Jack P. F. Gremillion

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Jack Paul Faustin Gremillion, Sr.​

Louisiana State Attorney General​
In office
May 1956​ – May 1972​
Preceded by Fred S. LeBlanc
Succeeded by William J. Guste

Louisiana Secretary of State
Preceded by E. A. Conway​
Succeeded by Wade Omer Martin, Jr.​

Born June 15, 1914​
Ascension Parish, Louisiana​
Died March 2, 2001 (aged 86)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana​
Resting place Greenoaks Memorial Park in Baton Rouge​
Nationality American​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Doris McDonald Gremillion (married 1942-1989, her death)​
Children Jack P. F. Gremillion, Jr.

William McDonald Gremillion
​ Wayne Francis Gremillion
​ Doris H. Gremillion
​ Charles Mark Gremillion​
William Kossuth and Genoa Henderson Gremillion​

Alma mater Ascension Catholic High School​

Louisiana State University
​ LSU Law Center​

Occupation Attorney

United States Army in World War II

Religion Roman Catholic

Military Service
Service/branch United States Army
Rank First Lieutenant in Infantry
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Purple Heart

Jack Paul Faustin Gremillion, Sr. (June 15, 1914 – March 2, 2001), was the Democratic Attorney General of Louisiana from 1956 to 1972. He was a member of the pro-Long political faction. As attorney general, he was called on to defend state law in the matter of school desegregation.

Gremillion was a party loyalist of the Democratic Party and was a presidential elector for the John F. Kennedy--Lyndon B. Johnson presidential ticket in 1960. Kennedy and Johnson easily won Louisiana's ten electoral votes that year. In addition to school desegregation, Gremillion played an instrumental role in other landmark cases of the day, including the Louisiana tidelands and the Sabine River boundary with Texas.​


The French-speaking Gremillion (pronounced GRE ME YOHN) was born to William Kossuth Gremillion and the former Genoa Henderson in Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish near the capital of Baton Rouge. He graduated from Ascension Catholic High School in Donaldsonville and then attended Louisiana State University and the LSU Law Center in Baton Rouge from 1931 to 1937.[1]

Gremillion's father was a telegraph operator for the Texas and Pacific Railroad; his mother was a school teacher. From meager family means, with four siblings, Gremillion worked his way through college mainly at Solvay Chemical in Baton Rouge. He studied law under the tutelage of Frederick Saugrain "Fred" LeBlanc, Sr. (1897-1969), then a practicing attorney in Baton Rouge, who also served as attorney general. Gremillion succeeded LeBlanc in that position in 1956. Gremillion was admitted to the practice of law and was a member of the American Bar Association.​

On January 12, 1942, Gremillion married the former Doris McDonald (July 13, 1920 — October 31, 1989). The couple had four sons and a daughter, Jack P. F. Gremillion, Jr. (born 1944), William McDonald Gremillion (born 1946), Wayne Francis Gremillion (born 1947), Doris H. Gremillion, and Charles Mark Gremillion (born 1958).​ He was a member of the Roman Catholic Church and its Knights of Columbus men's organization, the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.[1] Before he became attorney general, he had been a counsel to the state revenue department and an assistant district attorney in East Baton Rouge Parish.[2] He was a short, stoutly built, balding man with a loud voice and a determined, self-confident demeanor.​ ​

The Earl Long era and Populist politics

​ Gremillion was tapped by Earl Long to run for attorney general in the 1956 Democratic primary after Long's first choice, Alexandria attorney Camille Gravel, turned down an offer to run for the position, which paid a low salary compared to what lawyers could then earn. Gremillion was in Donaldsonville acting as a pallbearer at an uncle's funeral when a messenger told him that "Uncle Earl" wanted him to run for attorney general. Gremillion went on to unseat his former mentor, Attorney General Fred S. LeBlanc, who had first been elected in 1944.​[3]

As the 1955 primary campaign proceeded, Earl Long complained to his associates that Gremillion's constant "speech" on the stump was getting on Long's nerves. The sarcastic Long belittled Gremillion, as he did many others, saying that Gremillion did not "know a lawsuit from a jumpsuit" and scoffed: "If you want to hide something from Jack Gremillion, put it in a lawbook!"​[3]

