|Henry Lee Yelverton, Jr.|
Judge, 14th Judicial District Court
1971 – 1982
Judge, Louisiana Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit
1982 – 2003
|Born|| June 5, 1928|
Sikes, Winn Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Died|| July 31, 2009 (aged 81)|
Lake Charles, Louisiana
|Resting place||Consolata Cemetery in Lake Charles|
|Spouse(s)||Lorraine LeJeune Yelverton (married 1953-2009, his death)|
|Children|| Clark J. Yelverson
Scott R. Yelverton
|Alma mater|| Louisiana State University
|Yelverton was so committed to his legal career that he returned to the Circuit Court of Appeals after mandatory retirement at the age of seventy-five to work another five years as a law clerk.|
Early years and education
Yelverton was born to Henry Lee Yelverton, Sr. (1904–1928), and the former Iona Mae Gates (1911–1992) near rural Sikes in Winn Parish in north central Louisiana. His father died at the age of twenty-four, some two months before Yelverton’s birth. After 1930, Mrs. Yelverton married J. K. Roberts, and the couple had two children, Shirley Kay Roberts and Glynn David Roberts, Henry’s half-siblings.
Yelverton was subsequently reared on a small cotton farm in West Carroll Parish in northeastern Louisiana, where his stepfather was a sharecropper]until 1938, when he purchased forty acres of woodland on Macon Ridge near Epps. There the couple built a house and farmed.
Yelverton’s high school years coincided with World War II. A teacher encouraged him to study Latin. He became so fascinated with the subject – Julius Caesar, Cicero, Tacitus, Livy, and Virgil — that in 1949 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge, as well as a commission in the United States Air Force Reserve. He procured a tuition scholarship at LSU and was given a minimum wage job at the LSU Poultry Farm, where he resided during his college years. From 1949 to 1951, Yelverton taught Latin at the defunct Sewanee Military Academy in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he also excelled as a boxing coach. In 1951, he obtained a Judah Touro Fellowship in classical languages at Tulane University in New Orleans, from which he received a Master of Arts in Latin. He then taught Latin at St. Martin’s Episcopal School inMetairie in Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans.
Military and legal career
On Valentine's Day 1953, Yelverton married the former Lorraine LeJeune of Addis in West Baton Rouge Parish. Yelverton was soon called by the Air Force to active duty as an intelligence officer with the Strategic Air Command. Lorraine joined him in the military, and in 1954, Clark J. Yelverton, the oldest of their seven children, was born at an Air Force installation in Spokane, Washington.
After his tour of duty with the Air Force ended, the Yelvertons returned to Baton Rouge where he enrolled in 1955 at the Paul M. Hebert Law Center. There, their second son, Scott R. Yelverton, was born. While in law school, Yelverton worked for state Senator J. D. DeBlieux of Baton Rouge, whose reputation of honesty and morality in public life Yelverton admired. In his last year of law school, Yelverton received the Allen Barksdale Award for scholastic accomplishments. Upon graduation in 1957, the Yelvertons relocated to Lake Charles where he was affiliated with the firm, Camp, Palmer, Yelverton & Carwile. One of his first tasks there was to process government disaster loans following Hurricane Audrey, which particularly devastated neighboring Cameron Parish.
District and appellate judge
Yelverton entered public service in 1961 as first assistant district attorney for the 14th Judicial District. For the next decade he was legal counsel for the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury and School Board, and the Airport Authority. In the spring of 1971, then Governor John J. McKeithen appointed his fellow Democrat, Yelverton, to a 14th Judicial District judgeship, a position that he held for eleven years. As a trial judge, Yelverton argued for the acceleration of court business to avoid long delays. At the conclusion of his tenure on the District Court, Yelverton was recognized by the Supreme Court Judicial Administrator for his promptness in deciding cases. He made several court changes, including the hearing of criminal plea bargains in open court, rather than in the judge’s chambers. He also instituted a jury pool system to accelerate the selection of jurors. In 1975, the Louisiana Supreme Court asked Yelverton to help develop a procedure to alleviate the docket of the state Court of Appeal, 1st Circuit in Baton Rouge.
In 1982, Yelverton was elected without opposition to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, with authority in twenty-one parishes of southwestern and central Louisiana. He remained a circuit judge until he reached the mandatory retirement age of seventy-five. He also sat on numerous occasions on the Louisiana Supreme Court. The day after his retirement, he went to work for the 3rd Circuit as a part-time law clerk, a position from which he retired at the age of eighty. because of lung cancer.
In 1989, Yelverton persuaded his fellow judges to adopt a new docket for the summary disposition of certain cases, a plan which reduced the backlog by a considerable margin. He was a founding member of the Criminal Bench Book Committee which devised the criminal bench book used in the trial courts. He formerly chaired the Uniform Rules Committee of the Louisiana Appellate Judges Conference. He wrote "Handbook of Louisiana Court of Appeal, Third Circuit, Procedure," a book for the use of young lawyers on the subjects of how to take an appeal and apply to the court's supervisory jurisdiction.
Yelverton died in Lake Charles at the age of eight-one. He held membership in Eta Sigma Phi honorary classical fraternity and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity. He was a member of the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus Roman Catholic fraternal men’s organization, and the Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church in Lake Charles, where he was also a trustee and a member of the parish council.
Services were held on August 3, 2009, at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church. Interment was at Consolata Cemetery in Lake Charles. Yelverton was survived by his wife of fifty-six years, Lorraine, all seven children, fifteen grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and two younger half-sibling from his father's second marriage.
- Social Security Death Index. ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved on August 27, 2009.
- Judge Henry Yelverton. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on August 28, 2009.
- J. Cleveland Fruge, Biographies of Louisiana Judges, 1971. Louisiana District Association, publishers. 1971. Retrieved on August 27, 2009.
- Judge Henry L. Yelverton dies at the age of 81. KPLC=TV. Retrieved on August 14, 2014.
- Tributes.com: Because Every Life Has a Story. tributes.com. Retrieved on August 28, 2009.