ORAL HISTORY OF JUDGE CHARLES RICHEY
On behalf of the Oral History Project of the District of Columbia Circuit, the interviewee is District
Judge Charles Richey, the interviewer is Daniel Singer. This interview took place in the chambers
of Judge Richey in the United States Courthouse on April 10, 1995 beginning at approximately
4:00 PM. This is the first interview.
Mr. Singer: I have the tape recorder on, by the way.
Judge Richey: OK.
Mr. Singer: And this thing with the red had hat on, the microphone.
Judge Richey: I thought that on that subject you sent me that memo and I’ve only had
a chance to skim it, but it occurred to me, Dan, that the best way to do
it, since I had made a Deed of Gift to the University in my law school,
maybe we ought to make arrangements, subject to your approval and
Lou’s approval where there’d be a joint ownership and title to this. Do
you have any objection to that?
Mr. Singer: I have no objection to that whatever.
Judge Richey: That’s….I didn’t see that in the cursory glance of it.
Mr. Singer: I don’t think they tried to deal with anything other than the notion that
there should be some depository that there should be some way for
Judge Richey: Well, these diskettes and whatever we’re going to do here can be made
available in full fashion.
Mr. Singer: Actually, they can be copied. They’ll be transcribed in any event.
Judge Richey: Surely, you told me that.
Mr. Singer: And, that transcript will be available to you, I would hope actually
rather quickly so that you can have an opportunity while things are
reasonably fresh to say, “That’s not quite the slant I wanted to put on it”
and “really what I meant to say, and so on.” I’m sure you’ll
understand. But what I would like to do in our first interview is to try
and talk about those things that precede your public persona, really
going back as far as you care to go back into your boyhood in Logan
County in Ohio, what it was like during the time you were growing up
after all the time of enormous change within the country. I don’t know
whether your background is rural or urban. You surely have both in
Judge Richey: Logan County is an area that is mostly rural and I’ve only been there
once since I’ve been on the Court, and that was before my mother died,
to try to find the house in which I was born. And it was torn down.
That was in a little town called North Lewisburg, Ohio where my father
was the high school principal and basketball coach. And that is the
only memory I have of that little community. We did drive by the
school where Dad was principal and coach and it was a two-story
building and the weeds and trees were the size of the building. We
couldn’t find the house. Then they moved to Middleburg, Ohio,
where Dad did the same thing. Mother also taught, I don’t know what
she taught at the moment. And from there, at the age of whatever it
was when I started school in the first grade they moved to Delaware
which is a university college town.
Mr. Singer: Which university is that?
Judge Richey: Ohio Wesleyan.
Mr. Singer: That is where you ultimately went to?
Judge Richey: Because I had to because in those days they weren’t as advanced as they
became because professors’ kids could only go to the school where
their parents taught without paying tuition. They didn’t have
reciprocal arrangements in those days. So that was the only way I was
able to go to college.
Mr. Singer: And that tuition payment was of some importance to your family?
Judge Richey: Oh absolutely. My parents never owned a home. The only thing
they ever owned was the furniture in their house and an automobile,
period. That is all – dirt poor. I remember during the Depression
when my parents’ combined income was $70 a month, a month. That
is hard for my clerks and young people to understand but it’s the truth.
Mr. Singer: Something like what they are making per day. It is that kind of
change that I think would be of great interest – the changes over time.
But in order to lay the kind of foundation for that, did your parents
themselves grow up in Ohio?
Judge Richey: Yes. My father was one of five children, every one of whom became
teachers and, as a matter of act, my dad’s brother, who is now deceased,
became a principal of a major high school in Youngstown, Ohio which
is named after him. The others all became teachers as well. But that
was kind of the idea of the day. His father was a country doctor.
Mr. Singer: That would be your grandfather.
Judge Richey: My grandfather. And then my mother’s father was an engineer and
she had one sister and four children all of whom got advanced degrees.
But my mother and her sister also had advanced degrees, too.
Mr. Singer: Advanced degrees beyond the BA?
Judge Richey: Yes. And an engineer in those days was really something.
Particularly a person who got elected county engineer and did the land
surveying and that sort of thing. That was probably the most politically
powerful position in even a small county.
Mr. Singer: Why would that be?
Judge Richey: Be darned if I know. That is a good question. But I know that that
was correct. In those days you go in any courthouse they had the
biggest offices and the most people working for them. I guess maybe
it is partly because all the lands in that vast expanse of farm land hadn’t
been surveyed, I don’t know. I have no idea.
Singer: Were these partisan political positions?
Judge Richey: Yes. My mother’s father was a rabid Republican and so was her
mother. My dad’s father, the physician doctor, was a rabid Democrat.
Schizophrenic in a political sense.
Mr. Singer: But through the Depression years teachers remained employed.
Judge Richey: Generally speaking that’s right. There was a time when my dad was
without employment, a couple of years. But other than that they were
Mr. Singer: In the school system?
Judge Richey: Didn’t mean much, but they were employed. In terms of economics it
didn’t mean much.
Mr. Singer: Did you start work during this period?
Judge Richey: I certainly did. I must have begun work in seventh grade – about 1936
and I have essentially supported myself ever since, believe it or not.
Several years ago I called up Social Security. I’d be glad to share that
with you, it’s around some place. But, my goodness gracious the jobs
I held I’d forgotten about.
Mr. Singer: Perhaps in a later interview you could look at that and speak from it.
Judge Richey: I’d be delighted to share it with you. I could remember a lot of it. I
started selling Collier’s magazines, the American magazine. I
remember that was 50 cents. Boy, that was a big deal. This was a
little town called Delaware and I figured I could make more money by
selling the Cleveland Plain Dealer, which was kind of like the New
York Times living in Washington DC. And I got them to deliver by
bus at 5:30 in the morning to my town that paper and I walked eight
miles a day carrying that paper. In those days geography was a little
bit different than it is today in that, maybe geography isn’t quite the
right word, but there was a lot more snow in central Ohio than there is
now and I could remember my dad thinking that it was a good lesson in
teaching not to help a kid he had to learn to deal with adversity. So he
only helped me deliver those papers twice since I say I walked eight
miles a day with a school radio announcer from junior high school,
seventh grade clear to high school graduation.
Mr. Singer: You did this paper route with someone else? One of your friends?
Judge Richey: No, I did it all by myself. I also worked in a restaurant, this is a
morning paper and a magazine, but I also sold another newspaper, I
can’t even remember what it was, some evening newspaper. I worked
in two restaurants. By the time of high school I worked for a funeral
home which I continued to do throughout college. Then when I went
to law school I continued to work in a funeral home in Cleveland. I
had five jobs my first year in law school. Those days we went to law
school from 8:00 in the morning until, I think, 12:00. I had a job
waiting table at the undergraduate men’s school. I had a job as an
executive secretary to the University Center Board of Commerce,
which was headquartered around a 105th and Euclid where Bob Hope
got his start after coming over from England selling newspapers and all
the small merchants were on percentage leases. So I went around and
sold them on the idea that they would profit from central advertising in
one of the major papers in Cleveland called the Cleveland Press at the
time. And developed a logo in the center of the page that would
enhance their business. It is all a rubble today. But we had a couple
of department stores. I did that in the afternoon. In the evening, I
got my meal by waiting table at the undergraduate women’s dormitory.
Then I worked in the funeral home at night. I didn’t get home until
Mr. Singer: Where were you living?
Judge Richey: Lived in a rooming house. All students lived in rooming houses in
Mr. Singer: The family was still in Delaware and you and they went to Cleveland.
Judge Richey: Yeah. 150 miles north which is long ways off, but that’s what you
do… what I did.
Mr. Singer: Is the name Richey or “Rishay” – where does that name come from?
Judge Richey: I’m really not very good at that. I don’t know. I think my dad told
me one time it was Irish and Scotch. I don’t know whether that is
correct or not. I have no idea.
Mr. Singer: As far as you know your parents and their parents and their parents
were centered in Ohio for as long as anybody can remember?
Judge Richey: As far as I know, yes. Some lawyer here at Crowell & Moring sent
me a little piece from the Delaware, Ohio Historical Society.
Apparently the Richeys at least were from pretty good stock around
there. I know my mother’s side over in the adjoining county were
from good stock, too. Well educated, highly political in both sides.
You kind of think they would be on the reverse side but they weren’t.
But because of the Depression that is all that people talked about was
politics in those days. Who’s going to be the next congressman, who
is going to be the next governor, who is going to be the next senator?
