Former Jefferson Co. Judge dies from COVID complications

Leonard J. Giblin Jr., who wanted to be a state trooper, but fell just underneath

Leonard J. Giblin Jr., who wanted to be a state trooper, but fell just underneath the top necessity and rather went to legislation university, in the end turning out to be a giant of jurist in Jefferson County, died Saturday after suffering from COVID-19. He was 80 many years aged.

Giblin’s towering fantastic temperament and grand perception of humor retained his courtrooms — often destinations of large drama involving zealous prosecutors and equally impassioned defense attorneys — an arena of respect and truthful perform.

“In his court docket, you’d better know your legislation, because he realized it,” stated Tom Maness, previous Jefferson County district legal professional and county court docket-at-law choose.” He designed everybody feel comfortable in his courtroom, and I under no circumstances noticed him exhibit any favoritism.”

Case in level: In October 1981, Giblin was appointed to preside in the demo of Vickie Daniel, whose partner was Price Daniel Jr., of Liberty County. Value was a former speaker of the Texas Household and the son of a governor.

Price tag Daniel Jr. and Vickie Daniel experienced a tempestuous, 4-12 months marriage and had been about a week away from a divorce listening to when Vickie shot and killed him. Giblin acquitted her of the murder charge.

The flamboyant Houston protection attorney Richard “Racehorse” Haynes represented Vickie Daniel in a little one custody lawsuit and Giblin admitted he was a bit leery of Haynes and his courtroom talents.

“I go through just about every reserve on him I could discover,” Giblin explained to The Company in a May well 1982 interview. “I read up on him like Patton did with Rommel,” referring to the Earth War II battlefield opponents.

Giblin reported he was delighted Haynes bowed out of the Daniel murder demo because if the two fulfilled in a courtroom, “Racehorse was heading to jail on contempt fees, and I was heading to the fifth ground of Baptist Hospital.”

Tom Hanna, who turned 83 on Saturday, was elected district lawyer in the early 1970s and preferred to revive the situation of to start with assistant to run the office’s functions.

Walter Umphrey, who died earlier this thirty day period, had hired Giblin in his Port Arthur law business but swiftly realized Giblin wasn’t truly fascinated in civil law or felony defense.

Hanna stated Umphrey instructed him he experienced a prospect for him and introduced Giblin to him. Giblin agreed to the task but only if he could have a law enforcement radio for his vehicle, which he received.

Just one night, Giblin, his spouse, Diane and Hanna and his spouse, Liz, were heading out to get crabs for meal and the radio crackled that a human body experienced been uncovered floating in the ship channel. Giblin wheeled all over to the funeral house where autopsies were being performed in those times, talked with the investigators and coroner and got again in his vehicle to choose the two couples to dinner.

Hanna mentioned Giblin appeared at his wife and claimed, “Those crabs should to be total tonight.”

In an additional convert of serendipity, Hanna reported he was invited to a conference by the Houston district legal professional and Haynes was at the event. When Hanna informed Haynes he was from Jefferson County, Haynes’ experience lit up.

“(Giblin) is the greatest decide I at any time experimented with a situation in entrance of,” Hanna claimed.

He was pretty satisfied to move that on to Giblin.

“I overlook him terribly. We remained buddies for extra than 50 several years. He was conscientious about in search of the effectively-remaining of the people of Jefferson County,” Hanna stated.

As Hanna experienced employed Giblin, Giblin, as initial assistant district lawyer, employed Maness in 1971.

“He had loads of prospect to go make a good deal of revenue, if your plan of achievements is to do that,” Maness mentioned. “He was a premiere civil servant. Which is what he needed to do. He was scholarly and he understood how to run a docket.”

Giblin in 1974 ran for and gained election as Jefferson County Choose. In August 1977, the state established the 252nd Prison District Court in Jefferson County and Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed Giblin as its initial choose, the office environment in which he served right until his retirement at the finish of 2001.

“He experienced one of the most effective judicial occupations in Jefferson County,” Maness said.

He presided in some of the hardest money murder scenarios arising in the county.

A Newsweek magazine posting from Oct. 17, 1983, observed this about the state of Texas from funds murderer James David Autry, who killed a convenience keep clerk all through a robbery in Port Arthur:

“The law was the law and Decide Leonard Giblin experienced normally run a tight, brisk and scrupulously honest demo. He swallowed tough, threw out (Autry’s) confession and imagined unhappily: ‘I may have enable a money murderer stroll the streets.’”

Autry was convicted irrespective of the confession that his attorney reported was coerced. The death sentence, determined by the jury, was upheld. Autry was executed in March 1982.

For Giblin, the challenging aspect for him remained. He had to established an execution date. He’d set dates for convicted money murderers prior to, but Autry would be the very first since Texas resumed executions featuring lethal injections.

“What started bothering me was the reality that I picked out the day he was to die. That is an awesome responsibility,” Giblin explained to The Enterprise. “If I wasn’t satisfied that he was responsible, I could have known as and stopped his execution. But I didn’t. And a large amount of judges appeared at what I did in the course of the demo and reported it seemed like I did it ideal.”

In that era, the Jefferson County Courthouse seemed a a lot more personal and particular put in which judges and lawyers could get about a prolonged, minimal-slung submitting cupboard in the district clerk’s place of work, consume espresso collectively and trade gossip and jokes. They were being industry experts working their jobs but conscious of the seriousness of the operate, explained Larry Thorne, decide of the 31th District Court docket who is retiring at year’s end.

“People trustworthy just about every other,” he stated. “Giblin was amusing. I was in the district attorney’s office environment and was the main prosecutor in his courtroom. He utilized to simply call me Frog simply because I was jumping up to object. He had an outstanding temperament and he beloved to giggle. You could constantly go to him and check with for help or path.”

Maness stated Giblin was simply just just pleasurable to be all-around.

“His mama spoke pure Cajun French, and he could notify people ol’ jokes,” Maness said.

As to the espresso breaks in the clerk’s office, none of that worried Maness, who experienced been a decide then the elected prison district lawyer.

“Everybody respected every single other and knew they experienced a career to do,” he claimed. “Jefferson County was blessed to have him.”

Dan Wallach is a freelance author.