George Howard Jr., 82; federal judge presided over Whitewater cases

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

George Howard Jr., 82, the first black federal judge in Arkansas, who was the presiding judge for several cases related to the Whitewater investigation of the 1990s, died Saturday at a hospital in Pine Bluff, Ark., the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The family did not give the cause of death.

Before he was named U.S. District Court judge in 1980, Howard was appointed to the Arkansas Supreme Court and earlier, the Court of Appeals.

He also served on the state Claims Commission for 11 years. He was the first black man to hold each of the positions in Arkansas.

The Whitewater cases involved a failed land deal in Arkansas and implicated former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.

In separate trials, Tucker and Susan and James McDougal were convicted of fraud and conspiracy charges.


Howard called President Clinton, a partner of the McDougals in the Whitewater deal, to testify as a defense witness in their case.

Clinton testified on videotape and was not charged with any crime.

Howard was born in Pine Bluff on May 13, 1924. He served in the Navy during World War II and later graduated from Lincoln University in Missouri and the University of Arkansas law school.