Mr. Singer: When you say in those days.
Judge Richey: When I was a little kid in the elementary grades.
Mr. Singer: This is the 1930’s?
Judge Richey: Yes and you would go to one grandparent one Sunday and the other the
next Sunday. And that was the only recreation we got. My mother’s
parents were very, very strict, particularly her mother.
Mr. Singer: Was it a religious kind of…
Judge Richey: Oh, yeah. Yeah. They were strict Methodists. And young people
were not allowed to speak, they were only to listen, spoke when asked
and you just had to sit in the corner of the living room after dinner and
listen. I remember one time my dad took me out in the backyard to
play catch with me and he was in the dog house with his in-laws and so
was I. That was a terrible thing to do.
Mr. Singer: What would have provoked his being in the dog house?
Judge Richey: Well, you’re not supposed to do that on Sundays, you see, the Sabbath,
you see. You’d go to Sunday school, church, eat, talk or I mean listen
and then some kind of young people’s organization Epworth League or
something like that in the evenings. I resented it. It turned me off on
Mr. Singer: But religion then played a significant role in your life?
Judge Richey: Not in my life, no. I guess it did in my parents. But not in me. I
didn’t like it.
Mr. Singer: Was there discussion of national politics as well?
Judge Richey: Oh yes, yes. Very much so. And the way people advertised in the…
they’d have radios in those days… they had newspapers. But…
Mr. Singer: They had lots of newspapers.
Judge Richey: The way people would campaign they’d put the picture of their
candidate in the living room window so people walking up and down
the street would see it; they’d advertise it. I could see Herbert Hoover
and Roosevelt’s pictures in the living room of my grandparents homes
yet, and hearing them talk about it.
Mr. Singer: By and large your mother’s family were Roosevelt people?
Judge Richey: No, the other way around, Republicans. And my dad’s family were
Democrats. And I started out as a Democrat and cast my first vote for
FDR. As a matter of fact, I was 20 years old at the time but old
enough to vote under the Ohio election law. They made me acting
Democratic County Chairman. And I reduced the Republican margin
in that county from 15-1 to either 7 or 8-1. I got reams of publicity;
that was quite an accomplishment.
Mr. Singer: It sounds like it was a great accomplishment. When did you start in
Judge Richey: Well, in 1941 and I thought I was pretty well cheated because I didn’t
get to go away to school.
Mr. Singer: Were there other places that you knew of that were interesting to you?
Judge Richey: Well, in a sense. I didn’t know much about any other school in the
country because every meal you talked about who was going to be head
of the English Department or Geography or who was going to be the
new president or what this board member’s particular agenda was and
Mr. Singer: All in respect to Ohio Wesleyan.
Judge Richey: Yes. In those days, well, a few years… ten years before that Ohio
Wesleyan was quite an athletic force. They used to play Pittsburgh,
Michigan, Ohio State and so on. I remember there was a shoe shine
person on the main street there; he had pictures like I do of all the
athletes, football players, basketball players and going into barber
shops and places like that, that is all they talked about. The whole
focus was on the university in that little community. They had a
couple of small manufacturing facilities like a stove company, a chair
company, but college and university was the focus. So I didn’t know a
heck of a lot about other schools.
Mr. Singer: Had you traveled at all or had the opportunity to travel?
Judge Richey: Oh goodness, no. There wasn’t any money, Dan. First of all, when
my parents would drive to get peaches. When do you get peaches, in
the fall? I guess you go out and pick peaches in the fall and then go
up to Lake Erie. That would be a one day drive. I couldn’t go
because in those days you had to collect for your papers. You’d start
at 8:00 in the morning and work all day walking all over town.
Mr. Singer: Did you participate… you said your father was the basketball coach?
Judge Richey: Yeah. Yeah.
Mr. Singer: Were you an athlete in those days?
Judge Richey: No, no, no. I never had time to be an athlete. I was a debater, orator
that sort of thing. But, I didn’t have time to be an athlete. Wasn’t
good enough either. Not really, didn’t have time.
Mr. Singer: When you started in college, in the fall of ’41, what were you aiming
for anything other than ultimately to get out of college?
Judge Richey: That’s a fair and reasonable question. Because of the abject poverty
and the narrow focus of the politics of higher academics of that one
university, pretty internecine to be honest with you, I determined that I
was going to do everything I could to get out of there and as quickly as
possible. I loved college after the first few weeks I forgot that my
parents were associated with the university and we didn’t cross paths
much. And as I look back on it, that little community was a
marvelous place to grow up and to be reared in because it was 40%
Mr. Singer: Which minority? Black?
Judge Richey: Black. A small percentage of Jews, mostly merchants and landowners
but mostly merchants. And I never heard until I went to law school,
believe it or not, an anti-Black remark, or an anti-Semitic remark. Not
once. Didn’t know that it exists. Now, there was another 40% that
were Roman Catholics and they had migrated to that community to
work on what was known as the Big Four Railroad. And they were
over on the other side of town, I guess the east side, yes, east. And
occasionally you’d hear some anti-Catholic remark.
Mr. Singer: That would have been from within the group that you spent most of
Judge Richey: Not my friends but I knew it existed. There was an element of
anti-Catholicism. The way I learned it was when I was working for
the funeral home and the one I worked for there were, I think, four in
the town. And they got their business through the churches. One
was a big Presbyterian, one was a big Methodist, one was a Roman
Catholic, and, therefore, we got all the Roman Catholic business and
that’s where I learned about some of the anti-Catholicism, I think.
Certainly never heard it at my home; there was one thing about my
parents they taught tolerance in every respect. That’s ingrained in me
from my earliest days. You were never to talk about race, ethnicity or
even politics and use that against anybody. You were to judge people
by their conduct not by who they were. It was kind of curious just a
few years ago my friend Ab Mikva who is now counsel to the
President, wrote an opinion reversing Judge Gasch in a case, and he sat
down the hall. He said that very thing that I’d heard a hundred times
from my dad. I twitted Ab about it; that it wasn’t original. He said
we judge people by their conduct not by who they are. That is exactly
what my parents said, I’ve heard that a million times. I really believe
that to the bottom of my bones.
Mr. Singer: It sounds like they were an extraordinarily religious.
Judge Richey: They were. I wasn’t. They mistakenly, without any intention, forced it
on us or tried to. I just rebelled.
Mr. Singer: You just said no.
Judge Richey: Yeah. That’s it. I did, I rebelled by refusing to go to church as soon
as I got old enough, what today you would call middle school I just
wouldn’t do it.
Mr. Singer: You were pretty young. I mean at that point you were what, thirteen,
fourteen years old?
Judge Richey: I wouldn’t go, didn’t like it and wouldn’t have anything to do with it.
Mr. Singer: I’m tempted to ask how your parents reacted to that.
Judge Richey: Oh, you can ask anything you want. Oh, they didn’t like that but they
didn’t punish me for it. I knew they didn’t like it but they didn’t punish
Mr. Singer: Did the family as a unit… I didn’t ask you whether you had siblings.
Judge Richey: No, I was the only child unfortunately. Only child. I had cousins.
Mr. Singer: But there was a group of people in the Richey family and your …then
your mother’s family that were close?
Judge Richey: Oh, yes, very close in spite of their divergent views about politics they
were very close friends.
Mr. Singer: Were there family celebrations?
Judge Richey: Oh, yes all the time and family reunions and all that business. Picnics,
that sort of things. I think African-American people are about the
only ones I know of today that do that.
Mr. Singer: That’s the kind of thing many of us have forgotten how to do.
Judge Richey: I wouldn’t know how to do it today nor would I care. But I do care
about my friends. But I wouldn’t want to go to a reunion of my
Mr. Singer: But Christmas was celebrated, and Thanksgiving and both secular
holidays and religious holidays as well.
Judge Richey: I guess they were they didn’t mean much to me. One thing, they didn’t
have any money to buy presents. What they’d do is go to the coach
and get a basketball that was no good anymore and that would be my
Christmas present. That sort of thing. One time I got a, what do you
call things on Christmas trees, one of those things in my eye and that
scared my parents so we never had a real Christmas tree thereafter. At
a very young age. There was always something they folded up and
put in the attic. I remember that. I didn’t care for that kind of stuff.
Mr. Singer: What about the public communal celebrations of Decoration Day.
Where they called then Decoration and Memorial Day, or July 4th
celebrations that certainly weren’t religious, weren’t family celebrations
but were communal events.
