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b. April 1, 1852
d. Jan. 24, 1912
72nd Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio
Term
July 19, 1902
to Jan. 1, 1911

WILLIAM BINFORD CREW

Considered an ideal trial judge, William Binford Crew also was known as calm, serene and patient to hear all reasonable arguments while dispatching business in his court.

He was born April 1, 1852, in Chesterhill, Ohio, to Fleming and Sarah Patterson Crew. Crew completed his education at a Quaker boarding school near Philadelphia, Pa.

Crew studied law with Judge Moses M. Granger of Zanesville, Ohio, was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1873, and, in 1874, was admitted to practice in the federal courts. From 1873 to 1875, Crew taught elementary law at the Cleveland Law College before returning to Morgan County in 1879 to practice law in McConnellsville, the county seat.

In 1876, Crew was elected Morgan County prosecuting attorney, but did not seek re-election in 1878. Crew and Jesse A. Ivers established a legal practice in July 1879, which operated until 1885. Crew continued to practice law until 1892, while simultaneously serving in the 69th Ohio General Assembly in the Ohio House of Representatives as the representative from Morgan County.

In November 1891, Crew was elected to a five-year term as judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the First Subdivision of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, comprising Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties. He was re-elected in 1896 and 1901.

Crew was nominated by the Republican State Convention in May 1902 as a candidate for Supreme Court of Ohio Justice. However, Justice Marshall J. Williams died in July 1902 and Gov. George K. Nash appointed Crew on July 19, 1902 to fill Williams’ unexpired term. Crew later was elected to complete Williams’ term, which ended Feb. 8, 1903, and to serve the full six-year term, which began Feb. 9, 1903. Changes made necessary by Ohio’s switch to biennial elections in even years extended his term to Jan. 1, 1911.

Crew wrote the majority opinion in the 1904 property rights case Genell v. Hirons. Adella Genell secured a judgment of $36.42 against Clyde Blose and when the Clark County sheriff attempted to collect the judgment, he found that Blose had no personal property that could be sold to pay the judgment, except a lot in the city of Tremont appraised at $100. Ohio statute allowed a debtor owing a judgment to be exempt from sale of any single property valued at less than $500. Blose exempted his Tremont lot. On May 3, 1901, J.B. Hirons purchased the lot from Blose for $81. Genell then filed suit in the Clark County Court of Common Pleas to have this lot sold to satisfy the debt. Crew wrote in the Supreme Court majority opinion, which upheld the Clark County circuit court ruling, “But the exemption which the law gives in lieu of a homestead is an absolute exemption and whether it be taken in real or personal property, the judgment debtor acquires, in and to the property so exempt, when selected and taken, an absolute ownership with full powers of disposition.”

Crew lost re-election in November 1910 and moved to Cleveland in 1911 to enter legal practice with his son. Crew moved back to McConnellsville and established a solo legal practice after his son left the Cleveland practice.

In 1876, Crew married Elizabeth P. Worrall and they had two children. On Jan. 24, 1912, Crew suffered a fatal heart attack while visiting Marietta. He is buried in McConnellsville.