Maurice Cathey

Transcribed by : Tina Easley

 

Maurice Cathey became associated with Mr. Kircsh on January 1, 1933 and remained until his retirement in 1985. His practice spanned six decades, during which the law firm and the legal profession underwent massive changes.

When a child, Maurice Cathey became acquainted with Mr. Kirsch. Mr Cathey's father was first a deputy clerk and later circuit clerk for Greene County and had many contacts with Mr. Kirsch and other members of the Bar.

Mr. Cathey graduated from Washington University School of Law in 1931 at the age of twenty-one and worked as an associate with a St. Louis firm. The practice in St. Louis was not satisfactory. "We were in the very depths of the Depression and lawyers were a dime a dozen in St. Louis," Mr. Cathey said. When he was approached by Mr. Kirsch about coming back to Paragould, he agreed to do so at the princely salary of $65.00 per month.

Mr. Cathey was a tireless worker and believed that the majority of lawsuits were won through diligent preparation and research. He attempted to instill these principles in the lawyers who followed him into the firm.

Until an aneurysm diminished his hearing, Mr. Cathey was known as one of the top trial lawyers in Northeast Arkansas. He also became a probate specialist, and helped write the Probate Code in 1949.

It was Mr. Cathey who guided the firm into its continuing support of the organized Bar. He served as president of the Greene County and Northeast Arkansas Bar Associations. Then, after having served on almost every major committee of the Arkansas Bar Association, he became its president in 1966. It was during Mr. Cathey's tenure that the Arkansas Lawyer came into existence.

Mr. Cathey firmly believed in the duty of the legal profession to provide pro bono service. His most famous pro bono representation was that of an English girl in a child custody case. Over a period of twenty months, he was involved in four hearings in the Greene County Chancery Court, two cases in the Supreme Court of Arkansas, a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States, a trial in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, and an immigration proceeding to avoid deportation of the client. The case received international publicity and resulted in the young mother gaining custody of her daughter and returning to England. When Mr. Cathey visited Great Britain in 1969, he was a special guest of the British government at a luncheon in the House of Commons and at one of its sessions.

He served his community as director and vice president of what is now First National Bank, chairman of the administrative board of the First United Methodist Church, member of the executive board of Arkansas Methodist Hospital, and president of the Paragould Rotary Club.

Mr. Cathey retired from the practice in 1985 and died in 1990. He is survived by his daughter. His widow, Ina, and son, Donald, died in 1999.