Judge Richey: Unless it had something to do with the university like an opera or a
play, I didn’t pay much attention to that.
Mr. Singer: Did you take an interest in the arts that were going on and made
available through the university?
Judge Richey: A little bit, but… You probably don’t understand, I don’t know how old
you are, Dan, but…
Mr. Singer: I’m seven years younger than you are.
Judge Richey: That makes a difference. It makes a whale of a difference. Because
during the time that I was growing up the Depression was so terrible I
can see grown men eight feet deep two and a half long city blocks,
twice as long as this block in the court house, crying like babies when
Roosevelt closed the banks because they couldn’t get their money out.
Mr. Singer: You were ten years old then.
Judge Richey: That’s right and I can still remember it. Still remember it. So, when
you see things like that, it inevitably leads to an indelible impression
and so we talk about going to the Kennedy Center and seeing the opera
and the ballet or something, to me I can say what difference does it
make? Does that really advance your knowledge or your ability to get
forward and help humankind? And to me it didn’t. It had no
relevance – none. It was no way of getting out of that community and
extricating myself from the intellectual poverty that was extant there.
So I try to repress it. I don’t even want to think about it.
Mr. Singer: I’m sorry to put you in that pain…
Judge Richey: No. No. It’s the truth and that seven-year difference in our age
makes… it is an important difference. Because you saw all of that
going up around you. I remember my folks drove down and we
watched the people trying to get in the banks and you know what you’d
do on Saturday night for recreation? Drive downtown, six, seven,
eight year old kid on the main street. An uncle of mine, as far as I
know a successful farmer, was a director of one of the local banks, and
ice cream cones were 5 cents. They would get me an ice cream cone,
sit there and talk about their usual things and I would sit in the back
seat and just watch people walk up and down the street. Kind of a
parade on Saturday night.
Mr. Singer: Were things getting better by the time you went to college?
Judge Richey: A little bit but not a hell of a lot. The War soon came on in December
and I remember going in a fraternity house. I think December 7 was
on a Sunday.
Mr. Singer: It was indeed. I remember that.
Judge Richey: And some fellow was sitting in front of the fireplace and said “Pearl
Harbor was just attacked.” I said, “Where the heck is that and by
whom?” and he said, “The Japanese.” I barely knew we were at war
at that point. I’m not sure many others did either except in the
sophisticated areas of say, New York, Washington, etc. Well, that is
the answer to that question.
Mr. Singer: You went to college in 1941 and your degree is in ’45?
Judge Richey: Yes, but I didn’t stay there until 1945. I left in early 1944 because I
went in the summer time and I had 7 hours necessary to get a degree
before I left. But I left to go in the Army Corps of Engineers without
getting a degree it was a terrible distress to my parents because I had a
Mr. Singer: Why would you have had a deferment?
Judge Richey: I was born with a leg one-half inch shorter than the other. It was a
kind of temporary deferment and my folks thought I should finish
school but I decided I wanted to be a lawyer and that I needed some
money to go to law school and so this was one means of doing it. In
those days you could transfer back depending upon your academic
achievements and average your first semester in law school or first year
for that matter. So, after the first half year in law school I got my
degree in the mail. I haven’t graduated from anything since high
school in a formal academic procession or setting.
Mr. Singer: That’s really interesting. And you went essentially directly from the
Corps… What did you do in the Corps of Engineers?
Judge Richey: Nothing really. I was a procurement analyst for a half a year. The
other half of the year I became a contract personnel specialist that did
grade classification for civilians and never got any further than Fort
Hays in Columbus, Ohio, 23 miles south. And commuted most of the
time from Delaware to Columbus. That was my service. And then
when that was over, I went up to Cleveland to go to law school.
Mr. Singer: And Cleveland is how far from Delaware?
Judge Richey: About 150 miles. Delaware is the exact center of the state. The
birth place of Rutherford B. Hayes. Most people think he was born in
Freemont, Ohio but he was born there and, you know, the place where
he was born has a filling station on it and there is just a little plaque,
flag up above it saying birthplace of Rutherford B. Hayes, Governor of
Ohio, x years, President of the United States, x years. But he was the
father of the indeterminate sentence.
Mr. Singer: That I didn’t know. I guess that very few…In his capacity as…
Judge Richey: As Governor of Ohio. He called the first National Prison Conference
in Cincinnati. He was a famous man. I learned this from Jim
Bennett’s book. I don’t know whether you knew Jim Bennett or not…
Mr. Singer: I didn’t know… I know certainly who he was, but I didn’t know…
Judge Richey: Great mind, great man. And it says in his book, I Chose Prison.
And, in that, he tells about that first National Prison Conference to do
something about sentencing to bring it back to what the founders of this
Mr. Singer: About when was that? Did that conference take place? Do you
Judge Richey: No, I don’t know.
Mr. Singer: Before or after…
Judge Richey: When he was governor, whenever that was. And, there was a famous
prison administrator from Detroit named Zebulon Brockway, sounds
like a name about that generation, and he offered a resolution calling
for an indeterminate sentence which meant that if you behaved yourself
in prison and “rehabilitated yourself” you would get out sooner.
That’s what we had until 1984 when the Congress changed the
Mr. Singer: We’ll get to that. I would guess that you have very well-developed
views on matters relating to sentencing. Staying in the immediate
post-war period, were your parents, I assume they are no longer living,
but, did they live through?
Judge Richey: Yes, they both are deceased. My dad only lived until 61 years old and
he died of Parkinson’s disease. My mother lived to be 88 and she died
essentially of old age. She had some cancer and the usual things but
just essentially of old age.
Mr. Singer: Did you enjoy going to law school?
Judge Richey: No, I hated it.
Mr. Singer: Why is the obvious next question.
Judge Richey: Sure, it’s an obvious question. I hated law school because I had to
work in order to eat and stay there. Tuition was only, I think, $150 a
semester. And after the first year I got a scholarship so I didn’t have to
pay tuition but it was expensive to live and buy books.
Mr. Singer: You’re now living in Cleveland?
Judge Richey: Right. Yes. Yes. And, those were tough days. You go to school
in the morning, work until midnight and then try to study.
Mr. Singer: What kinds of jobs did you have?
Judge Richey: Well, I told you of three of them…four of them. I waited table at noon
for my lunch at the boys’ undergraduate men’s school; worked at the
University Center Board of Commerce which I organized; lobbied
Monday night in the City Council for their interests. They gave me a
telephone, too. I had a telephone in my room. Then I came back,
waited table at the undergraduate girls’ school, Forest Stone Manor;
then went to the funeral home until midnight.
Mr. Singer: See, those were not college jobs. Those were law school jobs. I see.
Judge Richey: And then on Saturdays I was a guard at the Carnegie Medical Library,
which had a lot of rare books — the only job in my life I was ever fired
from, but in the spring of that first year you sat on a straight back chair
which was uncomfortable as heck at the door to check people out with
their books and I went to sleep sitting straight up and I got fired.
Mr. Singer: Something must have been driving you.
Judge Richey: Well, of course. It was driving me. I wanted to get through. After
the first semester I had saved enough money to buy books but they
were expensive and, nevertheless, there were many courses I didn’t
even have the money to buy the books. And it was the first
post-World War II class after World War II in October of 1945, but
God, many people were in uniform, still hadn’t had time to get civilian
clothes, the law schools all over the United States didn’t have their
faculty back in many instances. It was a horrendous mess. Of
course, working as hard as I had to my competitors and good friends
would go have a leisurely lunch, stay in the library until 10:30 or 11:00,
however late it was open, (not open all night like some of them are
today) and go to school the next morning. I couldn’t do that. And
so, I had to crib, you know. But, it wasn’t that difficult for me. In
Criminal Law for example I never went to one class. It is a shame, I
hate to admit this, but it is an absolute fact. I never went to one class
and didn’t own a book, I stayed up all night the night before the exam
and got a B+ by reading two student college friends’ notes.
Mr. Singer: Are these men still your friends?
Judge Richey: One is deceased but the then young woman is still alive. She was
married to a very successful communications lawyer with Baker
Hostetler. She’s still alive.
Mr. Singer: Baker Hostetler…
Judge Richey: It was then called Baker Hostetler and Patterson. I saw her a few
years ago at some law school function but her name was Betty Ann
Meyers in those days, Reeskin now. In any event, I didn’t like law
school but I made some wonderful friends. It’s amazing, I think six of
them became judges. One on the Sixth Circuit.
Mr. Singer: Who’s that?
