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Thomas Ashford Bogle
The Michigan Alumnus 751

THOMAS ASHFORD BOGLE, '881, 1852-1921


At a meeting of the University Senate 
held March 20, a memorial to the late
 Thomas Ashford Bogle was presented
 by a committee from the Law School, composed of Professors Wilgus, Goddard, and Sunderland. While the memo
rial is too long to reprint in full, that 
portion dealing with his development of 
the practice court in the Law School is 
particularly interesting.

Professor Bogle was born on a farm
 near Cambridge, Guernsey County, Ohio, 
 May 14, 1852, but removed to Kansas
 with his parents when he was 16 year s
old and attended the State Normal
 School at Leavenworth. Following a
 period of some eight years as a teacher 
and a school superintendent, he eventual
ly took up the practice of law, for which 
he had been preparing for some time. His firm became attorneys for the Atchi
son, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad and
 in 1883 he became prosecuting attorney 
for Marion County. 

An Early Experience

This was at the beginning of the enforce
ment of the prohibition law in Kansas in hos
tile frontier territory. The work of the conscientious prosecutor in such surroundings
 was strenuous, and even dangerous. Mr. 
Bogle's qualities were of the first order for
 such a situation and he soon gained a repu
tation for ability, courage and determination 
that extended throughout the state and into
 Oklahoma and Texas, where he was occa
sionally called to aid in the trial of cases. 
On one occasion while he was prosecutor he 
had accompanied the sheriff to make an arrest
 of someone charged with a serious crime. 
When they reached home, on the train, they
 found a great mob gathered bent on lynching
 their prisoner. Mr. Bogle directed the sheriff
 to stay on the train and keep the prisoner. 
 He got off, hunted out the leader of the mob 
and there and then informed him that if he
 did not at once call off the crowd, and if the 
prisoner was lynched, he would prosecute him 
and all who participated for murder, and never
 cease till he had convicted and hung them. 
 The mob disappeared. 

Mr. Bogle, however, was not satisfied 
with his knowledge of law and he came 
to the University where he was gradu
ated from the Law School in 1888, even
tually settling in Ann Arbor to practice 
his profession in the community.

Professor Bogle Joins the Law Faculty

In 1893 Professor Mechem of the Law De
partment organized a court, which met evenings. A demand for its extension led the
 Regents to establish a Practice Court, to be
 in charge of a member of the Faculty. Two
 courses, one in Common Law and one in Code 
Practice, were to be given. Mr. Mechem did 
this during the second semester for the sen
iors. A demand for a whole year of it followed, and Mr. Mechem was confronted with 
the alternative of giving up his other work 
or finding someone to take the court work. 
Mr. Bogle was invited to do this. There was 
much local opposition on the part of others
 who wished to get the place. Whether or
 not a knowledge of his ability, shown in a 
suit he had the year before prosecuted to the
 Supreme Court against the Regents of the 
University, had anything to do with Mr.
 Bogle's selection we cannot say. He, how
ever, was chosen. He resigned the position
 of City Attorney of Ann Arbor, which he 
then held, and accepted. His name first ap
pears in the Announcement for 1894-95. 

The Practice Court was organized with a 
judge, clerk, sheriff, court-room, jury room, 
 clerk's office, with the records, books, blanks 
and papers used in actual practice. A law
 term, a jury term, and appellate sessions were 
to be held; issues of law, raised by pleadings 
upon statements of facts, and issues of fact, 
 arising from actual occurrences arranged for 
the purpose, were to be provided. The state
ments of facts and the "arrangement" of the
 actual occurrences were to be prepared by the 
judge of the court. Issues of law were argued 
before and decided by various members of the 
Faculty to whom they were assigned. Issues
 of fact were determined by the verdict of a 
jury from the testimony of witnesses from
 "things actually seen and heard," after argu
ments by attorneys and instruction by the
 judge of the Practice Court, in the way such
 trials are ordinarily conducted. This "jury 
trial" was new in the curriculum of any law 
school at the time. 

The Growth of the Practice Court

The conception was that of Mr. Mechem. 
 Its success depended upon the proper roan to
 carry it on. Mr. Bogle soon proved he was 
that man. For the first ten years of this work 
the senior classes were very large—from 200
 to 300. They were divided into groups of
 four—two attorneys for plaintiff and two for 
defendants. Each group was to try one "law" 
and one "jury" case during the senior year. 
 This required providing from 50 to 75 state
ments of facts, involving issues of law, and 
"arranging" a like number of situations from 
which a jury trial could be evolved, each year, 
 in addition to hearing and passing on all the 
papers involved in the preparation and trial
 of such cases, —tried as they might be pursuant 
to the laws of any state of the Union. 

The work involved was exacting to the
 utmost degree, and tremendous in quantity, 
 frequently requiring not only all the hours of 
the regular school day but night sessions till
 nearly midnight as well. For a few years 
after the Practice Court was established Mr. 
Mechem aided in "arranging" the cases to be 
tried by the jury. From the beginning and
 continuously since issues of law, after the 
pleadings were complete, were tried by mem
bers of the Faculty. With these exceptions, 
 for the first seven years the work of the court
 was carried by Professor Bogle. No one with 
a less robust constitution than he had origi
nally could have stood it as long as he did; 
 and it finally broke him down. 

Professor Mechem, best able to speak of 
this work from the beginning, says: "He 
brought to the work that unfailing enthusiasm, 
that great gift of teaching, that untiring devo
tion which made him the great teacher he was, 
 as well as that unique and genial personality
 which made us all love him as we did. He
 developed and expanded the pleading and prac
tice side of the work greatly with the added 
time, and gave to the court a dignity and an
 air of reality which made it what it became 
under his charge. 

It is safe to say that in no court in the
 country were the proprieties and decorum of
 court procedure—so necessary for the orderly
 administration of justice—observed more
 fully than in the Practice Court of the University of Michigan. The court as developed 
here was later adopted, or partially adopted, 
 in many other law schools, notably Columbia, 
 Cornell, and Pennsylvania, and it was, per
haps, the most distinctive addition to the usual
 Law School curriculum made in recent years. 
 The best statement of the necessity and pos
sibility of such a court is one by Professor 
Bogle himself in a discussion before the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar 
Association in 1902.

His Years in the Law School

Professor Bogle taught in the Law 
School for twenty-four years and was
 recognized as one of the great law teach
ers in the country. "It is doubtful if any 
of the many who have taught in the 
School from its beginning was ever more 
admired and loved as a teacher than he 
was by those who passed before him year 
after year." Because of his great en
dowment of rigor and strength he could not realize that these could break and he
 continued without rest or recreation and
 with unabated zeal until that break came. 
 For the last ten years or so of his life, 
 his health and strength were precarious. 
 He died in St. Joseph's Sanitarium on 
June 17, 1921. He is survived by his
 wife, who was Miss Alice Burgard, of 
Osawatomie, Kansas, four daughters and 
two sons.