William J. Fleniken

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William Joseph Fleniken, Sr.​

Attorney for the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, based in Shreveport
In office
April 23, 1952​ – August 1953

Acting U.S. Attorney: May to August 1950
​ and December 1950 to April 1952​

Preceded by Harvey Locke Carey (August to December 1950)​
Succeeded by Thomas F. Wilson​

Judge of the Louisiana 1st Judicial District Court for [Caddo and DeSoto parishes​
In office
November 1961​ – December 1978​
Preceded by Robert J. O'Neal​
Succeeded by

Born September 8, 1908​
Benson, DeSoto Parish
, Louisiana​
Died May 5, 1979 (aged 70)​
Shreveport, Caddo Parish​ ​
Resting place Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport​
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) Kathryn Connerton Fleniken (married c. 1934-1979, his death)​
Children William J. Fleniken, Jr.​

Parents:
Joseph Jackson and Julia Smith Fleniken​

Residence Shreveport, Louisiana​
Alma mater Clifton Ellis Byrd High School​

Centenary College of Louisiana
​ University of Houston Law Center
​ Special study:
University of Colorado Law School​

Occupation Attorney ​
Religion Southern Baptist

William Joseph Fleniken, Sr. (September 8, 1908 – May 5, 1979), was a jurist from Shreveport, Louisiana, who served as federal attorney for the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana from 1950 to 1953 and on the Louisiana 1st Judicial District Court from 1961 until 1978, shortly before his death.[1]

Background

Fleniken's ancestors settled in DeSoto Parish in northwestern Louisiana prior to the American Civil War. He was among at least seven children, two brothers and four sisters,[1] born in rural Benson in DeSoto Parish to Joseph Jackson Fleniken (1867-1951) and the former Julia Smith (1873-1947). With his parents, he relocated to Shreveport while he was a child. Joseph and Julia Fleniken, along with another son, Judge Fleniken's brother, Curran S. Fleniken (1907-1982), are interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in Texarkana in Miller County in southwestern Arkansas.[2]

​Fleniken graduated from Clifton Ellis Byrd High School and attended Centenary College, both institutions near the other in Shreveport. He graduated from the University of Houston Law Center[1] and was admitted to the practice of law. For eight years thereafter, he was associated with the legal department of the Kansas City Southern Railroad and the Louisiana and Arkansas (L&A) Railway.

Legal career

​ In 1946, Fleniken was named assistant U.S. Attorney under Malcolm Lafargue, who left the position in May 1950 to run unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary election against U.S. Senator Russell Long. Fleniken was briefly the acting U.S. Attorney until Harvey Locke Carey took the position in August 1950 as a Truman appointee. Fleniken was again named acting U.S. Attorney from December 1950 to early in 1952. On April 23, 1952, Fleniken was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the official U.S. Attorney. U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Cornwell Dawkins, Sr. (1881-1966), said upon Fleniken's accession as U. S. attorney: "You have the integrity and the willingness to work .... You also possess a kind disposition."[3] Fleniken remained U. S. attorney until August 1953, when the Eisenhower administration replaced him with Thomas F. Wilson. ​

After his work as U.S. attorney, Fleniken resumed the practice of law under the name Brown & Fleniken, with partner Algie D. Brown, a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1940 to 1968. Both Brown and Fleniken were active members of the First Baptist Church of Shreveport.[1]

On November 14, 1961, Fleniken won the "Division A" seat on the 1st Judicial Court for Caddo and Desoto parishes to fill the unexpired term of Judge Robert J. O'Neal,[4]whose service dated to the late 1930s with Chief Judge Thornton F. Bell. Fleniken was reelected in 1966 without opposition and again in 1972. He retired as chief judge of the 1st District Court in 1978.[1] In 1964, Fleniken attended on a fellowship from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation the first session of the National College of State Trial Judges at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado. He was affiliated with the National Conference of State Trial Judges, the American Judicature Society, the Louisiana District Judges Association, and his local, state, and national bar associations.

In 1964, Judge Fleniken accused the imprisoned rodeo star Clarence R. Daley of trying to purchase a parole. Louisiana Attorney General Jack P. F. Gremillion told the Louisiana Pardon Board at a meeting in New Orleans that he had received nearly two hundred letters requesting that Daley be pardoned or given early release from the penitentiary. The former cowboy had been convicted in February 1962 of attacking three persons with a knife in Shreveport and was serving two consecutive two-year sentences, which Judge Fleniken affirmed.[5]

In April 1977, Judge Fleniken ruled that former Shreveport Public Safety Commissioner George Wendell D'Artois, Sr. (1925-1974) would stand trial for the felony theft of $30,000 in municipal funds declared to have been paid to police informers. D'Artois' attorney questioned how his client could be tried considering his rapidly failing health. Fleniken said prosecutors must have doctors and medical equipment at ta defendant’s lifestyle in deciding whether a person is too ill for trial.[6]Two months after Judge Fleniken's order, D'Artois died in San Antonio, Texas, while undergoing heart surgery. D'Artois' passing spared the settlement of pending multiple issues against him, which have never been resolved, including his role if any in the assassination in Baton Rouge of a public relations executive, Jim Leslie (1937-1976), who had performed campaign work for D'Artois.[7]

Personal life

Fleniken was a member of the Shreveport High Twelve Club, Masonic lodge and the Shriners, for which he served on the board of the Shriners Hospital for Children in Shreveport. He was further active in the Salvation Army, YMCA, the Boy Scouts, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and the Shreveport Optimist Club. He was an avid golfer, fisherman, and hunter.[1]

In 1935, Fleniken married the former Kathryn Connerton, who died in 1995 in Fort Worth, Texas, where their only child, William J. Fleniken, Jr. (born December 21, 1935), a graduate of Centenary College and the University of Houston Law Center practiced law. He later moved his practice to Aransas Pass, Texas.[8]In 1978, the year before his father's death, the junior Fleniken married the former Gypsy Anne Cox (born December 26, 1934).[9]

Judge Fleniken's services were held at the First Baptist Church of Shreveport. He and his wife are interred at Forest Park East Cemetery in Shreveport.[1] ​ ​

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Retired Caddo district judge dies at 70, The Shreveport Times, May 6, 1979, p. 16-A.
  2. Fleniken graves at Woodlawn Cemetery. findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  3. Fleniken sworn in as U. S. attorney. Monroe News Star (April 23, 1952). Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  4. The Shreveport Times, November 15, 1961, p. 1.
  5. State v. Daley. casetext.com (December 10, 1962). Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  6. D'Artois Trial Ordered. The Monroe News-Star (April 5, 1977). Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  7. George Wendell D'Artois, Sr.. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  8. William J. Fleniken, Jr.. law.link.com. Retrieved on June 6, 2020.
  9. William J. Fleniken, Jr., weds Gypsy Anne Cox, ​Texas Marriage Record Index, 1966-2008; 10305203135822093029/.

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