Monday, March 16, 2015

Memoriam for William H. Bill Bowen (3/16/15)

William H. ("Bill") Bowen, deceased, was honored with an In Memoriam gathering including Lynn Foster, Joel E. Anderson, Byron M. Eiseman, John Gill, Chuck Goldner, Kenneth S. Gould, Charles E. Hathaway, James L. "Skip" Rutherford, III and President Bill Clinton.  The comments are published in 37 U.Ar., Little Rock Law Review 1 (Fall 2014).  The University of Arkansas at Little Rock is also called the William H. Bowen School of Law.  See here.  I cannot provide a link to the publication because it has not yet appeared on the law review's web page, here [but at some point it will appear].

The following excerpts are from the publication (bold-face supplied by JAT):

From Byron M. Eiseman, Partner, Friday, Eldredge & Clark
1. Bill Bowen, the lawyer. Following his graduation from the University of Arkansas School of Law, Bill continued his academic career by attending NYU. Afterwards he became a clerk to Judge Bolon B. Turner of the U.S. Tax Court, a native Arkansan. His next job was employment with the Tax Division of the Department of Justice traveling around the country winning tax cases for the government many of which appeared to be losers. His successes distinguished him in the eyes of his immediate superior, Charles Mehaffy, who happened to be the brother of Pat Mehaffy, the original managing partner of our firm then known as Mehaffy, Smith & Williams. Charles Mehaffy contacted his brother, Pat, and told him the firm needed to hire a boy named Bowen from Altheimer who was the brightest star in tax litigation matters for the government. Bill reported to work in 1954 and soon began his legendary career in Arkansas. He became a name partner in 1962 and was one of the most successful lawyers in the state. On separate occasions he successfully represented two Hot Springs lawyers accused of criminal tax evasion and several well-known Arkansas families in civil tax disputes. In each instance, criminal and civil, the jury was out only a few minutes and Bill was established as one of Arkansas's foremost tax practitioners and litigators. One of my most memorable experiences with Bill was my first trip to St. Louis to present oral arguments on a tax case that we had won in Federal District Court and the government had appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bill could do things off the seat of his pants better than anyone I have ever known, and he had focused very little on our presentation. On the way to the courthouse he advised me that I was to make the leadoff argument and then he would summarize our position. When asked by the presiding judge of a three-judge panel who would be making the taxpayer's argument he proceeded to say I would go first and that he would follow. Chief Judge Martin Van Oosterhout, the presider, pointed out that normally only one attorney would make the argument, but acceded to Bill's request. I took the first twenty minutes of the allotted thirty and then Bill took over. The bell rang at the twenty-nine minute mark indicating our time was almost up. Bill, with no hesitation, quickly advised the Court that he had some very important points yet to share with the Court and that he would likely need a few extra minutes. After the Chief Judge glanced at his fellow panelists, he shrugged his shoulders and said "Very well, Mr. Bowen." Bill was never inhibited in making a request or taking an action that he believed would benefit his client. 
* * * * 
3. Bill Bowen, the justice. In early 2010 at the age of eighty-six years, Bill was named by Governor Mike Beebe to serve as a justice on the Arkansas Supreme Court to complete the unexpired term of Justice Annabelle Imber Tuck who had earlier resigned. Justice Bowen was soon assigned his first case by Chief Justice Jim Hannah and given a stack of briefs and supporting documents that in his eyes appeared to be at least two feet tall. Justice  [*9]  Bowen did not sleep well for a few nights as he fretted over "What have I gotten myself into?" A health issue arose and Bill decided that he needed to let someone younger, but likely less wise, assume his position on the Court.
From President Bill Clinton:
But I want to say that by the time Bill Bowen agreed basically to make it possible for me to run for president--and I say that in all sincerity--I was profoundly concerned about what would happen if I were to undertake a campaign in 1991, and I wanted to know that the office would continue to operate and that things would go well, and that if I needed to make a decision or come home, somebody with enough sense to know would tell me and get me on a plane forthwith. 
I'd known Bill Bowen for a long time by then. By then, for a better part of two decades, he had been a friend of mine, an advisor, a supporter and a banker. I remember, I had been attorney general about two months when the Arkansas Jaycees named me one of the outstanding young men of the year; I knew I didn't deserve it and I found out later that Bill Bowen and Mack McLarty got it done. So I'm still trying to live up to it. And, unfortunately, I outgrew the title before I lived up to it. (Laughter.) 
By the time 1991 rolled around, there was only one thing Bill Bowen hadn't done for me: He hadn't actually been a full-time member of our administration.  [*23]  And so I asked him to become the chief of staff, as Mack said. He actually took about an hour to agree, and that's a long time for Bowen. You know how he makes decisions. (Laughter.) But after all, I was asking him to turn his entire life upside down. But he did it. And he performed in an absolutely superb way. 
From the time I set foot outside Arkansas to seek the presidency, I knew that the state and the State House would be in good hands. I never worried about whether decisions would be made in a timely fashion, whether anything that should be done was being done, whether there was some problem that should be brought to my attention that wasn't. I never worried about any of that. 
And so I can honestly say, my friend, Bill, if it hadn't been for you, I could not have done it. And I hope you're proud of what has happened in America for the last eight years. Because your decision to be a selfless public servant made it all possible, and I thank you for that. (Applause.) 
* * * * 
And I'd also like to tell you that I think my life with you in Arkansas had something to do with the economic policies we put in place up there. Somebody asked me the other day, when we passed the longest economic expansion in history, and everybody was celebrating, they said, "Well, what was the major contribution you made to the new economic policy, Mr. President?" And I said, "Arithmetic." (Laughter.) I brought arithmetic to Washington. 
And you're all laughing, but you're going to be asked to decide this year whether to continue arithmetic, or return to some other theory, and I think we now have evidence with both, and I hope that arithmetic will prevail. (Applause.) And I thank you, Bill Bowen, for what you did to make it possible. 
* * * * 
I told somebody one time that Bill Bowen made me look absolutely passive--(laughter)--and that I didn't believe anybody could possibly be as aggressive as he was and still be likeable--(laughter)--but he managed to do it. And I think today answers the question why. Because I always had the feeling that whatever he was pushing for was something that was going to be good for everybody else, too. And through a long and rich life, it's always been true.

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