Herbert Lionel Faulkner


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Photo of Herbert Lionel Faulkner

Herbert Faulkner, undated
Photo: David Stone

H.L. (Bert) Faulkner’s law career extended for almost seventy years. He was a sheriff, U.S. Marshall and attorney. He would represent almost every major mining company operating in Alaska during his lifetime.

Bert Faulkner was born on November 14, 1882 in Maitland, Nova Scotia. His father, who was originally from Boston, died when he was 5. He completed high school in Nova Scotia. He worked in Boston on an ice wagon, moved to the Red River Valley of North Dakota, and eventually ended up in Ketchikan, Alaska in 1903, where he worked for the Tongass Trading Company. In 1904 he was appointed Ketchikan police chief. He held that position until his assignment to Juneau in 1907 as U.S. deputy marshal. Soon after, he began studying law at night at the law office of Lewis P. Shackleford.

Faulkner as U.S. marshal was to investigate a murder that would ultimately garner national attention. The following are his words:

The Stroud Case

"This is a case which attracted national attention. The commission of Stroud’s first murder was during my term as U.S. Marshal.

I think I can give you an outline of the facts from my memory. A motion picture was produced a few years ago, depicting Stroud’s life. However, the producers, in dealing with the facts, exercised a wide degree of poetic license and mingled some fiction with reality. I do not think I shall ever forget the Stroud case. The facts are as follows:

One evening in 1909, about 8 p.m., I walked down town in Juneau on my way to my office. At the corner of Fourth and Franklin Streets a man named Dickinson was standing near the front door of his home. He called to me and said something unusual had happened in a little two-room cabin next door to the Dickinson home. He had heard a gunshot and a man had run out of the cabin and down Franklin Street toward the waterfront. I pushed open the door of the cabin and it opened against a dead man’s body lying on the floor. He had been shot through the heart. We sent for the coroner. We had no clue then as to the identity of either the dead man or his assailant. The local police man arrived a little later at the morgue and he said the dead man had been employed as bartender at a local tavern. After 3 hours of investigation and inquiries, the local town policeman, Mulcahey, and I found that the dead man and a young man named Stroud were rivals for the favors of a local prostitute. We visited the lady’s place of abode and found the young man, who gave us his name as Robert Stroud. After rather lengthy questioning and the discovery of a revolver which proved, on examination the next day, to have been the murder weapon, I got oral statements from both Stroud and his lady friend to the effect that the woman had, early the evening, quarreled with the dead man; he struck her in the face and left her: she told Stroud of this and Stroud shot and killed his rival. He finally admitted the killing, but claimed it was justifiable homicide. Stroud said the woman, at the time she had told him of the quarrel with Stroud’s rival, had urged him to commit the homicide. She denied making such a request although she wanted vengeance. I arrested them both. The woman was not prosecuted. Stroud pleaded guilty to first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the United States penitentiary at McNeil’s Island, State of Washington. I had notified Stroud’s mother, who lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and she and her daughter came to Juneau, where they spent practically the remainder of their lives at hard work, devoting all their earnings to pay the expense of numerous attempts to have Robert paroled or pardoned.

A short time after he had arrived at McNeil’s Island, he stabbed a guard in an attempt to kill him. He was then transferred to another U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. There he stabbed another guard and killed him. Then he was convicted and sentenced to death. His mother continued her efforts to save him and went to Washington, D.C. to present a petition to President Woodrow Wilson for commutation of sentence to life imprisonment. Wilson was on a tour of the south at the time and she found him in New Orleans. He was riding in some parade in a limousine with open windows. She succeeded in thrusting her petition through the window, and Wilson granted her an interview and commuted her son’s sentence to life.

After that, Stroud stabbed another guard at Leavenworth, but, since the guard did not die and Stroud was already under two life sentences, no further punishment could be given him; but he was transferred to the U.S. prison at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay, where he became engaged in the study of birds.

One day a bird with a broken leg found its way into his cell. He cared for it and was able to heal the leg. He then became interested in birds. He read everything available on the subject and wrote a book about bird life. This attracted widespread attention and many attempts were made by individuals, groups, organizations and newspapers to obtain a pardon for him in his advancing years. All these failed. He died in 1963 after having served about 55 years in prison."

Faulkner married his wife Roma Jameson on May 8, 1911. Roma had come to Juneau as a teacher in 1909. She was a graduate of the University of Washington. Her brother Earl Jameson, a reporter predicted that if she would come to Alaska she would marry the first man she met after coming down the gang plank. Jameson checked the new arrivals for news items as did Marshal Faulkner, whose job it was to check arrivals for wanted persons. An introduction was easily arranged and marriage confirmed Jameson’s prediction. They would have two children Jean and Malcolm.

Faulkner passed the bar in 1914 and took over Shackleford’s practice. Shackleford’s principal client was the Alaska Gastineau Mining Company, led by Bartlett (Bart) Thane. Thane was developing a world class mining operation in Juneau at the time. Thane and Faulkner immediately developed a friendship. A very important component of Thane mining operation was the development of a hydro-electric project on Federal lands. Faulkner secured a 50 year power permit for the Salmon Creek and later in 1915 Annex Creek power projects into what would become the Joint Power Permit. It was the first federal power permit issued in Alaska, and was considered by the American power industry as a model.

