Clarence Langston Yancey
Source: National Cyclopedia of American Biography
YANCEY, Clarence Langston, lawyer, was born in Highland, Tensas Parish, La., Aug. 17, 1909, son of Stephen Richard and Laura (Wood) Yancey, grandson of Richard Edwin and Josephine (Swayze) Yancey, great-grand son of Edwin Washington and Eliza Ann (Jeffries) Yancey, and great-great-grandson of Robert Jennings and Elizabeth ( ) Yancey. His father was a businessman.
Clarence L. Yancey received his early education at public schools in his native community and was graduated LL.B. in 1931 at Louisiana State University. Admitted to the Louisiana and Texas state bars in the latter year, during 1931-33 he maintained an independent practice of law in Houston, Tex., and Baton Rouge, La. From then to 1946 he was an attorney in the legal department of Standard Oil Company of New Jersey affiliates in Shreveport and New Orleans, La. In 1946 he became partner in the Shreveport law firm of Cook, Clark & Egan, and since 1957 he has been a partner in the successor firm of Cook, Clark, Egan, Yancey & King. The firm was founded in 1918 by Sidney M. and Frank M. Cook as Cook & Cook and in 1935 be came Cook, Cook & Egan when Charles D. Egan was made a partner. After the death of Frank M. Cook and the entry in 1942 as part ners of Elmo P. Lee and Clare C. Clark, the firm name became Cook, Lee, Clark & Egan, and in 1944 the name was again changed, to Cook, Clark & Egan. Engaged in a civil practice in trial and appellate courts, the firm emphasizes corporate, railroad, banking, oil and gas, real estate, insurance, and tax law and trust and probate matters.
Representative clients include Exxon Co., U.S.A., Allied Chemical Corp., Uniroyal, Inc., Government Employees Insurance Co., United States Casualty Co., Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., Aetna Life Insurance Co., The Commercial Union, Employers Fidelity Assurance Society, Employers Fire Insurance Co., American Employers Insurance Co., Rountree Olds Cadillac Co., Inc., Texas & Pacific Railway Co., Tensas Delta Land Co., and the Commercial National Bank of Shreveport. He was involved for nearly twenty years in litigation to determine whether or not the state of Louisiana had the right to levy and collect taxes on oil and gas produced from private property situated within Barksdale Air Force Base, a large federal reservation in Louisiana. He represented several oil companies including Murphy Oil Corp., Natural Gas & Oil Corp., and Mississippi River Fuel Corp. The first suit was filed against the collector of revenue of Louisiana at Baton Rouge, culminating in a decision unfavorable to the oil companies in Murphy Corp. v. Fontenot (225 La. 379; 73 So. 2d 180, 1954). A writ of certiorari or review was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States (348 U.S. 831, 75 S. Ct. 54, 99 L.Ed. 655). Convinced that the decision was in error, he urged the same points of law in federal court in Mississippi River Fuel Corp. v. Fontenot, a case involving the state severance tax which was decided unfavorably to the oil companies by the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and affirmed by the United States Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit (234 F. 2d 898, 1956). Again the Supreme Court of the United States refused to review the decision (352 U.S. 916, 77 S.Ct. 213, 1 L.Ed. 2d 122). Believing in the principle of law that the state had no right to exercise its power of taxation over the federal domain, he filed a third suit in the state court in Bossier Parish, La., contesting the validity of ad valorem taxes on personal property located on the local airbase. Mississippi Fuel Corp. v. Waggoner was lost by him in the State District Court and in the State Court of Appeal, the judges of the latter commenting that although there appeared to be merit in the argument, they could not reverse the State Supreme Court and the higher federal appellate courts (151 So. 2d 575, 1963). A turning point in the litigation was reached in 1963 when a writ of certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court of the United States after the Supreme Court of Louisiana had denied such a writ. The case was argued for the oil companies before the Supreme Court of the United States by Yancey, and without a dissent the state courts were reversed and the Supreme Court, speaking through justice Black, held that the contentions of the oil companies were correct and the state had no authority to tax (376 U.S. 369, 84 S.Ct. 857, 11 L.Ed. 2d 110, 1964). This, however, was not the end of the litigation. In view of the large sums of money involved, the tax authorities of the state decided that they should undertake to show the courts that there was a distinction between the state severance tax and the state ad valorem tax. Accordingly, to decide the legal points urged by the state, the suit of Mississippi River Fuel Corp. v. Cocreham was instituted. The U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana agreed with the state but was reversed by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Fifth Circuit in 1968 (382 F.2d 929). The matter was finally settled when certiorari, which had been applied for by the state of Louisiana, was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States (390 U.S. 1014, 88 S. Ct. 1264, 20 L.Ed. 2d 164).
In addition to his practice, Mr. Yancey was a member of the Judicial Council of Louisiana during 1960-68, and from 1964 to 1968 he was a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association's committee which drafted a revision of the corporation laws of Louisiana. In 1966 he was a member of a committee appointed by the governor of Louisiana to draft a state code of administrative procedure, and from 1969 to 1973 he was a member of the Louisiana Judiciary Commission. From 1943 to 1946 he was editor of the judge Advocate journal, the journal of the Judge Advocates Association.
During 1960-70 he lectured on race relations before church and civic groups. Mr. Yancey's local activities have included service as president of the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce in 1967, a director of the Shreveport Beautification Foundation in 1963-64, and a member of the Greater Shreveport Master Plan Committee during 1951-56. He has been a trustee of the Southwestern Legal Foundation, Dallas, since 1972. In the field of education he has served since 1970 as a director of the Louisiana State University Foundation and as a member of the regional board of the Institute of International Education, Houston. During 1950-56 he was a member of the Caddo Parish School Board in Shreveport. From 1942 to 1946, during and after the Second World War, Mr. Yancey served in the U.S. Army and was advanced in rank from 1st lieutenant to major. Stationed initially at Camp Joseph T. Robinson, Ark., after graduation at the judge Advocate General's School, Ann Arbor, Mich., he was assigned to the Office of the Judge Advocate General, where he remained until he was released from active duty. While in the latter post he was assistant executive officer of the office and public relations officer and later was executive officer of the war crimes office. Since 1946 he has been a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve Corps. A fellow of the American Bar Foundation, of which he was chairman in 1972-73, and a member of the foundation board during 1971-73, Mr. Yancey is a member of the International, American, Louisiana State (pres. 1956-57), and Shreveport (pres. 1951) bar associations, American College of Probate Counsel, Judicial Conference of the United States of the Fifth Circuit, Council of the Louisiana State Law Institute, English-Speaking Union of the United States, Reserve Officers Association, Foreign Policy Association, Louisiana State University Law School Alumni Association (pres. 1965), the Bienville Club of New Orleans, the Tarshar Society and the Shreveport and Shreveport Country clubs of Shreveport, and the Cotillion Club of Holiday in Dixie. He is a founder, member, and former director of the judge
Advocates Association. His religious affiliation is with the First Methodist Church, Shreveport, for which he is a teacher of the Men's Class. Politically he is a Democrat. Mr. Yancey was married in Baton Rouge, La., Mar. 13, 1937, to Irene Elizabeth, daughter of George Lea and Irene (Keller) Gayden of East Feliciana Parish, La., and has three children: Martha Gayden, who married James William Carr; Stephen Richard; and Laura Irene.
Irene and Clarence Yancey