Erskine Mayo Ross
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Erskine Mayo Ross
Erskine Mayo Ross
Erskine Mayo Ross 1903.jpg
Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

May 31, 1925 - December 10, 1928
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

February 22, 1895 - May 31, 1925
Grover Cleveland
Seat established by 28 Stat. 665
Wallace McCamant
Judge of the United States Circuit Courts for the Ninth Circuit

February 22, 1895 - December 31, 1911
Grover Cleveland
Seat established by 28 Stat. 665
Seat abolished
Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California

January 13, 1887 - March 5, 1895
Grover Cleveland
Seat established by 24 Stat. 308
Olin Wellborn
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court

January 5, 1880 - October 1, 1886
Seat established
Jackson Temple
Personal details
Born
Erskine Mayo Ross

(1845-06-30)June 30, 1845
Culpeper County, Virginia
DiedDecember 10, 1928(1928-12-10) (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California
Political partyDemocratic
EducationVirginia Military Institute
read law
Known forAlpha Tau Omega (co-founder)

Erskine Mayo Ross (June 30, 1845 - December 10, 1928) was an American attorney and jurist from California. He served as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and of the United States Circuit Courts for the Ninth Circuit and previously was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California and a Justice of the Supreme Court of California.

Early life

Ross was born in Belpre on June 30, 1845, in Culpeper County, Virginia.[1] He attended the Virginia Military Institute, leaving school twice during the Civil War to assist the Confederate States Army and then returning for further training, graduating in 1864.[2][3]

Legal and judicial career in California

In 1868, Ross moved to Los Angeles, California, and joined the law office of his uncle, Cameron E. Thom, a prominent lawyer and former state senator who would later serve as Mayor of Los Angeles. After studying law at Thom's office for two years, Ross was admitted to the bar of the district court. In 1875, he joined the bar of the state supreme court, having already become wealthy and famous through his partnership with his uncle.[3]

In October 1879, when adoption of a new constitution required elections for all court seats, Ross was elected to the Supreme Court of California and began his term on January 5, 1880.[4][5] A Democrat, he was elected at age 34 without having served on the bench of any lower court.[6] The newly elected justices drew lots to determine their length of term, and both he and John Sharpstein drew three-year terms.[7][8] In October 1882, Ross was re-elected on the Democratic ticket along with Sharpstein to a 12-year term on the high court.[9] In November 1885, he announced his plans to resign to return to private practice with law partner Stephen M. White effective January 1, 1886.[10] Instead, Ross delayed his resignation and stayed on the court until October 1, 1886.[11]

Federal judicial service

Ross was nominated by President Grover Cleveland on December 16, 1886, to the United States District Court for the Southern District of California, to a new seat authorized by 24 Stat. 308.[5][12] He was confirmed by the United States Senate on January 13, 1887, and received his commission the same day.[5] His service terminated on March 5, 1895, due to his elevation to the Ninth Circuit.[5]

Ross was nominated by President Cleveland on February 19, 1895, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States Circuit Courts for the Ninth Circuit, to a new seat authorized by 28 Stat. 665.[5] He was confirmed by the Senate on February 22, 1895, and received his commission the same day.[5] On December 31, 1911, the Circuit Courts were abolished and he thereafter served only on the Court of Appeals.[5] He assumed senior status on May 31, 1925.[5] His service terminated on December 10, 1928, due to his death in Los Angeles.[5][13]

Bequest creating Ross Essay Contest

In his will, Ross bequeathed $100,000 to endow an essay contest administered by the American Bar Association.[14] The essay contest spawned a well-known tax case, in which a winner avoided paying income tax on his prize money.[15] Congress later amended the tax code so that such winnings would be taxed.[16] The topic for the 2009 Ross Essay Contest is Write an open letter to the new president and Congress describing the most important priority for improving the U.S. justice system.[17]

Alpha Tau Omega

Ross was one of the founders of the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega.[18]