Judge Richey: Bob Krupansky. Three on the District Court for the Northern District
of Ohio, one Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, a woman – Bob
Krupansky’s sister, Blanche, other lower court judges in the state court
system. Quite a few.
Mr. Singer: Let me make an observation, which is something I’m not supposed to
do generally, but it is an interesting train of thought that gets suggested.
You’ve mentioned each time when it became appropriate that you were
either associated professionally with women or, in the case of your
mother, she was herself a professional. That was hardly common.
Indeed, one would have to suggest it was very uncommon in the late
30’s through much later.
Judge Richey: You couldn’t be more right.
Mr. Singer: And it continues because something we will get to is your decision to
come to Washington and work for a distinguished Congresswoman
from Ohio. So let’s kind of put that in the…
Judge Richey: What influences have women had on my life?
Mr. Singer: No. You’re clearly able to, and in your own right in the issue of
discrimination, to deal with these kinds of issues that arise out of a
professional equality or parity with great ease and confidence and
Judge Richey: Correct.
Mr. Singer: Yeah. But most unusual. Certainly in your times and indeed in my
Judge Richey: Well, you’ve forgotten something. You’ve forgotten Franklin D.
Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt. And there was a man in New
York, I forget the exact title he had, but he operated out of New York
City named Sidney Hillman. When I was a young man I heard about
Congressional pages and I thought that that would be a way for me to
go to law school or maybe even college. So as a young Democrat, I
found out who the chairman of the patronage committee was in the
House of Representatives, I wrote letter after letter after letter, never
got an answer. The man’s name was Andrew May of Kentucky, later
went to jail for contract fraud or something. Sidney Hillman of New
York was the only one who would answer my letters.
Mr. Singer: He wasn’t a Congressman.
Judge Richey: No. But he was a political director of the labor movement.
Mr. Singer: Absolutely correct.
Judge Richey: I don’t know whether I still have any of those letters or not, but he used
to send me booklets, pamphlets on how to organize political stuff,
campaigns, literature. I don’t know whether he wrote them or not but
he must have had a heck of a staff if he didn’t. They looked like they
were personal. I’ll never forget him. He had a big influence on my
Mr. Singer: Did you ever meet him?
Judge Richey: Never got to meet him.
Mr. Singer: He plays a role in the McCullough biography of Truman.
Judge Richey: Is that so?
Mr. Singer: Yes, because…
Judge Richey: Well, I have that book. The trouble is, my wife has taken forever to
read it. She has had it for a year and a half.
Mr. Singer: It will take forever to read it. But, I’m now half way through and it
returns great returns for the effort involved in reading it. Without
question. But, in it, if I recall correctly, is a discussion of how
Truman got the Vice Presidential nomination for the campaign in ’44
which, if I recall correctly, gave rise to how they worked out these
elaborate politics of the selection of the Vice President for Roosevelt’s
fourth term and the catch phrase was Roosevelt saying to his own
immediate political family who were bothering him about the selection
of the Vice Presidency, “whatever it is, clear it with Sidney” meaning…
Judge Richey: Sidney Hillman.
Mr. Singer: Sidney Hillman. And if it’s OK…
Judge Richey: That’s right, I’d forgotten that!! You’re absolutely right!! “Clear it
Mr. Singer: “Clear it with Sidney” was with the labor movement.
Judge Richey: Exactly.
Mr. Singer: We got to get somebody, we the Democrats then, who will bring the
labor movement; solidify the support in the Labor movement.
Judge Richey: That’s exactly right. I’d forgotten it. You couldn’t be more right. I
Mr. Singer: That’s the same Sidney Hillman. And I think it was either the
Amalgamated Clothing Workers or the Ladies Garment Workers.
Judge Richey: Garment workers. Garment workers.
Mr. Singer: They came out of…
Judge Richey: He did.
Mr. Singer: Which was…
Judge Richey: Fascinating.
Mr. Singer: That’s my history.
Judge Richey: That’s right. You’re absolutely correct. Wallace was his… Truman’s
opponent from Iowa, Geneticist. Henry Wallace came to my college
campus in about 1943 or ’42 before I left and made one of the most
famous speeches of all time entitled “The Century of the Common
Man”. I have it some place among my papers at home. But it is a
great, great speech. In my home community there weren’t any
Democrats. It is reversed today. But on that campus there must
have been 5 maybe 2 or 3 Democrat members of the faculty. All the
rest were Republicans. Just the opposite today. If they got any
Republicans they would be lucky, I guess. I mean, you know, they
would be lucky to find a Republican. Just the opposite in those days.
But my mother, who was in the President’s office, and she was close to
the President, she got an audience with the Democratic County
Chairman, he brought me along and I got to meet the Vice President,
Henry A. Wallace, who was Truman’s opponent in that election and he
made a big fight about it. I think Truman later appointed him
Secretary of Commerce, though.
Mr. Singer: I think that’s true and then he, of course, ran against… he was one of
four candidates in 1948.
Judge Richey: That’s correct. Didn’t he run with Glenn Taylor?
Mr. Singer: Idaho. Guitar player from Idaho. That was the…
Judge Richey: It was Wallace and Taylor. One ticket, the Progressive Party or
something like that.
Mr. Singer: And the American Labor Party supported them.
Judge Richey: They did. And then you had Strom Thurmond and I don’t know who
ran with him.
Mr. Singer: I don’t have any recollection of who ran with him.
Judge Richey: I don’t either.
Mr. Singer: But it was Dewey and
Judge Richey: And Warren.
Mr. Singer: Right. And then Truman and Barkley.
Judge Richey: Truman and Alban Barkley. That’s right. 29,000 votes would have
thrown that election in the House of Representatives. Can you believe
Mr. Singer: I can believe it. Yes. I remember the cliff-hanger. I remember the
headlines the next day in the…
Judge Richey: Chicago Tribune.
Mr. Singer: Those were heady times. I was in college at that point.
Judge Richey: Were ya?
Mr. Singer: It was the last election in which I didn’t vote.
Judge Richey: Is that right?
Mr. Singer: Yeah. Because I was not yet twenty… when I voted. I cast my first
presidential ballot for Stevenson.
Judge Richey: I voted for Adlai Stevenson twice because I did not like Eisenhower.
Couldn’t stand him. Admired him…
Mr. Singer: Why?
Judge Richey: Why? Because I didn’t think a military person should be president of
the United States. It was inconsistent with my view of the
Constitution. Right or wrong that was my view. I thought Robert A.
Taft was one of the greatest men I’d ever known. And, goodness
gracious, I was just a young kid, wet under the ears even though I was
just out of law school.
Mr. Singer: But by that time you were…
Judge Richey: Here in Washington with Mrs. Bolton, and she was from Ohio and Taft
was from Ohio and everybody was for Taft from the political
establishment, so to speak. But I got on my own to know him and he
impressed the heck out of me in the terms of his honesty and his
intellect. The only thing I ever disagreed with him about was his
position on the Nuremberg Trials.
Mr. Singer: I don’t remember that.
Judge Richey: Well, he took a position that that was unconstitutional and therefore
should be opposed. And I was one of 26 people who sat in his office
with a fellow named Isaac Jack Martin who was his long time
administrative assistant and principal aide.
Mr. Singer: Do you think that Justice Jackson’s appearance was…
Judge Richey: Oh, this was before Jackson. See, legislation had to be, or a treaty or
something has to be approved in the Senate in order for that to take
place and he opposed it at that time. He was running for president
again and as I say I was one of 26 people in his office sitting in the
back of the room, all of his advisors saying “Senator you can’t be
president you are going to lose the Jewish vote.” I remember very
distinctly and clearly I’d rather be right than president. And I also
remember another time a year or so later I was in the Senate Dining
Room with old Alex Wiley who was chairman of the Finance
Committee (three term Senator from Wisconsin) and old Andy
Schoeppel who had been President of the American Legion from
Kansas came up to him and said “Alex, you got to get out of here.
Bob Taft just took the floor”. And, Dan, within less than 60 seconds
there wasn’t anybody in the whole Senate Dining Room. They were
all upstairs. When Taft spoke people listened. He’s the only U.S.
Senator that has a memorial erected to his memory on the capital
grounds. People don’t know that. It’s right up the street here.
Mr. Singer: It’s that lovely Bell Tower.
Judge Richey: Yeah. People don’t know that. It’s written up in John F. Kennedy…
Mr. Singer: People know it.
Judge Richey: Well, not very many. I love to drive by there with prominent people
and they don’t even know what it is.
