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Legal excellence fund honors Judge C. Wm. Bradley

Bradley was a district court judge in Louisiana for 25 years and a World War II combat veteran later appointed as a war crimes tribunal judge. 

Judge Charles William Bradley Photo
The Honorable Charles William Bradley

January 30, 2013

Michael Joe 

Tulane University Law School recently established a legal excellence fund with a gift made in honor of alumnus Charles William Bradley. Bradley, who died in 1999, was a district court judge in Louisiana for 25 years and a World War II combat veteran later appointed as a war crimes tribunal judge.

The Honorable Charles William Bradley Endowment for Legal Excellence provides funds to be used at the discretion of the law school dean to meet the needs of students, faculty and the community.  

“My father spent a lot of time at Tulane, and most of his kids ended up going there,” said C. Wm. Bradley Jr., a New Orleans attorney and 1976 Tulane law graduate who along with his sisters Bridget Bradley Meagher (NC ’74), Margaret E. Bradley (L ’81) and Adrian Bradley Henry endowed the fund with a $100,000 gift. “The fund allows the dean flexibility to direct it where the law school needs it most. It’s useful and practical.”   

Dean David Meyer said the family's gift will have an enduring impact on Tulane Law School and that the university is fortunate to have been such an important part of the judge's remarkable life.

"Judge Bradley was a true exemplar of the ideals of service and achievement associated with Tulane Law School," Meyer said. "As a young lawyer during the Second World War, he thrust himself into harm's way to be of maximum service to his country. Later, as one of the longest-serving judges on Louisiana's district court bench, he was widely revered not only for his legal acumen but also for his deep commitment to justice for the people who passed through his courtroom. He was Tulane through and through."

After three years at Tulane’s College of Commerce, Charles Bradley began studying law while working full-time for Shell Oil Company. He graduated in 1939, practiced law for two years and although exempt from military service due to his profession and age, he volunteered to enlist in the Army infantry. He entered as a private, declining an invitation to attend officer training school.   

Bridget Meagher, his oldest daughter, said her father was, “in many ways, a man of the people.”   

“The idea of entering the war at any other level probably didn’t appeal to him,” she said.   

Bradley was gravely injured in the Battle of the Bulge, but returned to his rifle regiment. One of his last missions was liberating the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. His commanding general, Mark W. Clark, learned that Bradley was a lawyer and assigned him to coordinate and conduct depositions of survivors.  

After the war, Bradley was appointed as a prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps in Vienna, Austria. Later, he was appointed as a judge on the Austrian War Crimes Tribunal in Salzburg. He was the only lawyer on the bench; all other members were military officers. He was discharged at the rank of major in 1949.   

In 1959, Bradley was elected to the 24th Judicial District Court, serving Jefferson, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes. He was later elected to the 29th Judicial District Court for the parishes of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist, and in 1977 to the 40th Judicial District Court for St. John the Baptist Parish.   

His children said their father seemed to enjoy everything about being on the district court bench – the conversations with lawyers, the camaraderie with other judges, even the politics of elected office. What he enjoyed most of all was interacting with litigants.   

Each summer, Bradley sat on a court of appeal to help reduce a perpetual backlog of cases. For someone who considered himself a people person, he wasn’t fond of making decisions based simply on the cold, hard record.  

“When you are on the district court bench, that’s where all the people are,” Bradley Jr. said. “He preferred dealing with criminal cases, domestic cases, personal injury cases, expropriations and election contests.”   

Bradley was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge for his service in World War II. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Jurist Award in 1999, and passed away in September that year. His wife, Margaret Landry Bradley, died in 2004.   

Michael Joe is a writer in the Office of Development.



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