2011 Lawyers’ Hall of Fame
- Roderick Beddow, Sr. (1889 - 1978)
Roderick Beddow, Sr. was born on July 11, 1889 at Whiteside, TN. His father, Charles Peter Beddow, a distinguished member of the Tennessee Bar, moved his family to Birmingham where he practiced from 1895 to 1924. Young Roderick attended school in Birmingham and as a youngster he had the largest newspaper route in the city. Mr. Beddow stated in his later years that his experience as a newsboy acquainted him greatly with human nature and helped to prepare him for his life as a trial lawyer.
He attended Washington & Lee University, graduating in 1911 while Dr. George Denny was its President. He commenced the study of law at W & L, but when Dr. Denny became President of the University of Alabama, young Roderick transferred to Alabama and received his law degree there in 1913. He practiced law with his father until the day his father died in 1924 in a courtroom after collapsing while trying a case with his son.
Roderick Beddow had a general law practice but his great reputation came in the area of criminal defense. He was known as the “Perry Mason” of Birmingham because of his honesty, tenacity, and success. He worked hard and prepared his cases well. As his reputation grew, he tried cases in approximately 15 states and practically every county in Alabama.
Mr. Beddow was recognized by his peers for his high ethical standards and for his leadership. He served as President of the Birmingham Bar Association and the Alabama State Bar. In 1933 he was elected President of Lions International and in that capacity represented the organization throughout the United States and in foreign countries.
Roderick Beddow, Sr. died in Birmingham on September 13, 1978 at the age of 89. He was a successful attorney, a mentor to several generations of lawyers, and a respected civic leader who took a keen interest in the life of his community. The lawyers of Alabama are proud to induct him into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.
- John McKinley (1780 - 1852)
John McKinley was born in Culpeper County, Virginia on May 1, 1780. His family moved to Kentucky, he read law there, and practiced law from 1800 to 1818 in Frankfort and Louisville. In 1818 he moved his practice to Huntsville, Alabama and soon became deeply involved in Alabama politics. He was named one of the 7 trustees of the Cypress Land Co. which laid out, promoted, and sold lots in the new town of Florence. In 1820 he was elected to the Alabama Legislature. And in 1821 he moved to Florence and he was selected to serve as one of the 12 trustees on the original Board of the University of Alabama. He served until 1823.
McKinley’s involvement in politics led to numerous offices. From November 27, 1826 to March 3, 1831 he was a United States Senator from Alabama. He was defeated for re-election but regained a seat in the Alabama Legislature in 1831. Then from March 4, 1833 to March 3, 1835 he sat as a Representative in Congress from Alabama. In 1836 he again served in the Alabama Legislature. In 1837 the legislature selected him to serve again as United States Senator for the term beginning March 4, 1837. However, he resigned on April 22 of that year when he was nominated by President Martin Van Buren to become the 23rd Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court and the first Justice from Alabama. The Senate confirmed his nomination on September 25, 1837.
McKinley served 15 years on the Court. He was very active during the first years of his tenure and traveled extensively to fulfill his “circuit riding duties” as a member of the Court. He testified before Congress that by 1839 he had traveled over 10,000 miles. The constant travel affected McKinley’s health and he performed limited duties during his last years on the Court.
John McKinley died in Louisville, KY on July 19, 1852. At the time of his death, Chief Justice Taney remembered McKinley as “a sound lawyer, faithful and assiduous in the discharge of his duties while his health was sufficient to undergo the labor”. The Federal Courthouse in Florence, Alabama is named for Justice John McKinley.
- Nina Miglionico (1913 - 2009)
Nina Miglionico was born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 14, 1913, the child of Italian immigrants. Completing her undergraduate work at Howard College, now Samford University in 1933, she earned her law degree from the University of Alabama in 1936 at the age of 22. After failing to secure employment at an established firm, she started her own practice and was one of the first women in Alabama to do so.
She became active in many women’s organizations which were interested in women’s rights under the law. Among these were the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the American Association of University Women, Zonta International, a society of women in business, and the League of Women Voters. These organizations opposed existing inheritance laws which deprived married women of property rights, probate laws that nullified a woman’s will upon her marriage, and laws prohibiting women from serving on juries. In 1958 Nina became President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and in 1961 President Kennedy appointed her to serve on the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
She established her political career by winning a seat on the inaugural Birmingham City Council and becoming the Council’s first female member. She served from 1963 to 1985, holding the office of President from 1978 to 1981. She was also the first woman to be President of the Alabama League of Municipalities.
