Harmon Drew, Jr.
|Richard Harmon Drew, Jr.|
|Preceded by||Marshall R. Pearce (interim)|
|Succeeded by||R. Harmon Drew, Sr.|
26th Judicial District Court Judge
March 20, 1988 – 1998
|Preceded by||Cecil C. Lowe|
|Succeeded by||John M. Robinson|
Judge of the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit
1998 – Incumbent
|Born|| November 11, 1946|
Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Spouse(s)||Jean Talley Drew|
|Relations|| R. Harmon Drew, Sr. (father)|
Harmon Caldwell Drew (grandfather)
|Children|| Richard Harmon Drew, III|
Georgia Drew Boswell
|Occupation||Attorney, Judge, Musician|
(2) Drew is descended from among the first inhabitants of Webster Parish. Most of his male family members have served as judges.
(3) Drew and his wife Jean operate as a legal team in his appellate court office in Shreveport.
Richard Harmon Drew, Jr., known as Harmon Drew, Jr. (born November 11, 1946), is a Louisiana fifth-generation judge, legal lecturer, and rhythm-and-blues musician. He is n his third ten-year term on the Louisiana Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit, based in Shreveport.
Drew is a native of Minden in Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, where he and his wife, the former Jean Talley, reside in the Drew ancestral home at 1002 Broadway Street. The home was built by the Minden businessman and later city council member William L. Life (1887–1972) and was acquired about 1915 by Drew's paternal grandfather]. Drew's father, Richard Harmon Drew, Sr., grandfather Harmon Caldwell Drew, great-grandfather Richard Cleveland Drew, and great-great-grandfather Richard Maxwell Drew, all held judgeships in Minden and Webster or surrounding parishes. The Drew family, under its patriarch, Newett Drew, settled the Overton community in Webster Parish in 1818, prior to the establishment of either the parish or the city of Minden.
Drew is also a great-grandson of Samuel Mays Grigsby, a physician who died of pneumonia in 1892 at the age of thirty-two. Dr. Grigsby was from 1891 until his death the coroner of Webster Parish. Dr. Thomas Drew Carey (born 1947), a dermatologist from Ruston, another great-grandson of Dr. Grigsby and a cousin of Judge Harmon Drew Jr., has in his possession Grigsby's diploma, graduation invitation, and scalpel. Grigsby graduated in 1887 from Alabama Medical College in Mobile, Alabama. The Grigsbys resided on Main Street near the Webster Parish Library in a house still standing. Mrs. Grigsby, Dr. Carey's great-grandmother, exchanged houses thereafter with Sam Webb, the founder of a since defunct Minden hardware store, operated for years by the aforementioned Will Life.
Drew was born to Richard Harmon Drew, Sr., (1917–1995), and the former Margaret Taylor Elam (1919–1977), a native of Mansfield in DeSoto Parish who grew up in Shreveport and Baton Rouge. Margaret Drew was a direct descendant of U.S. President Zachary Taylor through Taylor's son, Confederate General Richard Taylor. Mrs. Zachary Taylor was also named Margaret. Margaret Drew's paternal grandfather was Joseph Barton Elam, Sr. (1821-1885), the first mayor of Mansfield, a state representative, and a U.S. Representative for Louisiana's 4th congressional district.. Her uncle, Charles Wheaton Elam, was also a state representative and a founder of the Louisiana State University Law Center. Margaret and Harmon Drew, Sr., were married in an Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge on Pearl Harbor Day 1940, exactly a year before the attack on the United States by the empire of Japan. Drew and his two sisters, Elizabeth Weaver and Caldwell Colvin, were reared, like their mother, as Episcopalians. The senior Drew, however, retained Presbyterian affiliation. Harmon and Jean Drew are members of St. John's Episcopal Church near their home though Jean was reared as a United Methodist.
In 1952, while speeding through Minden, the singer Lefty Frizzell, originally from Corsicana in Navarro County, Texas, crashed his Cadillac into the Drew home. Drew, Jr,. slept through the mishap, but he recalls that his father having always thought that Frizzell had a "bad attitude"."
Since 1962, when he was a junior at Minden High School, Drew has performed with his own successful band, now known as the "Harmon Drew Super Group". Prior to his graduation in 1964 from MHS, Drew was an elected class officer for three years and the Student Council president in his senior year. He went to Boys' State leadership school in Baton Rouge in 1963 and was named the outstanding delegate from Webster, Bienville, and Claiborne parishes. He took accelerated classes in high school and was a member of the golf team.
