Justice Biographies

Justice James A. Emmert

(Seventy-ninth Justice)

Justice Emmert

Justice Emmert was born September 26, 1895, in Laurel, Indiana, and died April 14, 1974, in Shelbyville, Indiana.193

He was a graduate of the Clarksburg (Indiana) High School and the Tennessee Military Institute.194 He received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and a law degree from Harvard Law School.195 "United States Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter [said] that Judge Emmert was the best research student he ever had at Harvard."196

He began his first law practice in Shelbyville, Indiana in 1923.197 In 1925, he was elected mayor of Shelbyville.198 Then, in 1928, while serving as mayor, he was elected judge of Shelby Circuit Court and was subsequently re-elected in 1934.199 In 1940, he was a candidate for governor of Indiana, but he lost the nomination.200 He was elected Indiana Attorney General in 1942 and was reelected in 1944.201 In 1946, he was elected to the Indiana Supreme Court where he served until January 5, 1959.202 Justice Emmert served as chief justice for several six month rotation periods, which was the practice of the time.203 Then, toward the end of his service on the bench, he was elected by the court to serve a one year term as chief justice.204

In addition to his legal accomplishments, he was a World War I Army veteran, having served twenty-two months at a British general hospital in France.205

Known for his eccentricity, he set up housekeeping in his Indiana State House chambers in order to avoid traveling to Shelbyville.206 He had a sofa-bed installed, and prepared his meals on a hot-plate.207

193. Obituaries, RES GESTAE, May 1974, at 32, 32-33.
194. Id.
195. Id.
196. The Fun of Being a Lawyer and a Judge, INDIANA LAWYER, Jan. 11, 1995, at 5, 5 (reflections on Justice Emmert in a speech given by Justice Givan) [hereinafter Givan Speech].
197. Obituaries, supra note 193, at 33.
198. Id.
199. Id.
200. Id.
201. Id.
202. Givan Speech, supra note 196, at 5.
203. Obituaries, supra note 193, at 33.
204. Id.
205. Givan Speech, supra note 196, at 5.
206. Obituaries, supra note 193, at 33.
207. Id.

Source: Browning, Minde C., Richard Humphrey, and Bruce Kleinschmidt. "Biographical Sketches of Indiana Supreme Court Justices." Indiana Law Review: Vol. 30, No. 1, 1997. View this source in PDF format.