Because Miglionico was an enthusiastic supporter of women’s rights and equality and held progressive views on race, she became a target for extremists. A bomb was placed on her front porch steps in 1965, which fortunately failed to detonate, and a cross was burned in her yard in 1974 during her campaign as the Democratic nominee for Congress. Both incidents were suspected to be the work of the Ku Klux Klan.
Over the years, Nina Miglionico received the Sam Pipes Award as outstanding alumnus of the University of Alabama School of Law, the Burton Barnes Award for Public Service from the Birmingham Bar Association, and the Maud McLure Kelly Award from the Women’s Section of the Alabama State Bar. The Women’s Section of the Birmingham Bar Association established the Nina Miglionico “Paving the Way” Leadership Award in her honor to recognize individuals for advocating and advancing the role of women in the legal profession. In 1996 she was recognized with the Margaret Brent Award from the American Bar Association as one of the 5 outstanding women lawyers in the United States. And in 2012 she was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame.
Nina Miglionico died in Birmingham on May 6, 2009 at the age of 95. It is believed that she holds the distinction of being the longest practicing female attorney in the history of Alabama serving for a total of 73 years.
- Charles Morgan, Jr. (1930 - 2009)
Charles Morgan, Jr. was born on March 11, 1930 in Cincinnati, Ohio, but he grew up in Birmingham and loved Alabama. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama.
Chuck was the principal attorney in numerous civil rights and civil liberties cases. Among these cases is Reynolds v. Sims (1964), the reapportionment case which established the requirement of one man, one vote representation in both houses of a state legislature; White v. Crook (1966), which resulted in the racial integration of juries in Alabama and which declared that the exclusion of women from juries in Alabama was unconstitutional thus becoming the first application of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to women’s rights; and Whitus v. Georgia (1967), where racially discriminatory juries selected from racially segregated tax digests were declared unconstitutional and which resulted in the setting aside of 5 Georgia death penalty convictions.
But his singular moment of courage took place on the Monday following the Sunday bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963 in Birmingham. On that day at Birmingham’s Young Men’s Business Club, Morgan asked the central question of who was responsible for the bombing. His answer was we all are due to the racism of the city. Because of his outspokenness, Chuck could not sustain his law practice and he and his family left Birmingham in 1964. He opened the ACLU’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta and later became Director of its Washington, D.C. office.
Chuck Morgan remained a member of the Alabama State Bar throughout his professional life. He wrote two books about his life: A Time to Speak about his pre-1963 experiences, and One Man, One Voice, a memoir concerning the 1960’s and 1970’s. As one of the nomination letters stated: “He believed strongly that the practice of law was a profession and not a business, and he embodied its highest ideals”. Morgan died in Destin, Florida on January 8, 2009. Throughout his career he continued to fight for equal rights and justice for all.
- William D. Scruggs, Jr. (1943 - 2001)
William Doyle Scruggs, Jr. was born on May 29, 1943 in Fort Payne, Alabama and died in Fort Payne on November 6, 2001 at the age of 58. Bill attended the Baylor School in Chattanooga and received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Alabama. He became a member of the Alabama State Bar in 1968.
As a lawyer, Bill’s talent and dedication as an advocate for his clients, who he represented with great imagination, vigor, skill, and ability, was recognized by his induction into the American College of Trial Lawyers. He was held in the highest regard by his fellow attorneys, his clients, and the community.
Bill was also a loyal servant of the legal profession. He was a Bar Commissioner from 1974 to 1993 with the exception of his term of office as State Bar President in 1986-87. And he was a member of the Court of the Judiciary from 1985 until his death.
One of his nominators noted that Bill Scruggs “had an extraordinary legal mind and was an ardent advocate in the courtroom”. He continued, “It is unusual for a lawyer in a small firm in a small town to represent the array of major clients in complex litigation that Bill did”.
Another nominator spoke of Bill Scruggs as follows: “He was an accomplished case lawyer, transaction lawyer, speaker, raconteur, moralist, ethicist, and above all a very good dispenser of practical, helpful advice. In an age of specialization, Bill excelled at nearly every area of the law, and tried murder cases, product liability cases, fraud cases, banking cases, oil and gas cases, and whatever you needed”. He urged the selection committee to “Put Scruggs in the Hall of Fame”.
In 2002 the Board of Bar Commissioners created the William D. (Bill) Scruggs, Jr. Service to the Bar Award. It is intended to honor his memory by recognizing individuals whose record of service to the Bar emulates Bill’s. We honor the memory of Bill Scruggs once more by his induction into the Alabama Lawyers’ Hall of Fame.