Robert Alexander Richardson (1883-1895)

Further reading:

Obituary, Richmond Dispatch, re-printed in the Virginia Law Register, v. I (Nov. 1895), 544-545.

B.F. Buchanan, “Judge John A. Kelly,” The Virginia Law Register,” Vol. 6, No. 11 (March 1901), 723-731. Richardson and Kelly opened a law practice in Marion, Va., in 1865.

Brent Tarter, A Saga of the New South: Race, Law, and Public Debt in Virginia (2016), chapter 7, “The Coupon Cases.” Tarter discusses Richardson’s opinions in three cases from the period 1886-1892. Richardson upheld laws and regulations requiring payment of school taxes and liquor license fees in currency, not coupons. Previous legislation and court rulings had provided for the payment of taxes in interest coupons issued by bond holders who had funded the state debt, resulting in reduced revenues.

Peter Wallenstein, “‘These New and Strange Beings’: Women in the Legal Profession in Virginia, 1890-1990,” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 101, No. 2 (April 1993), 193-226. Richardson cast the deciding vote in a 3-2 decision, on June 14, 1894, to license Washington D.C. attorney Belva Lockwood to practice law in Virginia, making her the first woman granted the privilege in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Before she could travel to Richmond to take the oath qualifying her to practice, however, the decision was reversed by five new judges whose terms began on January 1, 1895. Women weren’t admitted to practice in Virginia for another 26 years, in 1920. Wallenstein cites an article in the New York Times, October 2, 1894:

When Mrs. Lockwood first presented her claims to practice law in Virginia before the Court of Appeals, that tribunal decided against her, four members being present and the court evenly divided on the question. A rehearing of the case was granted before a full court, and Judge Richardson, who was the absent member at the first hearing, decided the question as to whether women were admissable to practice law in Virginia by voting in favor of Mrs. Lockwood’s claims. Mrs. Lockwood is the only woman ever licensed to practice law in this state.

Research collections:

Duke University (David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
Durham, NC
William Mahone Papers, 1853-1895; 100,000 items.
Correspondence, letterbooks, and correspondence indexes, 1854-1901; pertains to politics and elections in Virginia and the Republican party in Virginia. A letter from Richardson to William Mahone, November 15, 1879, is cited in James T. Moore, “Black Militancy in Readjuster Virginia, 1879-1883,” Journal of Southern History, Vol. 41, No. 2 (May 1975), 172 (note 18).