Mr. Singer: Let’s get back to law school, I mean, eventually obviously you suffered
Judge Richey: I liked the law but I didn’t like law school. It was kind of like college.
I didn’t like things unless I had some capacity to see how it was going
to be relevant to making a living. That was my primary focus.
When I was in college, let me tell you a story. In my day you had to
take the humanities which meant the Iliad and the Odyssey, nine hours
of hard sciences.
Which hard sciences did you do?
Judge Richey: I took a course called Chemistry in the Modern World which I hated
with a passion, Geography in the Modern World, I don’t know what the
other one was. You had to take an Art Appreciation, Music
Appreciation, all this kind of stuff. Well, when I became a junior I
decided without my parents’ knowledge I was going to file a petition
with the Registrar of the University to get out of a lot of this stuff such
as Music Appreciation, three hours of Science so forth I don’t know
what all they were, including Humanities, because that had no
relevance to making a living. And I proposed alternatives of other
things that I would like to do that I thought I was good at and would
help me. And you know what, they called me in and granted it. It
had never been done before and I betcha, ‘course they’ve modified it,
Mr. Singer: Have you though back as to…
Judge Richey: That was the first time that I knew I was going to be a lawyer, I knew
somehow or other I would make it as a lawyer. That was totally
against the grain.
Mr. Singer: Do you ever look back at that and say how could have done such a
thing? What is it that gave the confidence, the brass, the whatever, to
go up against this institution which in a way clearly was very important
to you, your family and you are not quite thumbing your nose at it but
you are certainly challenging a kind of root concept.
Judge Richey: You could not be more right. You couldn’t be more right, you must
have been one whale of a lawyer. I did. I don’t know how to explain
it except I wanted to do things that I felt would extricate myself from
the abject poverty and would enable myself to get where I wanted to
get. If you look back on the history of all the people who have been
successful in public life, most have had (a) good health, (b) tremendous
drive, (3) a pretty high level of intelligence. And I’ve had all three of
Mr. Singer: But, what passes in the phrase, “Type A”?
Judge Richey: I guess. I guess.
Mr. Singer: Did you have a chance for any kind of social life during this period?
Judge Richey: I did in college a little bit.
Mr. Singer: And you said you were a member of a fraternity.
Judge Richey: Yes, I was. Everybody did in those days. But I was a maverick
there, too. You know, they ran the school, well, when I was a
freshman they had airplanes and major national dance bands come to
the university to hold teas for candidate for president of the student
party and they would all be fraternity men. Well, I was persuasive
and able to get my fraternity to endorse an independent and you know
what? We won!
Mr. Singer: By independent you mean not a member of a fraternity.
Judge Richey: Right. And boy, that caused a whale of a stink! But you know
what? We won. The poor guy died in the Korean War but he was a
son of a missionary. I wrote his speech. I’ll never forget it in front of
the whole student body in those days you had compulsory chapel every
Mr. Singer: That must have been a real strain.
Judge Richey: It was for me. But they did have outstanding speakers of national
stature. I wrote his speech and he was kind of a sullen sort of a guy.
Bill Shaw was his name I’ll never forget him. He was very sullen and
the first line of his speech was, “Who said Bill Shaw couldn’t smile?”
and he grins. It just broke the place right open.
Mr. Singer: And how was his reign as president of the student body?
Judge Richey: Superb. Superb. Superb.
Mr. Singer: How fortunate for you having gone way out on this limb.
Judge Richey: Superb. Superb. Superb. I did the same thing in law school.
Hell, I helped integrate Phi Delta Phi, the law fraternity.
Mr. Singer: What were you integrating? I mean, at that point?
Judge Richey: The law fraternity in law school.
Mr. Singer: I know but…
Judge Richey: They didn’t have any African-Americans, or anything. I did that.
Later helped them get my college fraternity to take Blacks, Jews.
Mr. Singer: Good. I remember when I was in college which was when you were
in law school, the issue was, I remember at Amherst, was the
integration of one of the undergraduate fraternities and the issue filtered
onto a lot of other campuses. This was now racial integration.
Judge Richey: That’s right. It was. Yeah. I helped take the Phi Gamma Delta
chapter away from Amherst and drove up there to get the ritual
materials from Amherst Phi Gamma Delta House at Amherst College
which Calvin Coolidge belonged to because it refused to accept a
Black. I did. That was in the ’50s. I did it in Phi Delta Phi we got
women in there. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?
Mr. Singer: If you think about it in terms of the exercise we’re going with, to try to
find out what…
Judge Richey: What motivated me to do all this? Because it was right.
Mr. Singer: Yeah. But that didn’t just… You just didn’t wake up one morning
Judge Richey: I can’t explain it except that… Like, yes, well, I don’t know. I can’t
offer an explanation. It’s just the right thing to do. My parents
taught tolerance and my grandparents believed in tolerance. My
grandparents on my mother’s side didn’t like Democrats but it was not
an intolerant dislike.
Mr. Singer: They were wrong. Misguided.
Judge Richey: Yeah, they were wrong. The other way around too. They didn’t like
Mr. Singer: They weren’t immoral. They were just misguided.
Judge Richey: Yeah. The other way around too. They were misguided too. When
I came to Washington I had this friend of mine, Ollie Bolton, who later
came to Congress with his mother, asked me what I was going to do
and I said I was going to go with a firm downtown in Cleveland – a big
Mr. Singer: Can you put that in a time frame at this point?
Judge Richey: This is late 1944 — I mean 1947.
Mr. Singer: Right. OK. In the beginning of your time when you were in law
Judge Richey: And he said, “Well, how would you like to go down to Washington
with my mother. She’s looking for a young lawyer to be her
legislative counsel. I said, “Well, Ollie that would be very nice but
your mother is a Republican and I’m a Democrat.” And he says, “Aw,
Chuck that wouldn’t make any difference at all. The only thing you
would have to do is change your party registration but I can assure you
wouldn’t have to change your principles because everybody around
here knows you are a man of principle.” I thought about it for about
24 hours and said I’d do it. Best decision I ever made. I got here and
I was so glad and grateful for having made that decision, not because I
got to come to Washington which I’d wanted to do since I was a kid.
Mr. Singer: You’d never had the opportunity to visit here.
Judge Richey: Five years old my parents were able to scrape enough money somehow
or other to…
Mr. Singer: Those were your good days. I mean those were your good times. In
1928. That was before the bad times.
Judge Richey: Right. In any event, all the committees were dominated by the
Southern Democrats. Don’t forget John Rankin was in his heyday,
Senator Bilbo of Mississippi, Russell of Georgia, George of Georgia,
Hoey of North Carolina, Harry Byrd of Virginia, I could go on, I don’t
know, who the two Senators were before Bobby Byrd of West Virginia.
But my goodness gracious, it was the worst awful time. Matter of
fact, we kids used to go to the House as the clock struck 12 every noon
to hear John Rankin and Vito Marcantonio debate. They each had
three minutes. That is the way the House of Representatives opened
in the second session of the 80th Congress every day. I’ll never forget
Marcantonio saying “If the gentleman from Mississippi doesn’t get off
my back, I shall go to his district in Mississippi in the next campaign
and I shall campaign for him.” I can hear it yet.
Mr. Singer: That’s wonderful. That’s really wonderful. But you must have had a
relationship with the Bolton family in some sense.
Judge Richey: Her son. Her son, Ollie was a classmate. And, Mardelle and I
thought we were going to make him president.
Mr. Singer: Now Mardelle is in the picture at this point?
Judge Richey: No. No. No. She was after I got to Washington. But not until I came
to Washington. I met her on the Hill. She worked for Bill Stratton.
Mr. Singer: From Pennsylvania?
Judge Richey: Illinois. He became governor.
Mr. Singer: Right.
Judge Richey: He was a Congressman-at-large. And, my law school roommate had
a high school friend from Gary, Indiana who worked for Ray Madden
who was the ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee and he called
her up and introduced me by telephone the night before I left.
Mr. Singer: To take the job?
Judge Richey: No, just to introduce me to some woman. I could have cared less.
But, in any event, soon thereafter, she and three roommates invited me
to their apartment…
Mr. Singer: Now you’re not talking about Mardelle.
Judge Richey: No. Well, this is leading up to Mardelle. And so I went to this
lovely dinner and I was so goddam gung-ho in trying to earn a living
and get started I could have cared less about anything except work.