Long's outburst was related to a dog racing track that he wanted approved for a developer friend, although dog racing was illegal in the state. When a legal assistant in the Attorney General's office confirmed the illegality of dog racing, Long delivered the famous zinger directed at Gremillion—although Gremillion's assistant was, in fact, correct about the law, and had, in fact, verified it in a law book.[4] Gremillion was good-humored about the slight, saying later, "If it's funny, it doesn't matter if it's true!"​

On taking office in 1956, Gremillion retained the assistant attorney general Edward Moss Carmouche, Sr. (1921-1990), a lawyer from Lake Charles and, like Gremillion, an active figure in the state Democratic Party.[5]

In April 1960, after he had won his second consecutive Democratic nomination for attorney general, Gremillion faced a Republican challenger, Baton Rouge attorney Nealon Stracener (1916-1990). Gremillion soundly defeated Stracener, 86.4 to 13.6 percent.​

In 1963, Gremillion defeated a single Democratic primary challenger, Charles A. Riddle, Jr.[6]

Gremillion referred to his World War II service in his campaign speeches to appeal to Louisiana's large number of voters who were also veterans. Gremillion saw heavy combat in the European theatre in the V infantry division. He was severely injured as a first lieutenant in charge of a platoon rooting out snipers. He was awarded a Purple Heart. His sergeant was killed in the same battle. While convalescing in a British hospital, Gremillion befriended his doctor, who subsequently visited him in the United States and with whom he would remain close for many years.

William J. "Bill" Dodd, who was running for auditor (also called comptroller) in the same primary in which Gremillion was seeking the attorney general's position, recalled Earl Long's extreme sensitivity to Gremillion's decorated war record. In Dodd's words, Long "was a draft dodger in World War I, and was sensitive and touchy about candidates who bragged on their war records..."​[3]

Dodd said that he knew Gremillion "had a good war record and that he had received a Purple Heart. He got it from a gunshot wound he received while leaning over to help a fallen infantry man. The bullet or shrapnel hit Gremillion in the belly and traveled down between his legs. Gremillion liked to talk about his Purple Heart, but he never said where he got shot."[3] In the town of Montgomery in Grant Parish, Dodd told a campaign gathering that "Our hero, Jack Gremillion, was breathing gunpowder and killing Germans. Why, he almost got killed himself when an enemy shell plowed into one of his most vital organs; if you don't believe Jack Gremillion earned his Purple Heart, he will show you the scars he has to prove it."​[3] ​ The typically self-deprecating Gremillion later told him, "Dodd, I appreciate your bragging on my war record, but don't tell the crowds that I will show them where I got shot. Several of those darn redneck wanted me to show them my scars and got mad when I refused to pull down my pants."[3]

Landmark issues


​ Starting in 1956, Gremillion led the state of Louisiana in a protracted battle with the U. S. government regarding the claims of offshore oil management and royalties. The issue became known as the "Tidelands"[7] Utilizing a superb legal team, Gremillion argued Louisiana's constitutional and historic right to its tidelands territory up to three marine leagues [about 10.5 geographical miles] from the coast. The United States Supreme Court decided against the state, awarding it only three geographical miles [8]

Ken DeJean, a special assistant to four Louisiana attorneys general, believes more than the facts of the case were at play. “Louisiana had been a bad boy after the civil war,“ he said. “This was, in effect, punishment. We should have gotten a much larger piece of the pie. We had strong leadership and some of the brightest legal minds working on this case. … We had strong leadership and some of the brightest legal minds anywhere working on this case."[9]

In a notable dissent, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote that the court should apply “broad principles of equity” and award all of the Gulf states three marine leagues. He did not accept the majority opinion, but sided with Louisiana.​

School desegregation

​ In 1960, Gremillion was charged with contempt of court for a comment he made in a federal courtroom while he was opposing the New Orleans school desegregation case. Judge Edwin Ford Hunter, Jr, who charged Gremillion with contempt, had been his personal friend for many years. The contempt charge came in a federal hearing when Gremillion challenged a judge's ruling that affidavit testimony, instead of witness testimony, be allowed. Gremillion asserted he had not been made aware of the affidavits in question, as is required, and motioned for a postponement. When the motion was denied, Gremillion claimed the judge was presiding over a "kangaroo court" and a "den of iniquity."[10][11]

