930. p. 2. Retrieved July 18, 2017. 
  18. ^ Marr, Peter (2002). Dust On My Shoulders. Xlibris Corporation. p. 101. ISBN 1462844677. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Jeremiah F. Sullivan
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
1927 - 1939
Succeeded by
Phil S. Gibson
Preceded by
New seat
Presiding Judge of the First District, Second Division of the California Court of Appeal
1918 - 1927
Succeeded by
Joseph Koford