The Robert H. Jackson Center announces release of historical court records

JAMESTOWN – The Robert H. Jackson Center recently received, by court order, images of the official documents relating to Robert H. Jackson’s 1913 admission to practice law in the courts of New York state. These of-ficial records, now available for reading and copying on the Jackson Center website, include Jackson’s application to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, supporting affidavits, the court order granting his admission and his signature on the court’s roll of attorneys.

On behalf of the Jackson Center, John Q. Barrett, Professor of Law at St. John’s University and a Jackson Center board member, petitioned the Fourth Department this Fall for release of Court records on Jackson’s 1913 admission to practice law. The court, located in Rochester, granted the petition in this 2013 centennial of the start of Jackson’s monumental career as a lawyer.

“The only instances I know of where New York Courts have ordered such releases were in response to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library’s application for FDR’s bar admission papers, and now the Jackson Center’s application for Jackson’s,” Professor Barrett aid. “[The documents] are interesting as historical records, and of course as Jackson artifacts. They include many interesting nuggets, such as Jackson’s handwritten, succinct answers to various questions on the application.”

Jackson, born in 1892, graduated from high school in Frewsburg in 1909. He spent the following year as a post-graduate student at Jamestown High School in Jamestown.

Beginning in Fall 1910, 18-year-old Jackson, eschewing college, began studies to prepare to become a lawyer. He went to work as an apprentice in the offices of Jamestown attorneys Frank H. Mott and Benjamin S. Dean.

After one year with Mott and Dean, Jackson moved to Albany Law School, then a two-year school. It accepted Jackson as a transfer student into its senior class, giving him credit for his apprenticeship year. He completed the school’s academic program near the top of his class, and in June 1912, at 20, returned to Jamestown and resumed his apprenticeship with Mott and Dean.

By Fall 1913, Jackson had turned 21, taken and passed the New York State bar examination, and completed the three total years of law study, in a school or an office or a combination of each, as the New York courts then required for admission to practice. New York’s Board of Law Examiners, sitting in Albany, certified to the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, of the Supreme Court of the State of New York that Jackson had passed the bar examination.

Jackson submitted to the Court his required good character statement and supporting affidavits (from Mott and Dean), and on Nov. 24, 1913, the court ordered Jackson’s admission to practice and he signed its Roll of Attorneys.

“The Jackson Center thanks the Appellate Div-ision, Fourth Department, for its disclosure order, as well as the many New York law and history leaders and teachers who assisted in locating and liberating these documents,” Barrett said.

The historical documents may be viewed on the Center’s website: