Senator Sam Ervin’s copy of Fifty Famous Trials (1937) by R. Cornelius Raby.
Samuel James Ervin Jr. (1896-1985) was born and raised in Morganton, North Carolina. He volunteered for World War I and earned several awards, including the Silver Star, for his service in France with the American Expeditionary Force. After returning from the war, he enrolled in Harvard Law School, graduating in 1922.
Though Ervin served as a judge on various courts in North Carolina, including the state supreme court, he is best known for his 20 years in the United States Senate (1954-1974). While there, he was a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and, most notably, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities—better known as the Watergate Committee—in the hearings that ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation. If Nixon had undergone an impeachment trial in the Senate, it would have eclipsed in fame any of the 50 famous trials recounted in this book. Ervin retired from the Senate in 1974, before the end of his term, and spent the rest of his life writing and practicing law until his death in 1985.
– Bryan A. Garner
“Built by Association: Books Once Owned by Notable Judges and Lawyers, from Bryan A. Garner’s Collection”, an exhibit curated by Bryan A. Garner with Mike Widener, is on display until December 16, 2013 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.