The open line: Also, retired Judge G. Thomas Eisele has died at 94. | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The open line: Also, retired Judge G. Thomas Eisele has died at 94.

Posted By on Sun, Nov 26, 2017 at 5:37 PM

click to enlarge JUDGE G. THOMAS EISELE
  • JUDGE G. THOMAS EISELE
Another open line marked by news of the passing of a public figure. Retired federal District Judge G. Thomas Eisele died today at 94. He served actively on the federal bench in Little Rock for 41 years, cintinuing to take cases after assuming senior status in 1991.

I can't write dispassionately about Judge Eisele. I met my future wife when she was one of his law clerks in 1973. His law clerks became family. They gathered for years for Judge's nogg at Christmas gatherings at his home. He contributed to their career advancement with advice and support.

Tom Eisele landed his judgeship as all do, by politics. He'd been legal counsel to Winthrop Rockefeller in his rise to be a Republican governor of Arkansas and Rockefeller advocated his appointment by President Richard Nixon to fill a vacancy in 1970. Judge Eisele was a Republican, but of the Rockefeller stripe.

He issued important decisions over the years on the environment, the death penalty, racial discrimination and more. Much of this was in the days when federal district courts were often constitutional battlegrounds for issues where justice was in short supply in state courts. He was intelligent, studious and fair. And make no mistake, he was a Republican. It was a tearful day for him the day Richard Nixon resigned, if not necessarily for some of his law clerks, who seemed often to come from the Democratic end of the political spectrum.

He was chief judge of the Eastern District for 16 years from 1975 to 1991. In 1997, as a senior judge, he made headlines for writing an opinion that said Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr might have a conflict of interest in investigating Bill and Hillary Clinton. He noted that Starr had lined up a job at a law school financed by one of the Clintons' pursuers, Richard Mellon Scaife. A Hot Springs native and World War II veteran, he came back to Arkansas after Harvard Law School and spent time in both private practice and as an assistant U.S. attorney.

My wife and another former clerk, Edie Ervin, put together a video tribute to Judge Eisele a few years ago. Fans of his might appreciate this excerpt from it, about his handling of a case over racial profiling of Hispanics.

Tags: ,


Favorite

Comments (15)

Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-15 of 15

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Among the last words from Kenneth Williams: 'Finger Lickin' Good Fried Chicken'

    What's purported to be a final-words essay from condemned prisoner Kenneth Williams was distributed today by Deborah Robinson, a freelance journalist in Arkansas.  He reflects on his execution, his victims, reactions of inmates and big servings of fried chicken, which he says are given to all inmates on execution days.
    • Apr 27, 2017
  • The LR chamber does the public's business. Is it accountable? Blue Hog on the case.

    Matt Campbell, lawyer and Blue Hog Report blogger, has sent a Freedom of Information Act request to Jay Chessir, director of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Mayor Mark Stodola related to the publicity stunt yesterday  built around withdrawing from the mayor's rash pronouncement that the city would seek an Amazon HQ2 project even though the city  didn't meet the company's criteria.
    • Oct 20, 2017
  • Presidential thriller, co-author Bill Clinton, coming to bookstores in 2018

    June 2018 is the expected publication date for a novel collaboration by former President Bill Clinton and crime writer James Patterson.
    • May 9, 2017

Slideshows

  • Arkansas vs Ole Miss at War Memorial stadium in Little Rock, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. After leading for much of the game, Arkansas lost 37-33 when Ole Miss scored the game winning Touchdown with less that 2 minutes left. 
  • Margaret Clark Adventure Park
    New sculptures, preschoolers play area dedicated in Riverfront Park in Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation