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Harmon Drew Jr.

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Richard Harmon Drew Jr.
Minden Ward 1 or City Judge
In office
November 1, 1984 – 1988
Preceded byMarshall R. Pearce (interim)
Succeeded byR. Harmon Drew Sr.
26th Judicial District Court Judge
In office
March 20, 1988 – 1998
Preceded byCecil C. Lowe
Succeeded byJohn M. Robinson
Judge of the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal Salary: $148,000
In office
1998 – Incumbent
Personal details
Born(1946-11-11)November 11, 1946
Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana, USA
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Jean Talley Drew
RelationsR. Harmon Drew Sr. (father)

Harmon Caldwell Drew (grandfather)
Richard Cleveland Drew (great-grandfather)
Richard Maxwell Drew (great-great-grandfather)
Joseph Barton Elam Jr. (maternal grandfather)
Joseph Barton Elam Sr. (great-grandfather)
Charles Wheaton Elam (great-uncle)

Harvey Locke Carey (uncle by marriage)
ChildrenRichard Harmon Drew, III
Georgia Drew Boswell
OccupationJudge; Attorney; Musician
(1) A lawyer and judge, Drew is also known throughout Louisiana for his Harmon Drew Band, which has performed sporadically for more than four decades.

(2) Drew is descended from among the first inhabitants of Webster Parish.

(3) Drew and his wife Jean operate as a legal team in his appellate court office in Shreveport.

Richard Harmon Drew Jr. (born November 11, 1946), is a Louisiana fifth-generation judge, legal lecturer, and rhythm-and-blues musician. He is serving a second 10-year term (first elected 1998) on his state's Second Circuit Court of Appeal, based in Shreveport.


Drew is a native of Minden, the seat of Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana, where he and his wife, the former Jean Talley, reside in the Drew ancestral home at 1002 Broadway Street. The home was built by the Minden businessman and later city council member William L. Life (1887–1972) and was acquired about 1915 by Drew's paternal grandfather. Drew's father, R. Harmon Drew Sr., grandfather Harmon Caldwell Drew, great-grandfather Richard Cleveland Drew, and great-great-grandfather Richard Maxwell Drew, all held judgeships in Minden and Webster or surrounding parishes. The Drew family, under its patriarch, Newett Drew, settled Webster Parish about the Overton community in 1818, prior to the establishment of either the parish or the city of Minden.[1]

Drew is also a great-grandson of Samuel Mays Grigsby, a physician who died of pneumonia in 1892 at the age of thirty-two. Dr. Grigsby was from 1891 until his death the coroner of Webster Parish.[2] Dr. Thomas Drew Carey (born 1947), a dermatologist from Ruston, another great-grandson of Dr. Grigsby and a cousin of Judge Harmon Drew Jr., has in his possession Grigsby's diploma, graduation invitation, and scalpel. Grigsby graduated in 1887 from Alabama Medical College in Mobile, Alabama. The Grigsbys resided on Main Street near the Webster Parish Library in a house still standing. Mrs. Grigsby, Dr. Carey's great-grandmother, exchanged houses thereafter with Sam Webb, the founder of a since defunct Minden hardware store, operated for years by the aforementioned Will Life.[3]

Drew was born to Richard Harmon Drew Sr. (1917–1995), and the former Margaret Taylor Elam (1919–1977), a native of Mansfield in De Soto Parish who grew up in Shreveport and Baton Rouge. Margaret Drew was a direct descendant of U.S. President Zachary Taylor through Taylor's son, Confederate General Richard Taylor. Mrs. Zachary Taylor was also named Margaret.[4]

Margaret Drew's paternal grandfather was Joseph Barton Elam Sr., the first mayor of Mansfield, a state representative, and a U.S. representative. Her uncle, Charles Wheaton Elam, was also a state representative and a founder of the Louisiana State University Law Center. Margaret and Harmon Drew Sr. were married in an Episcopal Church in Baton Rouge on Pearl Harbor Day 1940, exactly a year before the attack on the United States. Drew and his two sisters, Elizabeth Weaver and Caldwell Colvin, were reared, like their mother, as Episcopalians. The senior Drew, however, retained Presbyterian affiliation. Harmon and Jean Drew are members of St. John's Episcopal Church near their home though Jean was reared as a Methodist.

In 1952, while speeding through Minden, the singer Lefty Frizzell, originally from Corsicana, Texas, crashed his Cadillac into the Drew home. Drew Jr. slept through the mishap, but he recalls that his father having always thought that Frizzell had a "bad attitude"."[5]

Early years and education[edit]

Since 1962, when he was a junior at Minden High School, Drew has performed with his own successful band, now called the "Harmon Drew Super Group".

Prior to his graduation in 1964 from MHS, Drew was an elected class officer for three years and the Student Council president in his senior year. He went to Boys' State leadership school in Baton Rouge in 1963 and was named the outstanding delegate from Webster, Bienville, and Claiborne parishes. He took accelerated classes in high school and was a member of the golf team.

In 1968, Drew received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He then attended the Louisiana State University Law Center, from which in 1971 he obtained his Juris Doctor degree. He was the vice president of the LSU Law student body in his senior year.[6]

Drew was as a first lieutenant in the United States Army and was thereafter a member of the staff of U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston Jr. He was a member of the Drew, White, Drew, and Drew law firm in Minden and served as legal counsel for the Shreveport Musicians Union.[7]

On June 28, 1970, the Drews married at the Talley home in Bogalusa, in Washington Parish in southeastern Louisiana. At LSU Law School, Drew met Jean Talley, who graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1963. Not only is Jean also a lawyer, but so were her father, grandfather, and an aunt. Her father, Bascom D. Talley Jr. (1915–1971), was from 1963 to 1964 the president of the Louisiana Bar Association.[8]

The Drews as a team[edit]

Like Harmon Drew Sr., Harmon and Jean Drew are Democrats. In 1990, Mrs. Drew ran for the same judgeship that her husband now holds, but she was defeated by fellow Democrat Henry Newton Brown Jr., 48,935 (57 percent) to 36,217 (43 percent). Of the nine parishes in the district, Jean Drew won in Webster, Winn (Winnfield), and Lincoln (Ruston) parishes and lost Caldwell (Columbia) and Jackson (Jonesboro) parishes by fewer than one hundred votes each.

Jean Drew is now her husband's law clerk as well as a legal researcher and coauthor. Harmon calls her his "soul mate." In 1972–1988, the Drews practiced law together in Minden.

Drew was also an assistant district attorney for the Bossier (pronounced BO ZURE) – Webster district, Minden office, from 1974 to 1983. In 1983–1984, he was designated first assistant district attorney.[7] He served under District Attorneys Charles A. Marvin of Minden (1929–2003) and Henry Brown, the same Henry Brown who had defeated Mrs. Drew in the judicial contest of 1990.

Harmon and Jean Drew teach the law of search and seizure and the criminal code to some three thousand peace officers each year. Two of their books are updated annually to explain amendments passed by the Louisiana legislature. Their popular True Blue Drew Book explains criminal law amendments in simple terms. Several thousand copies are sold throughout the state.[9]

In 2008, Mrs. Drew required emergency abdominal surgery that saved her life but left her in need of repeated blood transfusions because of debilitating anemia. In December 2013, law enforcement personnel in northwest Louisiana held a blood drive because of Mrs. Drew's needs and to honor the couple for their teaching of the peace officers.[9]

The Drews have two children. Richard Harmon Drew, III (born 1974), obtained a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. Known as "Richard," he graduated from LSU Law School in 2009 and worked at the Department of Justice as an Honors Program admit. Richard comprises the sixth consecutive generation of Drews involved with the practice of law. Georgia Drew Boswell (born 1979), wife of Devron Delton Boswell, is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. She holds a Master of Science degree in hospitality and tourism from the University of New Orleans and is employed by Actavis Pharmaceuticals in New Orleans. On March 12, 2014, the Boswells' 15-month-old son, Drew Joseph Boswell, died suddenly in his crib at his home in New Orleans.[10]

Three judgeships[edit]

In 1984, Drew's father stepped down from a second nonconsecutive term as the Minden municipal court judge, a position created in 1928 and originally held by the senior Drew's uncle.

Drew was elected to a six-year term to succeed his father. He defeated a Minden friend and legal colleague, Democrat Paul Edward Kitchens (born 1945), for the position. Kitchens' brother, Democrat Graydon K. Kitchens Jr., had held the city judge's post for two years prior to the tenure of R. Harmon Drew Sr. Graydon K. Kitchens Sr., a law partner of Governor Robert F. Kennon in Minden, was the DA on an interim basis from 1941 to 1942.[11]

Harmon Drew Sr. who had preceded his son on the city court, returned for an interim appointment to the position after Drew Jr. stepped down in 1988. Drew Sr. was selected by the Louisiana Supreme Court to fill the city court position pending the election of Democrat John Cecil Campbell over the Minden attorney Randy D. Elkins.[12]

Drew Jr. left the city bench when he was elected in 1988 as the Minden judge of the 26th Judicial District Court, which serves Bossier and Webster parishes. Starting in 1989, the 26th District increased in judgeships from four to five.[13] Drew succeeded the retiring Democrat Cecil C. Lowe of Minden, who had run against Drew's father for district attorney in 1952, and both had lost to Louis H. Padgett Jr. (1913–1980). Drew assumed office on March 20, 1988, his seating having been delayed by litigation over the configuration of the state's district court system.[14] His father swore Drew into the district judgeship.[15]

Drew was subsequently reelected to this court without opposition in 1990 and in 1996.