But, about two months went by and I decided there was elemental
politeness and decency and I ought to call Shirley and ask her to go to
dinner or something even though I only earned a gross of $300 a month
and so I did and she said she had something else to do and couldn’t do
it but she had a friend and it turned out to be Mardelle. So that’s how
I met my wife.
Mr. Singer: Wonderful, wonderful accidents.
Judge Richey: We finished 45 years of marriage March 25, just a few weeks ago. 45
years. That’s a long time!
Mr. Singer: I can relate to that because I’ve been married… it will be in June it will
be 43 years.
Judge Richey: Good. Bless your heart, Dan! Well, you’re already my friend.
Mr. Singer: I’m one of a monogamous generation. With stability somehow built
in in many of those relationships. Basically, the first job you ever had
as a lawyer, then, was with Congresswoman Bolton. You couldn’t
have known very much with all due respect.
Judge Richey: I didn’t know a darn thing. Even though she called me in after I got
here she told me you go over there to the Dodge Hotel and get a room
and see me in 45 minutes in the office.
Mr. Singer: She had been a Congresswoman for how long at that point.
Judge Richey: Oh, at least 20 years by that time and her husband 20 years before that.
She served a total of 39 years. Ollie, I think, served 3 terms.
Mr. Singer: That’s her son.
Judge Richey: Right.
Mr. Singer: They were a dynasty.
Judge Richey: Yeah. The only mother and son team to ever in history serve in the
House of Representatives together. She was the ranking person on the
Foreign Affairs Committee. Very prominent… well, the ten wealthiest
people in the United States. I was never on the government payroll; I
was on her personal payroll.
Mr. Singer: That’s interesting. What was the source of the wealth?
Judge Richey: I think there was a hardware company called Paine Webber out of New
York, Buffalo or someplace.
Mr. Singer: That’s a brokerage house. Paine Webber.
Judge Richey: Well, Paine Webber. But, no, Payne. It was the Frances Payne
Bolton. The Payne for hardware people, I think. Don’t hold me to
Mr. Singer: Paynes and Whitneys and it’s a good old….
Judge Richey: They had lots of money. I mean she had a big home in Maine, Palm
Beach, next to the Kennedy estate, and Palm Beach, Florida. She had
a big home on Wyoming Avenue here in Washington and one in
Cleveland. They had enormous, enormous wealth.
Mr. Singer: And Bolton was…
Judge Richey: I don’t know where Chester, her husband, got his money but he wasn’t
poor either – they were very wealthy people. And like the Kennedys,
they never had a dime in their pocket. I’ll never forget one time she
said she was going to take me to dinner. We went to a restaurant
called the Ugly Duckling where I met all of Lyndon Johnson’s people
because they used to frequent that place. Like Walter Jenkins and the
others who followed him to the House, the Senate and the White
House. But we went to dinner and came time to pay the bill and she
didn’t have a cent. She said, “I’ll reimburse you in the morning.” But,
she never did. I never got it. But that’s all right. You know those
Mr. Singer: I have a partner whose name is Shriver who absolutely fits that bill
Judge Richey: Is that right? Is he very wealthy too?
Mr. Singer: Shriver, Sarge?
Judge Richey: Oh, Sargent Shriver.
Mr. Singer: Oh, sure.
Judge Richey: He’s been nice as heck to me over the years.
Mr. Singer: He’s a wonderful man. Just extraordinary. Extraordinary man.
Judge Richey: He’s a decent man. I remember when I first came down here. I saw
him going across the Georgetown Bridge. He was in a convertible.
Mr. Singer: He loves convertibles.
Judge Richey: And he stuck his head over the window and said “Judge, keep writing
those wonderful opinions.”[unclear] Pardon?
Mr. Singer: It had to do with the Nixon?
Judge Richey: I don’t know, early in my career. I remember. Just crossing the
bridge, over there by the, I remember exactly where it was, right next to
the old transit company building.
Mr. Singer: Across Key Bridge.
Judge Richey: Yeah, Key Bridge. That’s it.
Mr. Singer: That’s where the car barn used to be. Some of us have very fond
memories of that kind of facility. Many of us wish that Georgetown
hadn’t opposed the Metro the way they did and had taken it right out to
the amusement park.
Judge Richey: Glen Echo. That’s absolutely right!
Mr. Singer: It’s one of the great local tragedies.
Judge Richey: It is. You couldn’t be more right. You should have been one of my
law partners. God, we’d have gotten along beautifully.
Mr. Singer: I want to get back to the service on the Hill.
Judge Richey: All right.
Mr. Singer: You say you were on her payroll?
Judge Richey: Right. And the first thing when I got there 45 minutes after getting off
the train. I ought to first tell you that I raced up to my room, dumped
my foot locker and a suitcase, maybe two. And went down the
elevator. She told me to go to the cafeteria and get something to eat.
When I got on the elevator there was Justice and Mrs. Harold Burton.
Mr. Singer: Also from Cleveland.
Judge Richey: Former mayor, U.S. Senator, Truman put him on the Supreme Court as
a Republican. In fact I have his award. In any event I thought I was
going to faint seeing Justice Burton on the elevator.
Mr. Singer: You thought he really didn’t have to take up the elevator to get up to his
room. That would have been my attitude. Some of those people
Judge Richey: Well it was quite a shock – the cultural shock for a kid with my
background. And then I walk over the Hill and find her office. They
showed me, her secretary showed me my desk which was out in the
center of a room; we had the largest staff of anybody on the Hill except
Lyndon B. Johnson, seven people. But as I say, I wasn’t on any
Congressional or public payroll, but the buzzer rang and she called me
in. “Charles, I want you to represent me this morning before the
House Armed Services Committee on the WAC Bill.”
Mr. Singer: Women’s Army Corps.
Judge Richey: To make women a permanent part of the Armed Services. Well, I
didn’t know what “represent me” meant. And she says, “it begins at
10:00. Now I have got to go to another meeting. Good-bye.”
That’s all the instruction I had. So I started out about 10 minutes of 10
and I got lost. I was late. So that I got to these huge, big doors. I
don’t know whether you can remember them, but they’re black-plated
handles so I got there finally about 10 minutes late. Started to put my
hand on the door and both of them opened and guess who I collided
with literally and figuratively, face-to-face, nose-to-nose, but none
other than Dwight D. Eisenhower. Because he was just leaving the
witness stand and his big entourage, he was then head of NATO.
That was my first morning. I sat there and took notes, and so on. I
didn’t know what the hell to do. I came back and she asked me about
a lot of question about who testified, fortunately I… I
Mr. Singer: You’d taken good notes.
Judge Richey: I’d taken good notes. Got by that. Basically the thing that I did
most while I was there with her was to write the arguments pro and con
on every issue before the 80th Congress. It ended up with two big
long files. And she was great of friend of Jim Forrestal, who was the
first Secretary of Defense and he had a theory that he wouldn’t read
anything that was in excess of one page. And neither would she. No
more than one page. If you couldn’t say it in a page it wasn’t worth
saying. She didn’t have time to read it. So I remember the first
assignment she gave me. I don’t know what the heck it was about but
something about housing. And it was about 3-1/2 pages single
spaced. She called me in and wouldn’t read it and then gave me the
Forrestal lecture. Another thing she did was while we were talking
about that subject I had another classmate who was a law clerk to
Mr. Singer: On the Supreme Court?
Judge Richey: On the Supreme Court. And, of course, we all lived in rooming
houses in Washington in those days too. So she wanted me to go over
and talk to Justice Burton, who was her friend of course, about this and
I said Ms. Bolton, I can’t do that, that’s improper. There’s the same
issue as before the Court. She couldn’t understand that at all. And
she was very, very distressed with me. As a result, it was so bad, that
I had to call her son, and say, “Look, Ollie, for Christ sake, get your
mother straightened out here. I can’t do that.”
Mr. Singer: She wouldn’t hesitate a minute, I suppose, to pick up the phone call
Judge Richey: Years later I heard Warren Burger, not talking to me, but I was in his
presence telling somebody about how a governor was calling him
asking him something about some Voting Rights Act case or
something like that and, he said “Governor, you’re a lawyer, do you
want me to recuse myself. I can’t talk to you about this case.” “Oh,
thank you very much, Mr. Chief Justice, I’ve got my attorney general on
the phone with two other justices right now.” It’s a [garbled] you
know, the mentality of some people, outside of Washington is very de
minimis. But in any event…
Mr. Singer: But in terms of the career on the Hill, what was your view, as a staff
Judge Richey: The best thing I ever did, I still use it, because I started to say I had to
summarize all the issues with back-up papers that consisted of two files
when I got done, aside from write thousands of form letters.
