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William Cornelius Dixon

William Cornelius Dixon had a long career as a government lawyer and jurist, but a brief career as a Supreme Court Justice.

Dixon was born in Dexter, N.Y. on July 1, 1904 to Frank W. and Celia Potter Dixon. He attended the University of Michigan and received a bachelor’s degree in 1926, as well as a juris doctor in 1928. Dixon was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1928 and was an associate with the law firm of Holliday, Grossman and McAfee in Cleveland from 1928 to 1932. Dixon served as assistant law director for Cleveland from 1932 to 1933 and then returned to private law practice in 1933. Dixon made an unsuccessful bid for the 22nd Congressional District in 1934.

In 1938, Gov. Martin L. Davey appointed Dixon to head the Relief Commission for Ohio under the Emergency Relief Act. On Nov. 8 of that year, Dixon was elected to the Supreme Court of Ohio to fill the unexpired term of Thomas A. Jones, who had died, Dixon’s term ended Jan. 1, 1939. During his brief, two-month tenure on the Court, Dixon wrote one opinion, for the 1938 case State, ex rel. Robinson v. Allman.

The case involved the suspension of Howard G. Robinson from his position as the chief of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification. Robinson appealed the suspension to the 10th District Court of Appeals of Ohio and won on the basis that the employer did not provide him with proper notice of the reason for his suspension, nor an opportunity to respond. The case went to the Supreme Court, which reversed the appeals court judgment. In the opinion, Dixon wrote that the statute gave the employer broad power to suspend employees for disciplinary reasons.

Following his stint on the Supreme Court, Dixon returned to Cleveland to practice law, serving as a special assistant to the attorney general in the antitrust division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1944 to 1954. During his tenure with the justice department, Dixon served as chief assistant in the trial section of the antitrust division in 1945, chief of the West Coast offices in 1946 and chief of the Los Angeles office in 1948. During that time, Dixon passed the California bar and was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Meanwhile in 1946, Dixon served as legal advisor and member of the Joint War and State Departments Mission on Japanese Combines (also known as the Zaibatsu Mission), assisting with the dismantling of the Japanese military-industrial complex. In 1954, Dixon returned to private law practice in Los Angeles and later was tapped to serve as assistant attorney general in charge of state antitrust enforcement in California from 1959 to 1963.

Dixon married Arvilla Pratt on Nov. 20, 1934 and the couple had two daughters. Dixon died Jan. 10, 1997 in San Diego, Calif. He is buried at Whitehaven Park in Cleveland.

Quick Details

b. July 1, 1904

d. Jan. 10, 1997

104th Justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio

Nov 8, 1938
to Jan 1, 1939

See All Justices

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