In 1998, while still on the district court, Drew was elected without opposition to his current circuit judgeship. In 2008, he was unopposed for reelection to a second ten-year term on the court. Drew, like his grandfather Harmon Caldwell Drew, holds the highest judgeship ever obtained by election for a Webster Parish attorney because no lawyer from the parish has yet to be elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court, the highest tribunal in the state.

The appeal court handles cases from twenty northern Louisiana parishes; the members sit in three-judge panels, much as their national court counterparts.

Drew's affiliations include the American, Louisiana, and Shreveport bar associations. He is a speaker on criminal law, ethics, and professionalism. He co-founded and is a former owner of Nuts & Bolts Fun judicial seminars.

The music continues[edit]

Drew has been a musician for a decade longer than he has been a lawyer. His 12-piece band injects a Louisiana flavor into early 1960s rhythm and blues. In 2001, readers of Shreveport Bossier magazine selected the group as their favorite North Louisiana entertainers. That same year, the band took 240 fans on a 7-day Caribbean cruise. The Harmon Drew Super Group originally performed in northwest Louisiana, but over the years the group has entertained in locations as far away as Montgomery, Alabama; Destin, Florida; Oklahoma City; San Angelo, Texas, and Elvis Presley's birthplace of Tupelo, Mississippi.

On April 21, 2002, the Super Group was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame.

In a 2001 interview, Drew told entertainment writer Margaret Martin of the Shreveport Times that he began his musical career by "tinkering with the keyboard by ear [because] I never really learned to read music. I'm not talented, but I'm diligent." Martin noticed that Drew keeps a keyboard on his desk. The walls of his office are filled with law books and portraits of his grandfather and great-grandfather, both of whom once held the judgeship that he occupies.

Drew's original band, the "Monks", played mostly Bob Dylan tunes. Two years later Drew coined a new name, "Ivy Peebles Medicine Show Band", to recognize the late justice of the peace who had performed the marriage of the band's one-time drummer, Max Kees. Early gigs were mostly for Minden High School after-football game dances. They often were paid $25 ($Error when using {{Inflation}}: |index=US (parameter 1) not a recognized index. today), which they were pleased to receive in the middle 1960s. The band continued as Drew went through college and law school.

Martin summed up Drew this way: "Music is in his blood, but he is serious about his law career and proud that he is a fifth generation lawyer/judge."

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  1. "Drew Family". Retrieved June 5, 2011.
  2. List of Webster Parish Coroners, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1871", Webster Parish Police Jury publication
  3. Statement of Dr. Thomas Carey, Ruston, Louisiana, December 21, 2010
  4. Minden Herald and Webster Review, May 2, 1957, p.8
  5. Judge Harmon Drew Jr. to Earlene Mendenhall Lyle, Lyle newsletter, May 4, 2008
  6. "Drew Wins LSU Office", Minden Press-Herald, April 27, 1970, p. 1
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Harmon Drew Jr. runs for ward judge post", Minden Press-Herald, June 7, 1984, p. 1
  8. "Past Presidents of the Louisiana Bar Association". Retrieved October 13, 2014.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Angela Thomas, "Local Law Enforcement Agencies Holding Blood Drives in Honor of Jean & Harmon Drew", December 2, 2013". KEEL Radio. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  10. Drew Joseph Boswell obituary, New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 14, 2014
  11. List of District Attorneys of Webster Parish, Webster Parish Centennial Booklet, 1971
  12. Minden Press-Herald, October 2, 1988, p. 1
  13. "5th judge approved for 26th District", Minden Press-Herald, June 21, 1989, p. 1
  14. "Racial litigation expected to delay seating of judge", Minden Press-Herald, January 22, 1988, p. 1
  15. "Judge Drew taking oath", Minden Press-Herald, March 20, 1988, p. 1

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Marshall R. Pearce (interim)
Minden, Louisiana City Judge

Richard Harmon Drew Jr.

Succeeded by
R. Harmon Drew Sr. interim
Preceded by
Cecil C. Lowe
Judge of the Louisiana 26th Judicial District Court (Bossier and Webster parishes)

Richard Harmon Drew Jr.

Succeeded by
John M. Robinson
Preceded by
Judge of Louisiana 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal in Shreveport

Richard Harmon Drew Jr.

Succeeded by

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