Mr. Singer: You did constituent work also?
Judge Richey: Yeah. And drafting of some amendments to bills and things like that.
But boy I worked too. I was the first one in the office except for her
secretary and the last one to leave. 12, 15 hour days. But it was an
enormous experience. I still draw on the issues about public housing,
federal aid to education, all the stuff that Gingrich and company want
to do away with today. But the hell with it!
Mr. Singer: How long did you work for her? You left sometime in ’49?
Judge Richey: No. Let’s see. One afternoon in the late Spring, I came February 5,
1948. I had worked for her in her Cleveland office before I came
Mr. Singer: While you were in law school?
Judge Richey: Right. And so all told I worked for her for just about 15 months.
But in the spring of that year after I got here, some kid comes in the
office one day and said he’s a representative of the Republican National
Committee and wanted to know, he was canvassing the Ohio
delegation, wanted to know if they had any volunteers for the national
campaign, and they said no. Her secretary.
Mr. Singer: This is now the ’48 election.
Judge Richey: And I followed him out in the hall and introduced myself and asked
him if I could come and it was up here at 1337 Connecticut Avenue at
the time. I went. Sat in the back of the room. By the time the
meeting was over I was in the front row. And there was a fellow
named Ralph Becker who was National Chairman at the time.
Mr. Singer: Oh sure. He’s the man who was…
Judge Richey: He just died.
Mr. Singer: Active in the Kennedy Center.
Judge Richey: Correct. You’re absolutely right.
Mr. Singer: He used to have offices in the same building where we did at 1700 K.
Judge Richey: Is that right? Ralph was very, very nice to me. I later became his
assistant. In any event there was another fellow who was a law
partner of Ralph’s named F. Trowbridge vom Baur.
Mr. Singer: Absolutely.
Judge Richey: He wrote the first book on administrative law. It’s over there on my
Mr. Singer: Great government contracts lawyer.
Judge Richey: Correct.
Mr. Singer: He had some wonderful partners along the way. He bounced in and
out of various law firms.
Judge Richey: Struve Hensel was really his benefactor.
Mr. Singer: That’s exactly right, you took the words out of my mouth.
Judge Richey: Struve got him the job in the general counsel in the Navy. In any
event, he took… Mardelle’s father was ill, skip a couple of years, when
we were married, and Trow took the place of my father-in-law because
of his illness when we were married. He’s now 85, 88 living in
Warrenton. We saw him about eight months ago and we’re going to
go back soon on a Saturday for lunch. We’re very fond of Trow, he’s
kind of stiff. He never made any money. Never knew how to make
money, but, God, is he smart.
Mr. Singer: He was a very important person in the whole development of the
government contracts bar law.
Judge Richey: Oh, no question about it. No question about it. Terrific writer,
organizer. Got his start in the Wilke campaign in 1940 in New York.
In addition to writing that book at age 33 with a forward by Roscoe
Pound. He taught me. I had lunch every day with him after I went to
the National Committee. But, in any event, that led to a volunteer
committee to write the literature for the ’48 campaign. Trow was
chairman and I became his assistant and then it became time for his
vacation, it wasn’t going to be done and I was the only one who knew
enough to finish it. And so, somehow or other, it got to the attention
of Herb Brownell, probably through Ralph Becker.
Mr. Singer: That makes sense.
Judge Richey: That I was kinda of indispensable to their efforts and I was all set, and
had packed, moved out of my rooming house over there on Maryland
Avenue and taken my foot locker and a couple of suitcases to put them
in the locker at the Union Station to go home. To help her in the
campaign and the buzzer rang, I clicked my heels and saluted and went
in and there was Herbert Brownell. She said “Charles, Herb tells me
you’ve done a great job at nights up at the National Committee and he
wants to know whether I’ll loan you to them for the balance of the
campaign. Would you like to go with him or do you want to go back
to Cleveland with me?” Well, shit I didn’t know how to answer that
question. I wanted to stay here so badly. And I hemmed and hawed,
she said “Well, I’ll keep you on my payroll and loan you to Herb if you
don’t have any objections.” She made it easier.
Mr. Singer: That’s really very easy. Particularly since it was her personal payroll.
Judge Richey: That’s right. So she did. And Ralph had a, I don’t know how the hell
he did it, but a room at the Mayflower. A suite. And we essentially
lived there. Except when Ralph was on the road. And that was the
time they were building DuPont Circle. You know.
Mr. Singer: I remember that. I remember the street cars.
Judge Richey: The riveting, oh my God, it was so hot, we were in the DuPont Circle
Building during the campaign itself. But I got to go to Philadelphia to
the convention and got to go meet Dewey at his first public appearance
after the campaign, or after the convention, and then at an office right
next to John Danaher, who later became a circuit judge here.
Mr. Singer: I know John Danaher. When I was a law clerk he was a judge; when I
worked for George Washington he was a judge. They actually had
Judge Richey: Is that so? Well George Washington was a great man.
Mr. Singer: And Milt Eisenberg was with Danaher.
Judge Richey: He was.
Mr. Singer: Milt Eisenberg was a law clerk to John Danaher.
Judge Richey: He was. I never knew that. Judas Priest, how in the hell could he
have stood that goddamn…John Danaher in those days was an ex-U.S.
senator, as you probably know.
Mr. Singer: I do know.
Judge Richey: And he was as nice as he could be but God when he became a judge,
oh what a son of a bitch.
Mr. Singer: You are in charge of what happens to this tape.
Judge Richey: He was very nice to me though. We organized a… when Ralph
Becker got word that down in Tennessee, Roy Acuff, a famous singer,
a Republic candidate for governor, was going to win and Carroll Reece
also was a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Chairman of the Republican
National Committee. Had been. Long time, 30 plus years member
of Congress. And they both were drawing crowds up to 75,000
people. Acuff singing and Reece playing the Jew’s harp on the back
of these trucks. But the trick was to prevent, cut down the Dixiecrat
vote, and, more importantly, to prevent Boss Crump from stealing the
election in Memphis. And he was at the height of his power.
Mr. Singer: These were called the good old days, I think.
Judge Richey: So, Becker went to Trow and in turn came to me and said we’ve got to
organize a vote fraud campaign in Tennessee. And it fell in my lot to
call on all these bright young lawyers, mostly from New York, to go to
Tennessee and I was able to persuade John Danaher to come up with
the money to finance it. And you know we did that and it was really
working beautifully. Had those guys, the Dixiecrats, Strom
Thurmond scared to death and the Truman people scared to death
because they knew they could win if they got Memphis and we were
going to prevent it.
Mr. Singer: And Gore’s father and Estes Kefauver were then Senators from
Tennessee? Or not yet?
Judge Richey: He wasn’t around then. Kefauver was. But I think at that time
Kefauver was still a member of the House. But in any event, two
weeks before the election, Dewey got the idea, Paul Lockwood called
me from Albany; he gave me this direction. “Call off those vote fraud
young Republicans in Tennessee and tell them to come home. And
we want no literature with the candidate. Revercomb in West
Virginia and Humphrey in Minnesota are running against Joe Ball,
who’s been Chairman of the Labor Committee. All that literature was
to be destroyed. And there was also no literature to be distributed in
support of the Taft Hartley Act in New Jersey. And Danaher told me
when I went to him afterwards that he said that no, I can’t fund this
anymore. So they did the destroy the literature for Revercomb and for
Humphrey but a couple of us saved all the literature that had been
preprinted for New Jersey and distributed it at the factory gates all
throughout New Jersey. And you know what we lost Tennessee,
Humphrey got elected, Joe Ball defeated, Revercomb defeated, we won
in New Jersey by 75,000 votes.
Mr. Singer: You must have felt very good about that.
Judge Richey: Screw those guys! Let me just have one second to relieve my
Mr. Singer: You had just won New Jersey by 75,000 votes and that felt pretty good.
How did you feel about the Dewey loss of the presidency?
Judge Richey: Herb Brownell called me in before the election and, bear in mind, I
graduated February 4, 1948 from law school. I left that night to come
to Washington. I hadn’t taken — the bar was given in March. I was
so hell bent to get to Washington I didn’t even get to take the bar. So,
Herb Brownell called me in about 10 days before the election and he
said, “Chuck, what do you want when we win?” I hadn’t even thought
Mr. Singer: At this point you’re 25 years old.
Judge Richey: Right.
