Former ABA President L. Stanley Chauvin, known for his sense of humor, dies at 86

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Stanley Chauvin headshot

Former ABA President L. Stanley Chauvin Jr. pictured in the October 1990 issue of the ABA Journal. ABA Journal file photo.

Former ABA President L. Stanley Chauvin Jr. of Louisville, Kentucky, died May 12 at age 86.

Chauvin, who became ABA president in 1989, was “genial and good-humored,” the Louisville Courier Journal reports.

The ABA Journal described Chauvin in 1990 as “an ebullient, down-to-earth backslapper with a fondness for direct action and direct speech.”

Known for his joking, Chauvin told the ABA Journal in 1990 that he planned to slow down after his presidency of the association. “I told someone I was going to sleep a month and then take a nap,” he said.

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo had this comment: “The ABA is saddened to hear of the passing of former ABA President L. Stanley Chauvin last week, and our condolences go to his wife, C’Allen, and his entire family. Stan made significant contributions to the legal profession, including groundbreaking trips to China and the Soviet Union to advance the rule of law, fighting to preserve the independence of the judiciary, working for equal access to the courts, and persuading law firms to devote resources to pro bono work. As ABA president, Stan also helped forge a new ethics code that extended the canons of conduct beyond the courtroom.”

Chauvin also backed guidelines for law firms dealing with lawyers who are dependent on alcohol or drugs, focused on the needs of children, and encouraged durable powers of attorney that, in his words, kick in “when you kick out.”

Chauvin was born in Franklin, Kentucky, to a father who was elected jailer, sheriff and then judge, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. He also was an aide to Democratic U.S. Sen. Earle Clements and ran the Kentucky presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy.

An obituary at said Chauvin was known “not only as a lawyer’s lawyer but as a litigant’s lawyer, approaching each case as a problem to be solved, not a fight to be won.”

According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Chauvin made a name for himself in one of his first cases after graduation from the University of Louisville’s law school. Chauvin was seeking the return of a stolen saddleback Walker hound.

Chauvin won his case after the dog was turned loose in the courtroom and answered to the name called out by Chauvin’s client.

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