Personal life

On May 7, 1874, Ross wed Inez Hannah Bettis. In 1875, they had one son, Robert Erskine Ross. Inez died December 12, 1907, and in June 1909 Ross remarried to Ida Haraszphy Hancock, a wealthy widow in Los Angeles.[19] Ross was a charter member of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of California, admitted on November 30, 1895. General Society No 1360, California Society No. 17.[20][21]

References

  1. ^ Johnson, J. Edward (1963). History of the California Supreme Court: The Justices 1850-1900, vol 1 (PDF). San Francisco, CA: Bender Moss Co. pp. 131-133. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 27, 2016. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ "Minister Denby Breakfasted". Daily Alta California (39 (12938)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 16 August 1885. p. 8. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ a b Oscar T. Shuck, History of the Bench and Bar of California, page 657.
  4. ^ "Official Returns of the Election". Sacramento Daily Union (8 (191)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 20 October 1879. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Bio of Ross, Erskine May". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2017.
  6. ^ "The State Government, Associate Justices". Sacramento daily record-union. Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. January 10, 1880. p. 3. Retrieved 2017.
  7. ^ "The New State Supreme Court". Sacramento Daily Record-Union. Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. January 6, 1880. p. 1. Retrieved 2017.
  8. ^ "The Courts, Supreme Court". Sacramento daily record-union. Library of Congress Historic Newspapers. January 13, 1880. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
  9. ^ "Democratic State Ticket". Los Angeles Herald (41). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 10 October 1882. p. 2. Retrieved 2017.
  10. ^ "Brief Notes". Sacramento Daily Union (54 (86)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 30 November 1885. p. 3. Retrieved 2017. Erskine M. Ross, of the Supreme Court, has made up his mind to resign, and will send his resignation to the Governor in a day or two, to take effect January 1, 1886.
  11. ^ "Judge Ross Resigns Again". Daily Alta California (41 (13469)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 13 July 1886. p. 5. Retrieved 2017. Governor Stoneman...says Ross is the great American resigner, this being the third resignation he has sent in.
  12. ^ "Ross and Brooks". Los Angeles Herald (26 (71)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 24 December 1886. p. 1. Retrieved 2017. Judge Ross resigned from the Supreme Court a short time ago, and resumed the practice of law as a partner of Hon. Stephen M. White.
  13. ^ "Judge Ross, Aged 70, 35 Years on Bench". Los Angeles Herald (210). California Digital Newspaper Collection. July 3, 2015. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ See Bruce I. Kogan, The Taxation of Prizes and Awards---Tax Policy Winners and Losers, 63 Wash. L. Rev. 257, 263 n. 40 (1988).
  15. ^ See McDermott v. Commissioner, 150 F.2d 585 (D.C. Cir. 1945).
  16. ^ See Kogan, supra, at footnote 77 and accompanying text.
  17. ^ "Michigan lawyer wins inaugural ABA Journal/Ross Contest for Short Fiction". ABA Journal. August 3, 2013. Retrieved 2017. The cash prize is made possible by a trust from the estate of Judge Erskine M. Ross of Los Angeles.
  18. ^ "Story of Our Founding o Alpha Tau Omega o America's Leadership Development Fraternity".
  19. ^ "Judge of the Circuit Court Takes a Bride, Erskine Mayo Ross Weds Mrs. Hancock". Los Angeles Herald (36 (244)). California Digital Newspaper Collection. 2 June 1909. Retrieved 2017.
  20. ^ General Society of Colonial Wars Index of Ancestors and Members (2011)
  21. ^ Register of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of California (2008), pgs.45,92.

Sources

External links

See also

Legal offices
Preceded by
Seat established
Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
1880-1887
Succeeded by
Jackson Temple
Preceded by
Seat established by 24 Stat. 308

1887-1895
Succeeded by
Olin Wellborn
Preceded by
Seat established by 28 Stat. 665

1895-1911
Succeeded by
Seat abolished
Preceded by
Seat established by 28 Stat. 665

1895-1925
Succeeded by
Wallace McCamant

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