Mr. Singer: Not quite, you’re born in, well October, you would have been just 25
Judge Richey: I said I’d like to be assistant press secretary to the president. I don’t
why, just out of the blue. A cousin who was like an uncle to me
always used to talk about Stephen Early who had been the press
secretary to Roosevelt so that must have come to my mind in the
recesses. I knew I couldn’t be press secretary at that age, so I said I’d
like to be assistant. Herb says, “You got it.” Then a couple of days
before the election he said we’re going to have a party for the staff at
the Balalaika Restaurant down there at Connecticut and whatever it
was. And I want you to go down and make arrangements for it. I
did and of course we lost and that was the only time I was in Drew
Pearson’s column or anything like that until I became a judge, I think,
as far as I know. But anyhow he had a line in there the Republicans
hastily cancelled the victory celebration at the Balalaika Restaurant
immediately after the returns came in.
Mr. Singer: So your career as an impresario was short lived.
Judge Richey: I can’t believe Milton Eisenberg clerked for John Danaher.
Mr. Singer: Milt had come…
Judge Richey: He worked for Ken Keating in the U.S. Senate, did you know that?
Mr. Singer: Oh sure, Milton has been my partner since 1965.
Judge Richey: I love Milton Eisenberg, don’t misunderstand me one bit. I’d do
anything for him, including probably steal, if I had to, but he is one of
the toughest guys, you know what I call him. Judge. And not in a
laudatory sense because he’s so tough.
Mr. Singer: He’s very tough.
Judge Richey: We were in a, he organized the first Inn of Court on white collar crime
and I’ll never forget I was sitting over there, it was my turn to run a
program one evening and of course you’ve learned that I’m pretty
independent and Milton was president of the Inn and he decided he was
going to come down here and see what we were going to do. What do
you think, what do you think? And Milton was kinda of sitting back
there. I really didn’t consult him. I think Milton was a little bit
offended. So finally he expressed himself, and I said “Now listen
Judge Eisenberg — this is the way we are going to do it.” And then I
started to call him Judge ever since. He’s a magnificent guy.
Mr. Singer: So Milton and I were law clerks.
Judge Richey: That’s probably how you became friends.
Mr. Singer: It was the first time we met actually. He then went to work in the
U.S. Attorney’s office.
Judge Richey: Here?
Mr. Singer: Yeah. When Gasch was U.S. Attorney then.
Judge Richey: Jesus.
Mr. Singer: And then he went to the NLRB and then he went to Keating.
Judge Richey: I see.
Mr. Singer: And when he left Keating in ’65 he came to the firm. I’d gone to the
firm in ’58.
Judge Richey: He’s a hell of a man. One great…
Mr. Singer: He and I really have been together a very long time.
Judge Richey: Well don’t misunderstand me, I love him, but…
Mr. Singer: You’re right, he’s tough.
Judge Richey: He’s tough as nails.
Mr. Singer: In this period after the defeat of Dewey you then, I assume, Mrs. Bolton
was reelected and you went back.
Judge Richey: Mrs. Bolton was reelected of course, served for many, many years
thereafter. What happened? Oh, because of Dewey’s defeat, was the
best thing that ever happened to me personally and professionally.
Because I hadn’t taken the bar, so I decided I better do that.
Mr. Singer: Before you forget everything.
Judge Richey: So I went back and studied for the bar and she was kind enough to keep
me on her payroll. The first time in my life I’d ever had a chance to
relax, study. And, while I was back in Cleveland, I get a call from
Ralph Becker one time and he said when the bar is over how would
you like to come back to Washington and be my assistant and help
make the arrangements for the YR National Convention that is going to
be out in Salt Lake City in June.
Mr. Singer: June of ’49?
Judge Richey: Right. And I said, “Oh, I’d love it, you know that.” He said, “Well,
I’ve got Hugh Scott and whoever else’s approval and I don’t like the guy
who’s got the job now so if you’re willing it’s all set.”
Mr. Singer: You know who the guy was who had the job?
Judge Richey: Some guy named Vetter, I’ve never seen him since. I don’t know what
the hell ever happened to him. And Ralph and I hit it off beautifully
and Mrs. Bolton let me do it, and that was the end of my association
with her in terms of employment and I wrote speeches for Ralph and
the chairman, Hugh Scott was then chairman.
Mr. Singer: From Pennsylvania, great collector of Chinese art and antiquities of all
Judge Richey: Incidentally, he was a young congressman who had two members in his
staff right across the hall from Mrs. Bolton. An old man and an old
woman, both had worked for the Philadelphia Daily News and when
he got elected they came with him. His two men and they
hunt-and-peck typed and then he was thrust out of nowhere to be
Republican National Chairman. And he and Ralph Becker got in a
terrible fight. It pitted me against Hugh Scott.
Mr. Singer: This is now?
Judge Richey: Spring of 1949. And so he picked out a candidate.
Mr. Singer: Which one, Becker or Scott?
Judge Richey: Becker is still there even though he’s over-age he still had the title of
Chairman of the Young Republicans nationally. Young Republican
National Federation, precise title. Got a candidate named John
Walter, Scott did, to be Chairman and Becker picked a fellow from
Detroit named John Tope. And of course that meant I was ipso facto
for Tope. And we beat them.
Mr. Singer: It was actually contested.
Judge Richey: Oh boy, goodness, contested, my goodness, gracious, you have no idea.
And that was a major fight and also the first test of racial
discrimination that I had to deal with face to face. And this has a
great deal to do with modern history. They called me up.
Mr. Singer: This is Becker?
Judge Richey: No, the hotel at 2:30 in the morning, I don’t know where Becker was, in
Salt Lake City. They told me that there were 29 delegates from
Oregon, four or five of whom were black and that they wouldn’t honor
their reservations. Well after some expletives that didn’t do any good
so I immediately got dressed and went down to the desk; they wouldn’t
budge. I demanded to see the manager who didn’t live there, Hotel
Salt Lake City, then the biggest hotel in Salt Lake, and he explained to
me that man was colored for his sins and that it was a part of the
Mr. Singer: You certainly had heard that from your friends Rankin and Bilbo.
Judge Richey: No, I really hadn’t. The worst thing that I had ever heard as far as I
can remember. We just treated Bilbo and Rankin with such a grain of
salt you didn’t really pay attention to what they were saying, because it
was just dead wrong. But this was serious stuff. And no matter
what demands I made they wouldn’t budge and said they couldn’t. So,
I did make arrangements to get them rooms in nice homes but they
couldn’t stay in the hotel, they learned to their regret. So, I made a
speech the next morning on the floor of the convention that got
nationwide headlines, that the Republican Party would never hold a
convention where there was any discriminatory conduct.
Mr. Singer: That was taking a big…
Judge Richey: And that was in June of 1949.
Mr. Singer: That was before the world changed.
Judge Richey: And I’ve got those clippings someplace, during that era. Oh, the
Mormons were livid. And I remember years later watching George
Romney. I didn’t have anything to do with it at that time, run for
president, and of course they had arranged to change their dogma or
whatever you call it, so that that principle was no longer extant,
allegedly. But, then it came time to elect the chairman, as I said John
Walter, who later became U.S. Attorney and a federal judge. He’s still
sitting. He’s retired but he’s still sitting in Los Angeles. We beat him
but he was the candidate of Hugh Scott, the National Chairman. They
always tried to control the Young Republicans by all kinds of means,
by money and other means. Becker and I were too goddamned
independent for that. We beat their tails and as a result the headlines
all across the country, “Young GOPs Spank Scott”.
Mr. Singer: He could not have liked that very much.
Judge Richey: No. And as a result, this was in June, by August he was deposed as
Republican National Chairman. And a fellow named Guy George
Gabrielson from New Jersey was made chairman. And he picked as
his top aide a fellow name Ab Hermann from New Jersey. He hit that
National Committee like dynamite. And fortunately for me he was
married to a Jew and was very tolerant of young people and people of
my views and so we hit it off just beautifully. And Mardelle and I still
see Sylvia. He died. I thought he’d live forever. He’d been a
Boston Braves baseball player, third baseman. Major league baseball
player. Fantastic guy. And he spent the rest of his life there at the
National Committee running campaigns. But that was a great, a very
big experience in my life.
Mr. Singer: Why don’t we bring this to an end? You’ve been at it enthusiastically
for almost two hours. That’s kind of a break in the action in any event
in the life of Charles Richey and we’ll pick it up on Thursday when we
ORAL HISTORY OF JUDGE CHARLES RICHEY