Faulkner understood the labor unrest in the mining industry that was sweeping the country. One of the principal changes proposed was for miners to go to an eight hour work day. Faulkner convinced Thane to change to an eight hour work day before it became law because he said, “It is inevitable and you will build good will if you implement it before it becomes law.”

Thane introduced Faulkner to the principals of Kennecott Copper Corporation and Wendell P. Hammon. He would grow his practice to represent Kennecott, Nome Dredging, United States Refining Company, Chichagoff Mining Company, Kensington Mines, Jualin and Alaska Juneau Mining Company.

In addition to having several large mining clients, Faulkner was a very active trial lawyer defending many individuals for various crimes. The following is one such case in his words:

U.S. vs. Scataglini

This was a case of a clever defendant in a criminal trial, who was able to deceive the judge, jury, prosecuting attorney, and his own lawyer.

Ettore Scataglini was a young Italian who had worked in the Alaska Gastineau gold mine. He quit the mine and tried to make a living driving a passenger taxicab between Juneau and Silverbow Basin, four miles from Juneau, where the main buildings of the Alaska Gastineau mine, including the machine and blacksmith shops, bunkhouses, boarding house, etc., were situated. He was indicted for assault with a dangerous weapon on a miner at the dry room in the bunkhouse.

Scataglini was a happily married man with a 7-year-old son, law-abiding, well liked, sober and industrious. The miner in the case had circulated a rather slanderous statement and rumor accusing Scataglini of having illicit relations with the wife of another miner. Scataglini was indignant about this and on a trip to the Basin, he searched for his accuser and found him in the dry room. All parties at the trial, including the defendant, his accuser, and an eye witness, agreed that Scataglini, who was a tall, handsome, muscular man, pushed his accuser against the wall, demanded a retraction of the slander, and threatened to beat him, although no blows were struck. The accusing witness and his friend, who corroborated him, went further in their statements and said that Scataglini had pulled a revolver from his hip pocket and said he would kill his accuser. Scataglini denied this very emphatically. These two witnesses both said the gun had a barrel 16 inches long. I had never heard of a revolver with so long a barrel and it seemed quite incredible that anyone would or could carry such a long instrument in his hip pocket. I, therefore, did not cross examine the two witnesses but confined my argument to the jury to the apparent falsity of their testimony concerning the 16-inch barrel. The jury acquitted the defendant on the first ballot.

About a month after the trial I was in the local gun store and I asked the owner whether he had ever seen a revolver with a 16-inch barrel. He said “No.” Then he reflected and said, “Yes, I had one here a year ago.” I said, “Where is it now?” The answer was, “I sold it to Ettore Scataglini.”

Faulkner continued to represent Bart Thane and his associated companies even after Thane’s untimely death in 1927. In 1934, the Alaska Juneau Mining Company (AJ Mine) negotiated the purchase of all of the Alaska Gastineau properties and assets. Faulkner represented the Alaska Gastineau Company. Philip Bradley, then president of the AJ Mine, was so impressed with Faulkner that following the purchase he hired him as chief legal counsel, and placed him on the AJ Mine Board of Directors, on which he remained on until 1956.

Faulkner was a sole practicing attorney until 1934 when Norman Banfield joined him. Norman, like Bert, was self taught.

Robert Boochever, retired justice of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, moved to Juneau in 1946 as a young attorney, and became a partner in Faulkner’s law firm in 1947. “Faulkner was very honorable, very studious. When I first went into the firm, I would try to be the first in the office and the last to leave, but I couldn’t do it. He was always there earlier and stayed later.”

In addition to representing mining companies Faulkner also represented fishing and utility companies, including Alaska, Electric Light and Power. With the advent of statehood Faulkner focused on protecting his clients to make sure that there mining claims, tidelands, rights of way etc. were protected.

In 1959 Faulkner retired to Oakland California where he continued to practice law on a part time basis.

At his death on June 28, 1972, he was still practicing law; he died suddenly of a heart attack, in court in San Francisco while arguing a case. He was member of the bar for 59 years in continuous practice in Alaska, the State and Federal Courts in California, and the Supreme Court of the United States.

His Law firm that he founded 93 years ago still exists today in Juneau as Faulkner Banfield.

By David G. Stone, 2007


Supplement to the Juneau Empire 1999 Attorney and Lawman

Juneau Empire June 30, 1972

1972 letter to the Alaska State bar Association from H.L. Faulkner

April 21, 1982 oral interview with Norman Banfield by Pamela Cravez

September 1972 issue of the Alaska magazine

Alaska Juneau Mining Company annual reports 1940-1956

Telephone conversation with retired Justice Robert Boochever September 2006

Telephone conversation with retired Justice Tom Stewart, September, 2006

R.N. DeArmond and Evangeline Atwood Who’s Who in Alaska Politics

Alaska Gastineau Mining Company (AJT Mining Properties Inc. archives) letter to B. L. Thane August 13, 1913

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