National issues and states rights

​ As a member of the National Association of Attorneys General, Gremillion won the organizations's top award in 1963, being judged the outstanding Attorney General in the country, the Wyman Memorial Award. He was elected as president of the National Association of Attorneys Generals (NAAG) in January 1965 and re-elected in June 1965. He served as chairman of the southern regional conference of attorneys general in 1962 and 1963. He served on several boards and commissions, including The State Bond and Tax Board, the Pardon Board and Legislative Bureau. Journalist F. E. Shepherd wrote that Gremillion had brought "considerable prestige" to his office and was "an indefatigable worker."[12]

Gremillion's legal troubles

In 1968, Governor John J. McKeithen asked Gremillion to investigate potential Mafia infiltration of the Louisiana state government. Gremillion reported that there was no evidence this had occurred. In 1966, the Louisiana Loan and Thrift Corporation was organized; it collected $2.6 million from small depositors and made loans to various politicians and companies connected to crime boss Carlos Marcello of New Orleans. Gremillion steered federal investigators away from the company, which he declared sound. LL&T paid Gremillion $10,000 in legal fees.[13]

In 1971, Gremillion was charged in the United States District Court in Baton Rouge with mail fraud, conspiracy, and fraud in the sale of securities when LL&T went bankrupt, with the small investors taking heavy losses.​ Tried and acquitted of all charges, Gremillion sought a fifth term as attorney general.

He was convicted later in that campaign year on federal perjury charges. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fred Cassibry in New Orleans to three years imprisonment for perjury - lying to a grand jury about whether he had been a paid consultant to Louisiana Loan & Thrift. Gremillion served for two years after losing his appeal in 1973.[14]

Though sentenced to three years in prison, Gremillion served only fifteen months in the federal prison at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards pardoned Gremillion in 1976 so that he could resume his law practice. Edwards said the pardon was required by state law because all first offenders who completed a sentence were automatically pardoned. Edwards signed the pardon paper to avoid any misunderstanding in Gremillion's case.[1]

Gremillion was denied a runoff berth for the Democratic nomination for attorney general in the 1971 primary. He was succeeded in the office by his fellow Democrat, then State Senator William J. Guste of New Orleans. Guste won the party runoff election in December 1971 over fellow state Senator George T. Oubre of St. James Parish and then overwhelmed the Republican candidate, Tom Stagg of Shreveport, in the general election held on February 1, 1972, when gubernatorial nominee Edwin Edwards defeated Republican David C. Treen for the first of two matches.​

Gremillion died after a long illness in Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge. He and his wife Doris are interred at Greenoaks Memorial Park in Baton Rouge.​[1]


In 1965, Gremillion asked one of his favorite entertainers, James Francis "Jimmy" Durante (1893-1980), a staunch Democrat, to perform before the National Association of Attorneys General in their annual meeting in San Antonio. A close friend of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Durante agreed to perform for the attorneys general. Durante was also a friend of Frank Wilson Manning (1903-1977), a former bodyguard of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., and Gremillion's chief investigator.[15][16]

Jack Gremillion had six brown dachshunds throughout a span of time, all os which he named "Sam." He also used the nom de plume "Sam" when submitting various articles to Baton Rouge newspapers.​


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Gremillion, Jack Paul Faustin (1914-2001). The Political Graveyard. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  2. '"Jack P. F. Gremillion," 'Who's Who in America, 1968.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics (Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishers, 1991).
  4. The Baton Rouge State-Times (defunct), November 23, 1978.
  5. The Lake Charles American Press, April 7, 1990.
  6. Minden Press, December 9, 1963, p. 1.
  7. The Baton Rouge State Times (defunct), "Offbeat Report, "November 23, 1978.
  8. Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 38.2 (1997), pp. 203-210.
  9. Interview with Leslie Alexander, July 8, 2014.
  10. Special Collections: Historical Papers Received by LSU Libraries, Jack P. F. Gremillion, Sr., April 14, 1988.
  11. Jack Walter Peltason (1923-2015) (April 1, 1971). Fifty-Eight Lonely Men: Federal Judges and School Desegregation. Goodreads.com. Retrieved on January 9, 2020. 
  12. "Inaugural Section," Baton Rouge State Times, May 13, 1968.
  13. Life magazine (Vol. 68, No. 13), p. 53.
  14. ES&S, Diebold lobbyists,. bbvforums.org (July 21, 2005). Retrieved on June 26, 2013; material no longer accessible.
  15. Patricia B. Mitchell (January 1975). New Orleans' French Quarter During the Depression: Frank Manning. Mitchellspublications.com. Retrieved on January 9, 2020.
  16. Frank Wilson Manning. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on January 10, 2020.

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