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the United States Tax Court) to fill the unexpired term of the Honorable John B. Milliken, who resigned. He was reappointed in 1932 and again in 1944 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt for full twelve-year terms. Judge Black was elected Chairman (now Chief Judge) by the Members of the Board of Tax Appeals on November 11, 1933, and he served in that capacity until November 11, 1937. A portrait of Judge Black, commissioned to be painted in recognition of his outstanding services to the Tax Court, hangs in the foyer to the South Courtroom.
In 1949 President Harry S. Truman issued a special Executive Order exempting Judge Black, 70, from compulsory retirement for an indefinite period not extending beyond the duration of his then present term of office. Judge Black retired formally from the Tax Court on November 30, 1953, and was recalled December 1, 1953, to perform further judicial duties at the Court under the provisions of section 7447 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. He continued to serve on recall until March 31, 1966. He served continuously with the Court for 37 years.
In tribute to Judge Black on his 90th birthday, the Court passed the following resolution:
RESOLUTION WHEREAS, the Honorable Eugene Black, a retired Judge of the Tax Court of the United States, will celebrate his 90th birthday on July 2, 1969; and
WHEREAS, Eugene Black faithfully served his Government with distinction as a Representative in the United States Congress, as a Member and Chairman of the United States Board of Tax Appeals and as a Judge of this Court for a total period exceeding a half a century, and
WHEREAS, the Judges of the Court wish to accord special recognition to Judge Black on this occasion for his distinguished service and worthy contributions to the Court: As a notable jurist devoted to duty and service in the highest judicial tradition-As an ardent participant in the development and formulation of the Court's policies and procedures-As a trier of cases with keen perception and a sense of fairness which is reflected in all of his opinions-As a colleague and personal friend who has always given generously of his time and talents to assist fellow judges—As a man of abundant energy whose kindliness, warmth, charm and good humor have endeared him to all who know him;
Now. THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:
That, the Judges of the Tax Court of the United States, with great respect, admiration, and deep affection, extend to Judge Black their congratulations and best wishes on the 90th anniversary of his birth and express their gratitude for his solicitous and invaluable assistance of many years in behalf of the Court; and it is hereby directed that this Resolution be personally delivered to Judge Black that he may know these sentiments. Done this 27th day of June, 1969.
W. M. Drennen
Chief Judge (Seal) Attest:
William F. Huffman
Judge Black’s roster of more than 450 opinions included such well known corporate petitioners as Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey, Pacific Mills, and Crowell-Collier Publishing Co. He also heard the cases of celebrities, such as "hotel king” Conrad N. Hilton, 13 T.C. 623, which involved disposition of a note to acquire funds in purchasing the Stevens Hotel in Chicago, and Estate of Nathalie Koussevitsky, 5 T. C. 650, in which it was determined that all property "originally belonged” to Serge Koussevitsky, long-time conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and that no part was includable in his wife's gross estate.
In Olivia de Havilland Goodrich, 20 T.C. 323, Judge Black wrote with compassion regarding the petitioner whose acting in "To Each His Own” won for her an Academy Award:
The evidence shows that petitioner, upon realizing her dream of becoming a well-known artist in her profession, had acquired little or no knowledge of business affairs and seemingly had no desire to learn of them, preferring to leave such matters to others in whom she had confidence. For this purpose she turned to Fontaine, her stepfather, who, notwithstanding personal trouble between them which resulted in her leaving home at 16 years of age, was respected by petitioner as a man of integrity and good business judgment. For services which she considered valuable and essential to one in her position, she agreed to pay him in the first years of his services 25 per cent and in later years, including the two taxable years before us, 15 per cent of her earnings in any particular year. Fontaine's compensation was entirely contingent. Neither party knew at the time the contract was made how much Fontaine would receive in the years 1945 and 1946. They could not know, and although it is perhaps true that the payments which were actually made to Fontaine under the contract exceeded the expectations of both parties when the contract was made, nevertheless it seems to us that the obligation of petitioner to pay was a legal obligation and one which she was both morally and legally expected to perform. Generally speaking, if contingent compensation is paid pursuant to a free bargain between the employer and the individual made before the services are rendered, not influenced by any consideration on the part of the employer other than that of securing on fair and advantageous terms the services of the individual, it should be allowed as a deduction even though in the actual working out of the contract it may prove to be greater than the amount which would ordinarily be paid. *** On this issue we sustain the petitioner.
