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William P. Copple

University of California Berkeley Law,
class of 1951

State Bar of Arizona
member since 1952

Featured Case:
Stone v. Arizona Highway Commission
93 Ariz. 384 (1963) 381 P.2d 107

William P. Copple was born in Holtville, California, in 1916. He attended junior college for two years in Long Beach, California, followed by a year at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1936 he married and spent the next ten years working, first for the federal government at Boulder Dam and the Panama Canal, then in 1942 at a Kaiser shipyard in Richmond, California. He then spent two years working for his father’s construction firm, Copple Construction Co., in Yuma, Arizona. In 1948, at age 32, Copple returned to the university in Berkeley. In 1951 he graduated from the University of California's Boalt Hall of Law. Since Arizona had a one-year residency requirement before admission to the Bar, Copple worked another year in construction in Yuma.

Copple was admitted to the Arizona Bar in 1952, and became a partner in the Yuma firm of Westover, Mansfield, Westover, and Copple. In addition to his law practice during these years, he was active in civic affairs such as local and state Democratic Party politics, including one year as County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. In 1954 Copple was appointed by Governor Ernest McFarland to a four-year term on the Arizona Highway Commission, for which he served as Chairman in 1958. Copple was also a member of the Committee of Fourteen, the committee which advised the governors of the seven lower basin states on salinity problems in the Lower Colorado River Valley.

In 1965 Copple was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, and in 1966 he became Arizona’s fourth judge on the U.S. District Court.

Oral History Audio

Interviewed by John Westover in 1989.

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