In 1968, Drew received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He then attended the LSU Law Center, from which in 1971 he obtained his Juris Doctorate. He was the vice president of the LSU Law student body in his senior year. Drew was as a first lieutenant in the United States Army and was thereafter a member of the staff of U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston, Jr., whom he supported for governor in 1971. He was a member of the Drew, White, Drew, and Drew law firm in Minden and served as legal counsel for the Shreveport Musicians Union.
On June 28, 1970, the Drews married at the Talley home in Bogalusa in Washington Parish in southeastern Louisiana. At LSU Law School, Drew met Jean Talley, who graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1963. Not only is Jean also a lawyer, but so were her father, grandfather, and an aunt. Her father, Bascom D. Talley, Jr. (1915–1971), was from 1963 to 1964 the president of the Louisiana Bar Association.
The Drews as a team
Like Harmon Drew, Sr., Harmon and Jean Drew are Democrats. In 1990, Mrs. Drew ran for the same judgeship that her husband now holds, but she was defeated by fellow Democrat Henry Newton Brown Jr., 48,935 (57 percent) to 36,217 (43 percent). Of the nine parishes in the district, Jean Drew won in Webster, Winn, and Lincoln parishes and lost Caldwell and Jackson parishes by fewer than one hundred votes each.
Jean Drew is her husband's law clerk as well as a legal researcher and coauthor. From 1972 to 1988, the Drews practiced law together in Minden. From 1974 to 1983, Drew served as an assistant district attorney for Bossier and Webster parishes, based in the Minden office. In 1983–1984, he was designated first assistant district attorney. He served under District Attorneys Charles Allen Marvin (1929–2003) and Henry Brown, the same Henry Brown who had defeated Mrs. Drew in the judicial contest of 1990. Marvin was the father of current district attorney Schuyler Marvin. Harmon and Jean Drew teach the law of search and seizure and the criminal code to some three thousand peace officers each year. Two of their books are updated annually to explain amendments passed by the Louisiana legislature. Their True Blue Drew Book explains criminal law amendments in simple terms. Several thousand copies are sold throughout the state.
In 2008, Mrs. Drew required emergency abdominal surgery that saved her life but left her in need of repeated blood transfusions because of debilitating anemia. In December 2013, law enforcement personnel in northwest Louisiana held a blood drive because of Mrs. Drew's needs and to honor the couple for their teaching of the peace officers. The Drews have two children. Richard Harmon Drew, III (born 1974), obtained a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Known as "Richard," he graduated from LSU Law School in 2009. Their daughter, Georgia Drew Boswell, graduated from Louisiana Tech University in Ruston and holds a Master of Science in hospitality and tourism from the University of New Orleans. On March 12, 2014, the Boswells' 15-month-old son, Drew Joseph Boswell, died suddenly in his crib at his home in New Orleans.
In 1984, Drew's father stepped down from a second nonconsecutive term as the Minden municipal court judge, a position created in 1928 and originally held by the senior Drew's uncle. Drew, Jr., was elected to a six-year term to succeed his father. He defeated a Minden friend and legal colleague, Democrat Paul Edward Kitchens (born 1945), for the position. Kitchens' brother, Graydon K. Kitchens, Jr., had held the city judge's post for two years prior to the tenure of R. Harmon Drew, Sr. Graydon K. Kitchens Sr., a law partner of Governor Robert F. Kennon, a Minden native, was the interim DA from 1941 to 1942. Harmon Drew, Sr., who had preceded his son on the city court, returned for an interim appointment to the position after Drew, Jr., stepped down in 1988. Drew, Sr. was selected by the Louisiana Supreme Court to fill the city court position pending the election of Democrat John Cecil Campbell over the Minden attorney Randy D. Elkins.
Drew, Jr., left the city bench when he was elected in 1988 as the Minden judge of the 26th Judicial District Court. Starting in 1989, the 26th District increased in judgeships from four to five. There are currently six 26th Judicial District judges. Drew succeeded the retiring 26th District Judge Cecil C. Lowe of Minden, who had run against Drew's father for district attorney in 1952, and both had lost to Louis H. Padgett, Jr. (1913–1980). Drew assumed office on March 20, 1988, his seating having been delayed by litigation over the configuration of the state's district court system. His father swore Drew into the district judgeship.