Judge Black's opinion in Waddell F. Smith, 10 T.C. 701, 705 (1948), provides another insight into his experiences and human qualities. In that case, which involved a claimed loss of an English setter dog, Judge Black said:
The writer of this opinion, when he was a much younger man than he is now, lived in a section of Texas where in those days cattle and horses grazed on the open range. Frequently one would turn up missing and the owner would advertise the loss with posters reading “Lost or Stolen,” followed by the description of the animal and the offer of a suitable reward for its return. Sometimes the animal would be found and returned and there was great rejoicing reminiscent of the shepherd described in St. Luke's Gospel, who, when he had found his lost sheep, “*** calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” At other times the animal was never found, but it could scarcely be maintained that the failure to find the animal would be any satisfactory proof that it had been stolen. Too many other things could happen. So we think we must hold on the facts of the instant case.
Eminent jurist, Judge Black was respected not only by his colleagues but by all who knew him. He had the reputation of being a conservative Judge who was very considerate and patient on the bench. As Chairman of the Board of Tax Appeals (now Chief Judge of the United States Tax Court), he was always ready to render assistance when needed, especially to recently appointed Judges; yet he himself was most appreciative of the smallest favor. His personal character attracted a wealth of friends.
Although engaged in a demanding profession in which he dealt with complex issues, Judge Black was nevertheless a man of great simplicity. He was devoted to his family and church. In spite of lengthy absences necessitated by his duties first as a United States Representative in the Congress and then as a Judge of the Tax Court, Judge Black maintained close family ties. On March
15, 1975, he and his beloved Mamie celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary. In addition to celebrating various family occasions throughout the year, each summer Judge and Mrs. Black invited their children and their families to join them on a vacation. For relaxation Judge Black enjoyed nothing more than fishing with his family or friends.
A Mason and an active member of the Methodist Church, Judge Black taught Bible classes in both Blossom and Clarksville. After coming to Washington, he taught the A. B. Pugh Bible Class at Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church from 1928 to 1932. His students remember him as a thorough teacher and an outstanding storyteller. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Stewards and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the church. Judge Black's deep religious conviction was illustrated when, at about the age of 66, he walked to church one Sunday morning through a blinding snowstorm “to keep an appointment with the Lord.” He once said, “If religion is to mean anything, it must mean trying to make a better world for all.”
This In Memoriam is written in recognition of the outstanding services performed by Judge Black. The Court has benefited from his strength and wisdom and is grateful for the dedication he inspired as a Judge. His devotion to the Court, his pride in his country, and his intellectual and moral integrity will always be remembered by those who knew him. We mourn his loss.
JUDGE EUGENE BLACK
A Personal Tribute By
JUDGE BOLON B. TURNER Having read the above In Memoriam to Judge Black, it would, to me, be presumptious to think that it could be improved. Most certainly, I wouldn't presume to try.
There was, however, one occurrence in my associations with Gene Black which I would like to share with those who knew and admired him as I did and do.
My association with him began when I took the Oath of Office as a Member of the Board of Tax Appeals on June 18, 1934. He was Chairman of the Board which would now mean Chief Judge of the Court.
Not too long thereafter—in August following, to be exact, I had a brief telephone conference with him which, although I didn't realize it at the time, gave me in six words a true and meaningful picture of the person Gene Black really was.
There were no regular sessions of the Court in the three summer months to which I might be assigned. Usually, however, there were some several single cases for which a special session was in order. I was assigned to sit in the trial of one such case in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which, it was anticipated, would run a week to 10 days.
It was a fraud case, and the respondent had the burden of proving fraud.
The trial began and had proceeded without any really disconcerting incidents, until a few minutes before the noon recess on Friday morning. The respondent's attorney had asked of his key witness a question, the answer to which—as was later shown—he knew would be conclusive in carrying his burden of proof. He was noticeably taken aback when the witness responded, “I respectfully decline to answer, claiming my privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.” The respondent's counsel vigorously and quite "audibly” demanded that I order the witness to answer the question.
I knew what the Fifth Amendment was from my study of American history and law, but to say the least I had never had any practical experience in trying to interpret and apply it in an existing situation. It was already at the Noon hour, and I rather "promptly" announced a recess until 2 o'clock, stating that I would rule when we reconvened in the afternoon.
Knowing that the Board of Tax Appeals had no power to enforce its orders, I became concerned as to what I could and would be supposed to do if I ruled that the claim under the Fifth Amendment was not well founded, and the witness still refused to
Passing over my later ruling on the question as to whether the claim was or was not well taken, I went back to my hotel room during the Noon hour, called Judge Black, and posed the question to him. After some moments of silence, I heard these words: "Well, so far as I know we have never had such a situation arise during the Board's existence, and the best I can say to you is to go on back and do the best you know how.”