Beatty, James H (1836 - 1927) *

Born in 1836 in Fairfield County, Ohio. Graduated in Law from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1856. Fought in the Fourth Iowa Battery during the Civil War. Beatty’s military experience took him to Missouri, where he settled after the war was over. After seven years in Missouri as the registrar in bankruptcy and as a member of the Republican State Central Committee , he moved to Utah to be Assistant U.S. Attorney.

In 1882, Beatty went to Idaho and settled in the newly prosperous town of Hailey. He served in the fourteenth Idaho territorial legislature during 1886-87. In the spring of 1889, he was strongly in the running for the appointment to the territorial governorship of Idaho. However, President Harrison ultimately appointed George Shoup to that position. Subsequently, someone had suggested Beatty for appointment to the territorial supreme court. During the summer of 1889, Beatty spent much of his time actively participating in the Idaho constitutional convention, which had been convened in July 1889 in anticipation of statehood. Beatty served as chair of the committee on election and rights of suffrage, and as a member of the committees on the judiciary, municipal corporations, revision and enrollment, and rules. One member of the convention recollected fifty years later that Beatty "was a stickler for plain, understandable language and was dubbed the school master of the convention." Beatty’s gift for plain, understandable prose was to stay with him throughout his tenure on the federal courts of Idaho.

On November 21, 1889, Beatty was commissioned as chief justice of the Idaho territorial supreme court. He thus began his eighteen year judicial career by presiding over the last year of that court’s existence. With the creation of the new state in 1890, Congress dissolved the territorial court. From the beginning, the geographical boundary of the state in which the federal district court sat defined the geographical boundary of the district court.

President Harrison sent James H. Beatty’s name to the U.S. Senate in March of 1891. Beatty was commissioned as federal judge for the District of Idaho on March 7, 1891. On April 6, 1891 in Boise, Beatty opened the session of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho with a proclamation from President Harrison being read into the record. Beatty was officially confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February of 1892. Beatty’s conscientious decisions on various fundamental subjects provide insight into the economic and social development of Idaho and the American West.

In March of 1907, at the age of seventy-one, after seventeen years on the federal bench, James Beatty resigned from the federal judiciary. He and his wife toured the world, sending back letters to the Boise Evening Capital News which were ultimately published in book form. They lived briefly in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho then eventually settled in Hollywood, California in the 1920's. It is hard to imagine an elderly, teetotaling jurist from Idaho living amid the raucous glamour of Hollywood in its heyday, but it was there that Beatty spent the last years of his life.. He died at the age of ninety one and was buried in the Hollywood Cemetery not far from Rudolph Valentino
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* Excerpts from  "The Federal Court in Idaho, 1889 -1907; The Appointment and Tenure of James H. Beatty, Idaho's First Federal Court Judge" by Monique C. Lillard  which appeared in Western Legal  History Vol 2, No 1 Winter/Spring 1989.