Drew was subsequently reelected to the 26th District Court without opposition in 1990 and in 1996. In 1998, while still on the district court, Drew was elected without opposition to his current circuit judgeship. In 2008, he was unopposed for reelection to a second ten-year term on the court. Like is grandfather Harmon Caldwell Drew, he holds the highest judgeship ever obtained by election for a Webster Parish attorney because no lawyer from the parish has yet to be elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the highest tribunal in the state. He was again unopposed for his third ten-year-term in 2018. The appeal court handles cases from twenty northern Louisiana parishes; the members sit in three-judge panels, much as their national court counterparts. Drew's affiliations include the American, Louisiana, and Shreveport bar associations. He is a speaker on criminal law, ethics, and professionalism. He co-founded and is a former owner of Nuts & Bolts Fun judicial seminars.
The music continues too
Drew has been a musician for a decade longer than he has been a lawyer. His 12-piece band injects a Louisiana flavor into early 1960s rhythm and blues. In 2001, readers of Shreveport Bossier magazine selected the group as their favorite North Louisiana entertainers. That same year, the band took 240 fans on a 7-day Caribbean cruise. The Harmon Drew Super Group originally performed in northwest Louisiana, but over the years the group has entertained in locations as far away as Montgomery, Alabama; Destin, Florida; Oklahoma City; San Angelo, Texas, and Tupelo, Mississippi, the birthplace of Elvis Presley.
In a 2001 interview, Drew told then entertainment writer Margaret Martin of The Shreveport Times that he began his musical career by "tinkering with the keyboard by ear [because] I never really learned to read music. I'm not talented, but I'm diligent." Martin noticed that Drew keeps a keyboard on his desk. The walls of his office are filled with law books and portraits of his grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom once held the judgeship that he occupies.
Drew's original band, "The Monks," played mostly Bob Dylan tunes. Two years later Drew coined a new name, "Ivy Peebles Medicine Show Band," to recognize the late justice of the peace who had performed the marriage of the band's one-time drummer, Max Kees. Early gigs were mostly for Minden High School after-football game dances. They often were paid $25 (203 in 2019 dollars). The band continued as Drew went to college and law school.
Margaret Martin summed up Drew this way: "Music is in his blood, but he is serious about his law career and proud that he is a fifth generation lawyer/judge."
- Drew Family. mindenmemories.org. Retrieved on June 5, 2011; no longer on-line.
- List of Webster Parish Coroners, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1871, Webster Parish Police Jury publication.
- Statement of Dr. Thomas Drew Carey, Ruston, Louisiana, December 21, 2010.
- Minden Herald and Webster Review, May 2, 1957, p. 8.
- Judge Harmon Drew, Jr., to Earlene Mendenhall Lyle, Lyle newsletter, May 4, 2008.
- Minden (Louisiana) High School Grig yearbook, 1964.
- "Drew Wins LSU Office," Minden Press-Herald, April 27, 1970, p. 1.
- "Harmon Drew, Jr., runs for ward judge post" Minden Press-Herald,' June 7, 1984, p. 1.
- Past Presidents of the Louisiana Bar Association. lsba.org. Retrieved on October 13, 2014.
- [www.drewlawbooks.com/ True Blue Drew Book]. Drewlawbooks.com. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
- Angela Thomas (December 2, 2013). Local Law Enforcement Agencies Holding Blood Drives in Honor of Jean & Harmon Drew. KEEL Radio. Retrieved on December 2, 2013.
- Drew Joseph Boswell obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 14, 2014.
- List of District Attorneys of Webster Parish, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1971.
- Minden Press-Herald, October 2, 1988, p. 1.
- "5th judge approved for 26th District", Minden Press-Herald, June 21, 1989, p. 1.
- "Racial litigation expected to delay seating of judge," Minden Press-Herald, January 22, 1988, p. 1.
- "Judge Drew taking oath, Minden Press-Herald, March 20, 1988, p. 1.
- Harmon Drew Super Group - Hall of Fame. Harmondrew.com. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.
- Harmon Drew Super Group - Band. Harmondrew.com. Retrieved on August 21, 2019.