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John A. Dixon Jr.

John A. Dixon, Jr. served as the Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court from 1980 to 1990.

John A. Dixon Jr.

Courtesy of The Law Library of Louisiana

John A. Dixon, Jr. Unidentified

John Allen Dixon Jr. was the nineteenth chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, serving in that capacity from March 1, 1980, to April 8, 1990. He was the first chief justice to win election to all three levels of the judiciary: District Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court. In his term as chief justice, Dixon guided the adoption of the Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement (1990) and the restructuring of criminal appellate jurisdiction in Louisiana.

Dixon was born in Orange, Texas, on April 8, 1920, to John A. Dixon Sr. and Louella Stark Dixon. The family moved to Shreveport in 1930, and Dixon graduated from Fair Park High School in 1936 and Centenary College in 1940. He worked as a teacher and coach at Tallulah High School from 1940 until February 1942, when he enlisted in the army during World War II. He served with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was captured during the invasion of Sicily. After twenty-one months as a prisoner of war, Dixon endured a forced march by the Germans for sixty days to escape the advancing Russian army. After his discharge from service in October 1945, Dixon entered the Tulane University School of Law and obtained a bachelor of laws degree; he passed the bar examination in 1947. He married Imogene Shipley of Hindville, Arkansas, on October 20, 1945, and they had three daughters: Stella Dixon Shepard, Diana Dixon Gingles, and Jeannette Dixon.

In 1947 Dixon entered the practice of law with the Shreveport firm of Booth, Lockard, and Jack. From 1954 to 1957 he practiced law in partnership with his brother Neil. In 1957 Dixon was elected to the office of district judge for the First Judicial District in Caddo Parish and was twice reelected. In October 1968 he won election to the Second Circuit Court of Appeal. In 1970 he was elected without opposition to the Supreme Court and was sworn in as an associate justice on January 1, 1971. Nine years later, on March 1, 1980, Dixon became chief justice in ceremonies held at the Caddo Parish courthouse in Shreveport. Dixon retired on his seventieth birthday, April 8, 1990, and moved back to his home in Shreveport, where he enjoyed his hobbies of photography, golf, and woodworking. He was an avid runner and completed the 1982 Boston Marathon when he was in his sixties. He died on February 22, 2003, in Shreveport.

In an interview with Paul Baier at the time of his retirement, Chief Justice Dixon said that he wished to be remembered as “hardworking, intellectually honest, a humanitarian.” Baier also noted that, in Dixon’s opinion for Board of Commissioners v. Splendour Shipping & Enterprises Co., his sympathy for the common citizen drove his desire “to infuse justice in the relationship between the State … and the private person.”