There Has Been Some Increase in Civility on the Bench

A bit of digging into United States v. Dickinson (Ark. Terr. 1820), which I blogged about below, revealed this fact about Judge Scott, who decided the case. From A Documentary History Of Arkansas:

During a game of whist … in 1824, [Judge Scott’s colleague] Judge Selden contradicted a lady player’s account of the score. Judge Scott, who was also playing, called for an apology from Selden on behalf of the lady. Selden refused ….

Scott shot Selden dead in the duel, which was fought in Mississippi, in an apparent attempt to evade Arkansas anti-dueling laws. His career went on, though less successfully:

The duel proved costly to Scott’s career. Though surviving an attempt to remove him, in 1827, his reappointment to the high court was denied in Washington. This same year, Scott was a candidate in a special election to fill the vacancy created for a delegate to Congress by the dueling death of Henry W. Conway in 1827. He only garnered 116 votes. His low vote count was credited to his own dueling experience.

On May 31 of the following year, Scott confronted Edmund Hogan and accused him of lying about Scott during the campaign. The verbal argument escalated into a shoving match, during which Hogan struck Scott, knocking him down. Scott drew a spear from his walking cane and thrust it into Hogan’s body, mortally wounding him. Scott was charged with murder but later acquitted from charges as he was ruled to have acted in self-defense.

In 1827, the Circuit Courts were organized in Arkansas Territory. On April 11, Scott was appointed to the First District. He removed to lands formerly owned by the Indians (which later became Pope County) and laid out a town named Scotia. On November 2, 1829, Pope County was created, and Scott was appointed the first County Judge. In 1830, Scotia became the first permanent county seat….

Scott’s last official act was to enumerate the 1850 Pope County census. He died unexpectedly at Norristown (Pope County) on March 13, 1851 [at the age of 62].