July/August 2013
Circuit Judge Morris S. Arnold retires

On Friday, August 30, Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold, Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, retired from the bench. He has served with this court for 21 years. Judge Arnold was born in Texarkana, TX in 1941. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Arkansas in 1965 and received his law degree from the University of Arkansas School of Law in 1968. He went on to Harvard Law School where he received his LL. M. in 1969 and his S.J.D. in 1971. He was a teaching Fellow at Harvard Law School and in 1970 was awarded a Knox Fellowship from Harvard to study at the University of London.

From 1971 to 1976, he taught at Indiana University Law School. Between 1978 and 1985, he held various positions at the University of Pennsylvania: professor of law and history, associate dean of the law school, director of the office of the president, and vice president. In 1981, he was named the Ben J. Altheimer Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he taught until 1984. He was Dean and Foskett Professor at Indiana University School of Law in 1985. He was also a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge University and served on the law faculty at Cambridge during the Lent and Easter terms of 1978. He taught summer law classes at the University of Texas (1977, 1982), University of Michigan (1981), and Stanford University (1985).

In 1985 he was appointed as a U.S. District Court Judge for the Western District of Arkansas, where he served until his appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in 1991. This appointment to the appellate bench was historically noteworthy since his brother, Richard Sheppard Arnold, was also on the court – it was the first time two brothers served concurrently on the same federal appellate court.

Judge Arnold is well known for his intelligence, humor, and his written opinions. He has authored opinions in many interesting cases. In Henderson v. Norris, he held that a sentence of life imprisonment for possession of less than a gram of cocaine was a violation of the Eighth Amendment (258 F.3d 706 (2001)). In C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball, he held that a producer of fantasy major league baseball games had a First Amendment right to use league players’ names and public information and that this right superseded the players’ state law rights of publicity (505 F.3d 818 (2007)).

He has also authored a number of books, articles, book reviews, and speeches, mostly on the subject of English legal history and colonial Arkansas. His book The Rumble of a Distant Drum: Quapaws and Old World Newcomers, 1673-1804 won the Booker Worthen Literary Prize and J. G. Ragsdale Book Award in Arkansas History. Arkansas: A Narrative History won the Arkansania Award. For even more information about Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold, see this biography from the Eighth Circuit Historical Society and this oral and visual history page from the University or Arkansas.